Erika Crawford Gordon of Rome is a highly skilled RN who works at Northside Hospital in the High Risk Perinatal Unit — and a few days a week she earns a second income working as a baby nurse on film and TV sets.
When she was asked on the set of “Containment” to swaddle the baby for an upcoming scene, she did it just as she would in the hospital. Extra tight, like a burrito.
“But that’s not how they wanted the baby swaddled on camera,” says Erika with a laugh. “I swaddled the baby the way I was trained to, very tightly, because it’s all about conserving body heat. I had to learn to swaddle for a camera with the baby’s arms hanging out and looking cute.”
Erika has learned the ins and outs of being on-set since her start in 2012 on “Single Mom’s Club” where she shadowed lead medic Paul Lowe, also a Rome resident. “He took me under his wing and explained set etiquette, like when to be quiet, the need to keep my cell phone on silent and to never chew gum,” says Erika. “A lot of things are props, like that trash can really isn’t for trash. He taught me where I should stand so I’m not in the scene and to be mindful of my space.”
Now Erika tries to work her 12-hour shifts at the hospital on the weekends so she can keep most of the week open for film and TV opportunities. The extra income helps her pay for tuition for her daughter, a sophomore at UGA. She’s also in the process of building a townhouse, so the extra money is welcome.
She’s officially known as a “baby nurse,” caring for babies under six months that are required to have an attending RN. The baby is only allowed on camera for 20 minutes at a time and on the set for two hours per day. Erika makes sure the baby is safe, and if it’s fussy, she’ll step in to let the mother nurse. If there are twins involved she may help change diapers or soothe a crying baby.
One of her most interesting experiences was during a scene of a birth on “Containment.” Erika had to watch the baby get special effects applied to ensure the baby could tolerate the makeup.
“I’m used to the real thing. It was fun to see how Hollywood portrayed giving birth. They used cream cheese and jelly on the baby, who didn’t seem to mind at all.”
Erika is happy to work as often as she can for the film industry. She’s worked on the sets of “If Loving You is Wrong,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Star,” “Greenleaf,” “Thank You For Your Service” and several others.
“I work on films because it’s fun, exciting and a wonderful way to earn a second income,” says Erika. “This is what I do on my off days because I really enjoy it.”