Retired middle Georgia teacher finds new adventure — and extra retirement income — in film

Theresa Daniel 1Growing up in Macon, GA, Theresa Daniel didn’t have the opportunity to pursue her dream of acting. Now, the retired Monroe County school teacher is finally making that dream a reality working in the Georgia film industry.

“I feel like I’m on a new adventure in life and I’m loving it,” says Theresa. “And with the money I’ve made, we were able to build a new deck and go on vacation. My retirement income helps pay for our basic needs, the film industry money is for the fun stuff and the extras.”

Theresa works mostly as a background actor (also known as an extra) and sometimes works as a stand-in, the person who holds the spot for a principal actor while lighting and other issues are worked out.

She retired from teaching in 2016 and has worked on nearly 75 TV shows, commercials and movies. She’s traveled around the state working on productions like “First Man,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Brockmire,” “Stranger Things,” “I, Tonya,” “Sharp Objects,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Pitch Perfect 3,” “The Resident,” and “Den of Thieves.”

Theresa fell into the film industry in 2013 when her husband, an assistant superintendent, allowed an indie film to use the school’s auditorium. The teachers volunteered to be extras. It was a “bucket list” item for Theresa and she was happy to participate. It ended up being a family affair, with both her husband and daughter performing as background actors as well.

Theresa Daniel and daughter Katie

Theresa and her daughter, Katie

After that experience, Theresa wanted to find more opportunities for acting. She found her next gig on the Harrison Ford movie, “42,” filmed in Macon. She and her daughter volunteered and spent three days on set.

“The movie was set in the 1940s and we thoroughly enjoyed getting our hair and makeup done,” says Theresa. “I got to say hello to Harrison Ford and he was very nice. I was just thrilled. I was hooked after that!”

Theresa says she tries to work one to two days a week. She says she’s grateful that the film and television industry came to Georgia and gave her this opportunity.

“I feel like the film industry is feeding Georgia,” says Theresa. “Both economically and artistically.”

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