Local sixth-grader lands spot as extra on 'Nashville'

Jessica Fischer • Apr 24, 2013 at 9:32 AM

When ABC’s hit musical drama "Nashville" airs Wednesday night, May 8, Tiffany Reeves will be glued to the television screen.

Sure, the 12-year-old Colonial Heights Middle School sixth-grader is anxious to catch the latest developments involving Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton,) a legendary country music superstar whose stardom is fading, and rising teen starlet Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). But she’s more interested in spotting another familiar face on screen that night: her own.

Earlier this month, Reeves traveled to the show’s set in Music City, where she was one of several extras filmed for the May 8 episode. It may not be a starring role, but Reeves said she’ll be thrilled for even a split-second of screen time, her first paid acting gig.

"It might be a tenth of a second," Reeves said, giggling. "We’re going to have the remote and pass it around so if anybody blinks, they can pause it and play it back."

Although Reeves isn’t allowed to give away any specifics about the episode she filmed, she said she did get to meet actor Eric Close, who plays Rayna’s husband, Teddy Conrad. After starring for almost a decade on CBS’ "Without a Trace" and "Now and Again," Close was also lead on the network’s show "Chaos."

"It was an amazing feeling, because I’ve auditioned for [the show] several times," she said. "We sent in my portfolio pictures and resume several times for different parts and I finally got it."

"When they called and said can she come down, she had to have a ‘father figure’ go with her," said Reeves’ mom, Tina Radtke. "Her dad was working in Columbia, S.C., and was out of town, so at first we said, oh, we can’t do it. The casting director said, we really want Tiffany as our family friend and somebody who could pose as her father to come down and do the scene with her, so I called one of my lifelong friends and he said, yes, I’ll do it.

"They were going to film on a Wednesday and he was off on Wednesday so it worked out perfect, then they changed the film date to Thursday so he had to rework his entire schedule and switch everything around so that he could go and be with her. We were really, really lucky to have a family friend like that."

Reeves said she and the other extras spent about six hours on April 4 getting ready for and filming their scene. She was responsible for her own wardrobe — the girls were told to wear a simple dress — but she did get a turn in the hair and makeup chairs.

"We stayed down in a basement, where they had snacks. All the extras were downstairs. They did our hair, our makeup, then we went upstairs and filmed," she said.

Reeves was first bitten by the acting bug when she played an angel in Northeast State Theatre’s production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

Of course, being on stage is a family affair for Reeves and her younger sister, Ashley. Their mother, Tina, holds a master’s of education degree from Milligan College and is licensed to teach Fine Arts: Theatre K-12. She also worked extensively with local community theatre groups before becoming the arts education director for KingsportARTS.

"I’ve been doing theatre for forever, and they’ve kind of grown up in the theatre," Radtke said. "One of the things I think that’s helped is that she’s seen both sides of it. She’s seen me as a director say it’s not that you’re not talented, but I’m not looking for a redhead, I’m looking for someone with darker hair. They’ve both seen that side of it and experienced the auditioning process of it, so they know it’s not personal, it’s just what they’re looking for at the time, and I think that’s helped her a lot, just being involved in theatre."

Reeves said the auditioning process has taught her the value of hard work and perseverance — lessons she knows will come in handy no matter what career path she ultimately chooses — and that she’s learned not to let rejection get her down.

"I just let it roll off my back and know that I’ll audition for another part and get it," she said.

Reeves is also learning first-hand about the "business" side of show business.

"She filled out all her paperwork to get paid for ‘Nashville.’ She had to talk to the IRS to get her business going, she has her business license, she has a business checking and savings account that she set up and did all by herself at 12 years old," Radtke said. "It’s a huge learning opportunity because it’s something that she’s going to need to know later in life anyway. She has to manage her account, she has to keep up with all her business expenses, all her receipts, everything."

All that hard work seems to be paying off.

Reeves has landed spots in the trailers for several independent films, including "Ties," "Fix It In Post" and "Bait." She played a protester in the independent feature film "Elizabeth," about human cloning.

"We were all in the ‘Elizabeth’ film in Nashville," Radtke said. "We had to go and set up a tent, and they actually came down and got me and her dad in it. Ashley got to be one of the protesters with [Tiffany] outside of the gate, so it was a lot of fun. That’s the good thing about doing the independent films. They don’t always have the money to pay, because all their funds go to funding the film itself, but you get to meet a lot of people. We met a guy that was in the ‘Hannah Montana’ films."

Reeves got her first close-up shot as an extra in "Crash," a short film for teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving, set for release later this month. The project was produced by Backwards Man Productions and filmed in Benson, N.C., with the cooperation of the town’s fire and EMS departments, and will be shown to high schoolers throughout the state.

"I played a girl at the funeral who was a really good friend of [the girl who died in the car crash]. They got a close-up of me crying as her spirit was walking down the aisle seeing her family and friends at her funeral," Reeves said. "It was fun. I met a lot of new people. Getting a close-up I was really nervous about because I’d never gotten a close-up before. I got the close-up because I drove the farthest to get there."

Reeves seeks out audition opportunities through the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Movie Commission and Knoxville’s Talent Trek Agency, on the talentpages.com website and on the Internet Movie Database, or IMDB. She also has a "mother" agent here in Kingsport — Mandy Ford with Journey Models and Talent — to represent her.

Reeves said she doesn’t have any other acting jobs lined up at the moment, but she’s busy preparing for the International Models and Talent Association’s expo in New York City this summer. She also models in local and regional fashion shows when she isn’t busy playing basketball, running rack, taking guitar and dance lessons, and just being a kid.

"She’s got lots to keep her busy in between working," Radtke said, laughing.

For more information about Reeves, visit her IMDB site or find her on Facebook.

"Nashville" airs at 10 p.m., Wednesdays on ABC.

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