People from around the world continue to provide financial support for “The Chosen,” and thousands have served as volunteer extras on set.
One mother from Anniston decided to make it a family adventure during last summer’s school break.
Rachel Nichols, along with her husband Byron and their two daughters, Isabelle (12) and Lillian (10), went to Dallas in June to be extras for an episode of the series.
“We had recently moved to Anniston from Gainesville, Florida,” Rachel recalled. “And [the COVID-19 pandemic] was keeping us from being with others. School would be out for the summer for the girls, [and we] heard about this crowd-funded TV show where people contribute — a pay-it-forward adventure. And I thought, ‘Let’s do something different this summer!’”
Learning that 10,000 volunteer extras would be needed, they contacted the production company and were accepted.
The family, members of Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston, was given six months to make costumes, choosing to be either Greek, Roman or Jewish. Rachel searched in thrift shops for garments made from linen, which could be cut up and made into costumes, since the cotton plant was not native to the series setting and accuracy was important to producers.
Filming took place near Midlothian, Texas, which has terrain similar to the region of Jordan.
An international cast
“Seated on a sloping hillside, we were able to sit near the front of the crowd so we were able to interact with the actors,” Rachel recalled. “We were near enough to be given fish and bread when it was passed out. As a souvenir, the producers gave us candy fish as a keepsake of the experience.”
It was hot, which is not unusual for a Texas summer, and the area was barren with no trees for shade, and a hot, dry wind seemed to never stop blowing, she remembered. Some of the extras who were not used to the heat fainted, so an ambulance was on call.
Rachel said she and Byron were overwhelmed not only by the large number of extras, but by the thousands of Christians in one place.
“People represented many countries who had heard about pay-it-forward and wanted to come to America to be part of the cast,” she noted. “At least 20 different languages were heard.”
Rachel recalled people from Washington and Utah talking about how being part of “The Chosen” had affected their lives.
“Just being there surrounded by 5,000 people helped to visualize that large number,” she related. “The actors said it helped them become better actors as they were performing in front of a live audience.
“It was exciting to see Jonathan Roumie, the man who played Jesus, especially when he was preaching. As we boarded the buses, Dallas Jenkins, the producer [and director], went to every bus and shook everyone’s hand.
“It was an adventure the girls will never forget,” Rachel said.
“‘The Chosen’ shows how the Bible story is relatable to the gospel, and how the disciples interacted with Jesus,” she noted. “You look at the story and see yourself. You see through your own eyes how the disciples related to Jesus.”
The series is available for no cost on “The Chosen” app or at Angel.com.