Small town to big screen: Nikiski woman joins cast of Barrymore film

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Although Rhoda Dailey does not like having her picture taken, being on camera is a different story.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Nikiski resident Rhoda Dailey acted a part in the "Everybody Loves Whales" movie now filming in Alaska.

The 57-year-old Nikiski resident had no problem being filmed as an extra in the movie "Everybody Loves Whales" in Anchorage last month.

"I always wanted to be a movie star when I was young," Dailey said.

She got her chance when the film production company was seeking extras and she submitted her photo online "and they picked me," she said.

The film is based on the events surrounding three California gray whales that were trapped by ice in Barrow during their winter migration in 1988 and a romance that ensues between a Greenpeace International activist, played by Drew Barrymore, and small-town news reporter covering the events, The Office's John Krasinski.

The movie is being filmed in Anchorage with some scenes in Barrow in part because of the State of Alaska's film production incentive program, which offers up to 44 percent in transferable tax credits on qualified production expenditures in Alaska.

Dailey's part in the film is playing one of the greeters at a meeting "talking about Greenpeace," she said.

"They didn't want the Natives to whale hunt," she said.

During Daily's scenes she shakes hands and hugs the meeting's attendants who were supposed to be her relatives. And, funny enough, some of the other extras actually were.

"I saw relatives I haven't seen for years," said Daily, an Inupiat from Point Lay on the other side of Barrow and who grew up in Kotzebue.

During filming extras weren't supposed to talk so Daily said she acted using her hands and mouthing the words.

And not only will Dailey be immortalized in the movie but her traditional Native clothing will be too.

She was able to wear her own kuspuk and mukluks in the scene. They had a costume for her but she chose to wear her own, she said.

"The only thing they provided me was glasses because you had to wear glasses from 1988," Dailey said. And they were big she said, while holding her fingers up to her face from her eyebrow to the middle of her cheek to show the size of the frames.

But, the ones the film company gave her were not the right prescription.

"I couldn't see anything," said, Daily, bespectacled in real life.

She filmed for two long days in Anchorage at the West High Auditorium -- her first one was 13 hours.

During the shoot the extras were not supposed to talk to the big-name actors like Barrymore, Krasinski and Ted Danson, who also stars.

But Dailey said she said "Hi" to Hollywood darling Barrymore anyway.

And Barrymore told Dailey that she liked her mukluks.

"You have gorgeous mukluks," she said, quoting Barrymore.

"She's really pretty. She's tiny," Dailey added. "She's about as short as I am. But she looks tall in the movies."

The extras were also asked to keep their lips sealed about the movie, as the film will not be released until 2012.

"It was fun. I had a good experience," she said. "I've never seen so many cameras in my life."

"I'm going to buy the movie," Dailey added.

But, it's hard to say who's more thrilled about Dailey's taste of fame, herself or her family, especially her young grandchildren, ages 14 and 3.

"They're all excited. My 14-year-old tells his classmates," she said about her grandchild.

And she might have the opportunity to be in the film again soon as an extra sewing an Eskimo skin boat.

"I'm still on call," she said.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at

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