NIH’er Flood Loves His ‘Extra’ Work
Some of us fantasize about becoming a rock star or pro athlete but never try to turn our hobby into that dream job. NIH’s Daryl Flood aspires to be an actor; in the meantime, he’s dabbling in the world of film and television as an extra.
Flood currently can be spotted on the Netflix TV series House of Cards and appeared in the recent HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. He credits his experience working at NIH as enhancing his skill set and knowledge base toward a future acting career.
“I like seeing first-hand what NIH does on a big scale,” said Flood, who is a record and information management specialist for the Executive Secretariat in OD. “I wouldn’t possibly have known about Henrietta Lacks if I had not managed records for [NIH director] Dr. [Francis] Collins.”
In the film, Flood appears in a scene at the pier where Deborah Lacks, played by Oprah Winfrey, meets her mother’s biographer Rebecca Skloot, played by Rose Byrne. The scene was filmed outside the Myers Museum in Baltimore over 2 days.
“Prior to my even knowing about the movie, I would tell people about Henrietta Lacks, that she was a poor African-American female and all the contributions to the medical and scientific world because of her,” said Flood. “I would say, ‘As an African-American, you should know something about her and her legacy.’”
At NIH, Flood regularly handles records related to Lacks, whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge for study more than 60 years ago and still live, and reproduce, to this day. These “HeLa cells” have contributed to major medical advances against a backdrop of bioethical and legal issues. The immortal cell line “is kind of like a miracle,” said Flood, who hopes the movie brings more attention to her story.
“I think all of the bases were covered in the movie with the family issues and, in layman’s terms, the science,” said Flood. He remembers seeing several Lacks family members come in to talk with Collins in recent years and said he’s glad to learn that NIH was working with her family, trying to right a wrong.
Born and raised in the Washington area, Flood started out doing some modeling before looking for reputable casting agencies. He has enjoyed observing different aspects of film production while on the sets of several movies and smaller indie films. It’s not all glamorous though. He recounted spending 2 days in discomfort, wearing a tight midshipman’s uniform, in the film Annapolis.
Being an extra takes a lot of patience. Extras spend several days repeating their scene many times for what may only be a few seconds of film time, if it even makes the cut. “You really have to want to do it,” said Flood. “That’s what I realized even in doing a couple of projects…Any opportunity I get into, I never complain.”
What’s stopping him from moving to Los Angeles or New York to pursue an acting career? “I can’t move right now,” said Flood, who has six children, ranging in age from 3 to 17. “I’m the modern-day Mike Brady [of TV’s The Brady Bunch],” he quipped. “I’ve got to raise them. But once they’re all grown, I’m off!”
Until Flood can move, he’s content doing small projects and taking improv classes while hoping to get lead roles someday. “I’m preparing myself to be like Idris Elba,” he said with a laugh. “I’m going to the gym, preparing for the future and for bigger opportunities. I try to do what I can do here in the meanwhile just to stay in the scene and stay in the know.”
Flood finds that acting occasionally helps him get through life’s challenges. “Sometimes I have to put on a happy face and play the role,” he said.
One thing he’s learned, he said, is always to have faith. “There are many times I could’ve given up and lost faith, especially at times when I was between jobs. Whatever your goal is, just do it! Start it as a hobby…If this is something you would do for free and love to do, eventually it’s going to pay you…I’m a spiritual person and I don’t give up.”