The Diamondback (US), September 12, 2000
U. Maryland sophomore cheered on Keanu in 'The Replacements'
by Crystal Williams
University of Maryland
U-WIRE) COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland sophomore business major Nekesha Hamilton got a real life education in show business this summer while cheerleading in the movie The Replacements.
The Replacements, starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, is a story of the fictional Washington Senators football team that hired replacement players to play for them when the regular players went on strike.
It was filmed in Baltimore last summer at PSINet stadium and the cheerleaders and extras were people who responded to advertisements on the radio and in newspapers.
Hamilton, who cheered at Arundel High in Gambrills, Md., heard about the casting call many times while listening to the radio at work. "I kept hearing it and thought there must be a reason why. Since I've been cheering forever I figured why not give it a try?"
Prospective cheerleaders had to submit a picture and a resume before they were even allowed to try out. Trying out with her older sister Tae, along with hundreds of other girls, Hamilton felt a little nervous.
"You walk in and it's intimidating. There were pro cheerleaders and these glamorized girls," she said.
Auditions consisted of showing gymnastic abilities and performing a cheering routine. Both Hamilton and her sister made it through the audition and made two call-backs.
Though Tae wasn't picked, they casted Hamilton as one of their originally sweet girl cheerleaders. When Hamilton met the cast she found that none of the glamour girls from auditions made it.
"None of the pretty girls got in...besides me," she said.
The first production step was costume fittings for the cheerleaders. The cheering costumes consisted of white go-go boots that Hamilton didn't like.
"No matter how long you wore those boots they never got comfortable. I was taking them off and covering up every chance I got," Hamilton said.
Once the cheerleaders learned the cheers to be used in the movie, Brooke Langton, who played the head cheerleader and Reeves' love interest, showed the cheerleaders around the football practice field at Glen Burnie High School in Glen Burnie, Md.
This is where Hamilton first met Reeves. After walking out of lunch with the cheerleaders, Hamilton recalled seeing a figure walking toward her.
"I saw this tall, dark guy in a baseball cap. I did a double take and he kind of scuffled since he thought I recognized him. My friend started to scream. Brooke looked at her and said she was crazy," she said.
Though the girls had the chance to work with the stars while shooting, that didn't stop them from "Keanu hunting" during non-shooting hours. Hamilton and her fellow cheerleaders went around Fells Point looking for Reeves' white Cadillac so they could hang out with the star.
Life in front of the camera calmed Hamilton's nerves and she found the work day to be fun. Call time for cheerleaders was 8 a.m. and after hair, make-up and costumes, the cheerleaders were ready to go.
The cheerleaders earned $50 to $115 a day for eight hours of work.
Spotting Hamilton in the movie is just a matter of seeing red. During the first two games Hamilton can be spotted in a red headband. Hamilton admits the hair accessory choice was her idea. She decided on it after encountering problems with the hairdresser on what to do with her hair.
"My character was a sweet girl so that was a sweet look."
Hamilton spent most of her time with Jon Favreau, best known as Mikey in Swingers.
"Jon was a cute guy and really sweet. He was just mad cool. We talked about what he would do if he had a girlfriend thing, but it wasn't like I was hitting on him. I remember seeing him with blood on his nose and got worried but found out it was just make-up."
Hamilton also didn't pass up the chance to meet Hackman. She meet him between takes during the final days of her shoot while he was getting a snack.
"He was so nice. We were talking like we were friends," she said.
Due to the start of school, Hamilton was unable to cheer for the final shoot and another cheerleader came in for her. She regrets not being able to complete the shooting and was also upset with her replacement.
"She looked nothing like me!" Hamilton said.
Even though she's back in school now, Hamilton is hoping for more chances to act.
"Let me know when they make the sequel and I'll do it," she said.