Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (2023)

An interview with a zombie actor to prepare you for your 'Fear the Walking Dead' audition in Savannah, GA June 25 and 26.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A spin-off to 'The Walking Dead' show is bringing its production to Savannah for the next season.

Open casting calls for the 'Fear the Walking Dead' are being held June 25 and June 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To help you prepare for your zombie audition,First Coast News spoke with Shana Adkins, a zombie actor from Spokane, WA, who appeared in "The Walking Dead."

RELATED: Calling all zombies! Casting calls open in Savannah for 'Fear the Walking Dead'

Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (1)Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (2)

Credit: Shana Adkins

Zombie actor.

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How did you become a zombie actor? Take it from the top.

Shana Adkins:Z-Nation came to the Spokane area and advertised casting calls for Zombie extra's. I was in Nursing School at the time and liked having the odd job here and there between classes and clinicals. And what could be more odd than being a zombie?!

How did you prepare? What were auditions like?

To help us prep for auditions, we were emailed various links, which were mostly movie and "Walking Dead" clips on YouTube. I watched them and practiced alone in my living room late at night. A few days before auditions, I actually hurt my leg and was limping as a result, which only helped my "zombie".

The auditions were awkward. Mostly because we were in normal clothes, with no zombie makeup, in a church, in front of a ton of people waiting to audition.

We were given numbers to pin to our shirts and split into groups of five. The groups took turns going to the stage to do our best "zombie'", which included doing both a "slow zombie" around the stage, then they would ring a bell which we were told was the trigger for us to turn into a hungry, "fast zombie" and we would run around the stage, attacking imaginary victims.

Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (3)Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (4)

Credit: Shana Adkins

Zombie happy time group shot.

What zombie insight would you give to aspiring zombies?

They reminded us that all zombies were people once, and suggested we think of a backstory and who we were before we became "undead".

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In this series, there are different "stages" of being undead. Those who had just turned are kind of between being human and zombie, and were what Z Nation referred to as "fast zombies", or fresh zombies; they could move more quickly and in some ways were even more determined to kill. They have more going on in the senses department and were very triggered by noises.

On the other hand, slow zombies had been undead for longer. They have slowed down so much that they are easily avoided on a one-on-one encounter. These zombies were really only dangerous in groups.

What motivates a zombie?

It was explained to us that zombies had one motivation - to survive as a species, and to do that they need to eat human flesh. Also, if zombies were left alone in a room with no stimulants, they would eventually just stand still.

I got to do some of these scenes. One where I was in a room with a bunch of other zombies and we just kind of bumped around into each other, back and forth, until there was some kind of noise stimulation, and we got to come to "life" - zombie life.

Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (5)Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (6)

Credit: Shana Adkins

Water zombies, in wetsuits.

How was being a zombie and being in the water?

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The first availability check I was cast for was as a "floating zombie." The scene was to be shot in shallow water, and we would be wearing full length wetsuits, floating on our backs and wading through water. They noted that we needed to be comfortable being in water for long periods of time and that what makes a good extra is an ability to listen, believe and do whatever the director has asked. We were to become movable, thinking props.

Our wardrobes consisted of a thick, full length wetsuit and jeans and a turtle-neck over the tops of the wetsuit, and some ratty tennis shoes.

Can you talk about the Hollywood fake blood? Please tell me it tasted like cherry.

It's weird. I think it was sweet. And thick. I just remember getting in an assembly line and having it squirted in mouths right before we'd shoot. Sticky "blood" was put in my hair and greenish, brownish makeup applied to my face. Our floating zombie group was sitting in our wetsuits with clothes over the top, baking, melting, sweating in the sun for over eight hours.

Luckily, we were so dehydrated that we didn't have to pee much, a difficult task given struggling with a sticky, sweaty wetsuit in a porta-potty. When we finally started shooting our scene, the sun was setting, the lake was freezing, and we were finally thankful for the wetsuits. We did shot after shot of us zombies floating in the water on our backs, and then hearing a noise and suddenly waking and charging out of the water onto the shore, after the leading actors. Running in a full wetsuit isn't easy, and neither is running in water....it was an exhausting shoot, but super fun experience.

Another episode I was in was at Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital in some of their abandoned buildings. Super creepy. One of the areas we were shooting in was turned into a make-shift morgue for the episode. I got to be both a fast and slow zombie that day, as well as one of the few chosen to wear facial prosthetics.

Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (7)Zombie acting insight from a 'Walking Dead' zombie actor (8)

Credit: Shana Adkins

Floating zombies.

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Did you have a big zombie moments onscreen?

Each day a select few zombies were chosen to be the closest to the cameras, and for that reason got extra attention by the makeup artists, which typically included having facial prosthetics applied. Which once again meant I was having touch up after touch up as they kept separating from my face.

We hung around in a break type room for a couple of hours, eating snacks and waiting our turn. When it was finally our turn, we were first directed to be fast zombies, charging down a narrow hallway after our victims. What we were actually charging towards was the camera, being wheeled backwards down the hallway. This is the part where I got to be in front and really shine with my prosthetics. I had to do my best zombie ever. We did this over and over again until the director was satisfied, then moved on to the morgue, where we moaned and groaned and bumped around into each other for over an hour, while trying not to bump into the camera and crew.

When I finally got to see both of the episodes I was in, I swear it was just a matter of seconds for each scene after all those hours of shooting. I would have been a zombie for free, but we were paid a whopping $9.32 an hour. I was also recruited for a human, speaking role in one episode as "Kate, a former PTA mom turned Trailer Park Prostitute". I did an audition tape and didn't get that part, which was ok by me.

Overall, I loved the experience. Weird gigs were my thing until I finally finished nursing school. And honestly, the nursing job I have now is pretty weird as well.

Info on "Fear the Walking Dead" casting call:

Saturday, June 25 at the Garden City Empowerment Center, 4704 Augusta Rd, Garden City, GA 31408.

Sunday, June 26 at the Halo Model and Talent Agency, 1319 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day

  • Calling all zombies! Casting calls open in Savannah for 'Fear the Walking Dead'
  • Is 'The Walking Dead' returning to southeast Georgia?


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