I have this thing for Extras. You know the men and women who fill the background of a movie, the people who make the movie a lot more real. I don’t know why I like them so much. But, I actually watch for them in movies and get excited when an extra has a line or gets to do something that makes them stand out.
I think extras are incredible because they are the stuff of real life. I mean, let’s be honest most people don’t have love stories like those in the movies and not many crimes are solved in two hours and superheros don’t really exist, but the extras are the people who make the story real. We can all relate to an extra. We walk down streets unnoticed. We drink and have conversations with friends, we are waiters and busboys, we get in car accidents, cry, laugh and live all while another’s story is being told right next to us.
When watching a movie or TV show I sometimes want to hear the stories of the extras. I want to know where the woman is going in high heels across the busy New York street, or know the name of waiter who serves the coffee. Is she married? Does he have a family or is he putting himself through school? The only difference between an extra and a primary or supporting character is that the primary character’s story is being told.
Each life has a story and most people would love to feel like a primary at some point, or in the life of at least one other person. Everyone wants their story told, heard or seen. People want to be known, but often we treat the world as though every person we meet is an extra in our life’s story. We often treat people who fill the background of our lives as filler, instead of as lives and stories worth knowing and sharing in.
Think about a time when you felt like you played an extra when you really wanted to play a primary role. What do you remember from that experience or those experiences? How was it that you stepped into a primary role? Did someone ask you a question? Notice you? Did you decided to make yourself a primary so you started telling your story?
Take a moment this week to think about people in your life who are extras. Do you see the same people at coffee shops, the grocery store, work, the Greyhound, train or trolly? How might you draw a person from the background to the foreground? How might you be able to give an extra in your life a primary or supporting role? Think about it, then take the action steps to do so!