Stephanie (Jefferson) Abdullah ’88

Stephanie (Jefferson) Abdullah, Class of 1988
I was an extra in the movie The Principal! I was in the 10th grade if I remember correctly. It could have been 11th. I was very excited when they announced at Tech that the producers were looking for students to play extras in the movie. We all had to audition. I remember going somewhere in Oakland to do the audition. I actually was not selected. However, they didn’t seem to be paying that much attention, so rather than place myself with the group that had been turned away, I just lined up with the students who had been accepted. It was a lot of fun. We spent a number of days on the set. Many of the students were Tech students. And I think the filming was being done on the old Tech campus.

We got paid $40 in cash every day. It was awesome. They had tutors on the set. The idea was that when we weren’t filming, we were supposed to be doing our homework. But, we weren’t doing anything but socializing. It was like one big homeroom with no one in control. The production assistants would come to the door and say they need however many kids and if you were in earshot or standing there, you pretty much got selected to be part of the scene. We of course met all of the actors who were starring in the movie: Jim Belushi, Lou Gossett Jr., Jacob Vargas, a then unknown Esai Morales, and future The Five Heartbeats star Michael Wright, as well as others who appeared in other films, but I do not recall their names.

I had a lot of fun getting to know Esai Morales and I had the biggest crush on him. I did see myself in the movie. There is an auditorium scene and I think I am sitting next to Esai Morales and so if you do not blink, you will see me. And if you are looking really close, you’ll see me in two places at the same time in the same scene. They needed to fill the balcony and so they had us go and sit in the balcony. They somehow merged the shots so that the auditorium appeared to be full. I still have one of my excused absence slips from the filming. The reason for the absence is “Extra in The Principal. When the movie came out, they did a premier in Oakland at the Grand Lake Theatre and some of us Tech students got to attend. Then there was a dinner or something at the Hyatt Regency. Esai Morales was in town to support the premiere and several Tech students got to take pictures with him.