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Here's what it's *really* like to star on a Brat TV show

I was working on an English essay in my school library on December 17 (my birthday) when, all of a sudden, my phone rang to deliver the opportunity of a lifetime: I would be starring in a Brat TV series!

The new show, Stage Fright, follows the story of four present-day Crown Lake students who bond together to figure out who dropped a chandelier on the lead in the school production of The Phantom of the Opera. My character, Karina, is the theater critic and editor-in-chief of The Crown Lake Chronicle—and she may not be as innocent as she seems.

I was thrilled when I found out I was cast on the show, but admittedly it also presented a few challenges. How would I finish my senior year of high school if I was going to be gone for a month? Where would I stay while filming in Los Angeles? Would I be able to memorize all my lines *and* loads of calculus homework? Nevertheless, I decided to silence all my doubts in order to pursue my dream. I dove into the experience headfirst and I didn't look back.

My first day in Los Angeles, I attended the table read, where I met the director Dan De Lorenzo along with the other leading actors: Sophie Michelle, Pressley Hosbach, Tahani Anderson, Skyler Guthrie, Kimberly Girkin and Sawyer Sharbino. I'd known Sophie and Pressley beforehand and they'd been ignoring my text messages for a week. When I walked through the door and saw them, I knew exactly why—they wanted to surprise me! The cast instantly clicked as we ran through all eight episodes; we bounced off each other really well, and every scene felt authentic.

Upon entering Brat Studios to film for the first time, I was really nervous, but the cast and crew always managed to make me feel welcome and special. After I walked in, I was taken straight to wardrobe to get dressed in the Karina costume (which is the complete opposite of my personal style!): a Crown Lake uniform with Lois Lane-esque tortoiseshell glasses. From the monitor backstage, I watched my friends filming as I got my hair and makeup done. The unruly ponytail quickly became Karina's signature look. Kate, one of the A.D.s, always make sure I got my school blocks in (I was required to do three hours of homework per day) until she would grab me to get my microphone on and shoot a scene.

The first step in shooting a scene? Blocking and rehearsal. The first A.D., Alex, and Dan would walk me through where I would stand, and if I had a question about the intention behind a line, I would ask. The prop team would bring in props as well (Karina often had a tape recorder, backpack and reporter's notebook) and the hair/makeup team would come in for last minute touch-ups, otherwise known as "last looks". After running through lines and blocking 2-3 times, we would shoot the first take. Sometimes it took up to two hours to film a 2-3 page scene because we had to shoot it from so many angles!

One of the best parts of the experience was craft services. Every day, the cast and crew would go outside and sit at long picnic tables for lunch. The cast members had to eat in our comfy robes so our costumes wouldn't get stained. Every day had a unique theme: Mexican, Italian, BBQ and more! Lunch was also our time to chat, film TikToks and unwind for half an hour. One day, Skyler, Sophie and I decided to play a prank on the crafty team. We went into the staff office and told them that the food and drinks weren't good enough—they ran outside to the snack table to check, absolutely mortified! They were scanning the plates of cookies, pretzels and fruit, looking confused as to what was wrong, so we all started cracking up.

The last day on set, Dan gifted us all disposable cameras so that we could capture the most memorable moments of the day and develop the images later on. As they announced, "That's a wrap on Carrie!" and everyone started cheering, I burst into tears. I couldn't believe that the month had flown by so quickly. After wrapping, I stayed an extra two hours on set because I didn't want to say goodbye yet. In fact, we even had a karaoke party that night to celebrate the end of filming!

The following morning at 4 a.m., running on no sleep, I boarded a plane and headed back to New York. I can only describe the feeling as bittersweet. The weeks I spend filming Stage Fright had allowed my dreams to take flight. I was returning home not just with a new acting credit under my belt, but a forever family to cherish.

Catch Carrie Berk as Karina in Stage Fright, premiering March 26 on Brat TV.

by Carrie Berk | 3/19/2020