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Home Features Inside the Bubble Meet Tommie Lee Ervin ~ Extra actor supreme!

Meet Tommie Lee Ervin ~ Extra actor supreme!


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Tommie Lee Ervin and GH's Bradford AndersonWhen you watch your favorite soap opera, do you ever see the person in the background drinking coffee, or the person shopping at the mall, or the many hospital workers that walk by the stars? Well! They are called extras, or atmosphere, or background, and they are very much a part of the scene making it very realistic to every day life.

Over the last ten years you may have noticed one famous face that has been doing extra work on Days of our Lives and General Hospital. His name is Tommie Lee Ervin, and in tinsel town, where every one wants to make it big, Ervin is happy doing just what he is doing. He has played a variety of extra roles on both soaps, and finds each one fun to do and just enjoys being part of the action and the show.

"I love what I do. I get to act," Ervin said. "I'm not out looking for more. "I have a day job at a hotel, which I love, but yet...I love to do this work. I also have a great love for soaps. Again...I love what I do."

Ervin said it all began when he watched "Santa Barbara" as a kid with his grandmother. He saw the name Jill Farren-Phelps, then Executive producer (today the current EP of Y&R). He became obsessed with her name and said that someday he will work for her.

"I'd see Jill's name in the credits and for whatever reason became fascinated." Ervin said. "I just knew it would happen and when she was on General Hospital, I was there," he said with a laugh. His dream had come true!

Tommie Lee Ervin, soap's background extra

Ervin has met Phelps twice. He said the first time, she just said hello. "But now everyone from producers to cast and crew know how I feel about her and that I'm her biggest fan, so the last time was more personal. When she saw me, it was like...'Hi Tommie.' I was beside myself. She is just one awesome lady."

Ervin, originally from Texas, went to college at Sam Houston University, where he majored in theater pursuing his dream. The dream was to always be a background player (extra). Since he already watched the shows, it made it easier to be familiar with what is going on.

Ervin likes both Days of our Lives and General Hospital. He said they do a rotation schedule with him, so working at his hotel job works out fine.

"I like both shows. Even though they are both soaps, they are very different," Ervin explains. "Days shoots a different schedule. Far in advance. General Hospital about a month. The GH sets are bigger and the pace is slower. Days moves very fast. But I like the transition."

Ervin said that working as an extra can be fun, and he feels like he is treated like a star. He also meets the stars, chats with them, and is a part of everything. "I go through the same routine. I have hair, makeup, a dressing room (green room)," he said.  

Extras typically report to work in their own clothes, based on instruction from the extras casting department.  "If they don't like what I'm wearing, I go to the wardrobe department. I'm very much a part of the show." 

Tommie Lee Ervin, soap's background extra, with GH's Maura West

Ervin explained that he sits in the green room waiting to be called to set, and is announced on the PA system, just like any actor on the show.

Some of his memorable scenes were the carnival on General Hospital. "It was magnificent. They actually set a real carnival with rides and all on the backlot," Ervin said. "I felt like it was magical. A real amusement park." In a subsequent email, he shared that the days were long.  "We would start taping at 8 AM, and the schedule said estimated out time, 7 PM, but some of the days were longer."

General Hospital Carnival Scenes Call Sheet

Ervin also added that staying connected in the business is real important. He tries to meet whomever possible from actors to the powers that be, and he is loyal to his work and always on time and grateful for the opportunity that he is given.

As if a full time job at the hotel, and being called in for extra work wasn't enough, in his spare time Ervin moonlights as a DJ for various Hollywood parties and Red Carpet events, and just enjoys being part of a world surrounded by stars.

Tommie Lee Ervin with Days of our Lives Bryan Datillo

Soapdom asked Ervin if he had any message for the viewers. "Well... I Love what I do, and it's a great feeling to be part of the magical world of television. I am actually (living) in Salem and Port Charles," he said with a wink in his eye. He continued in this regard in his email: "I just want to share my soap days with you. I've been to the parties, the red carpet and all. I am not just a background actor. I love the medium."

As do we all!  

Tommie Lee Ervin -- Soap opera extra, hotel staffer and nighttime DJ on his way to a gig 

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