Joe Madrid (left) and Jeanine Madrid. (Submitted photos)

Jeanine Madrid was so captivated by the television series “The Chosen” she and her husband Joe decided to contribute to the “pay it forward” program that kept the series going.

That led to the couple from Pleasant Prairie being cast as extras in the show.

“I found out about the call for extras when I received an email from The Chosen staff,” Jeanine Madrid said. “The chance to be extras was afforded to those who participated in the pay-it-forward program.”

Last June, the couple joined an estimated 12,000 men, women and children from 36 countries and all 50 states who journeyed to Midlothian, Texas, to a set built on property owned by the Salvation Army, to serve as extras over several days as the faith-based series filmed scenes of Jesus feeding the 5,000. The series stars Jonathan Roumie, a devout Catholic, who also recently starred in the film “The Jesus Revolution.”

The chance to be a part of season three was a dream come true for Jeanine, who began watching it during the first season.

“The Chosen” is the first multi-season series about the life of Christ, and it’s known as “the free show tens of millions of people won’t stop talking about,” according to

Produced by Dallas Jenkins, son of author Jerry B. Jenkins, who is best known for his “Left Behind” series of bestselling religious novels, “The Chosen” is the largest crowd-funded show ever made. The first three seasons were completely funded, and fundraising is underway for the fourth season.

Jenkins is planning on seven seasons to tell the whole story. The first three seasons — eight episodes each — are available to watch on the Chosen, Angel and Peacock apps. Seasons one and two can be found on YouTube.

Before venturing to Texas, where they would also visit Jeanine’s brother and sister-in-law, they needed to create first-century costumes.

“It was fun for me because I used old sheets to create my husband Joe’s costume/tunic,” Jeanine said. “I had a long scarf dress that worked well for me with added embellishments and head scarves.”

“The Chosen” staff provided extras with sample costume designs to copy. Once in Midlothian, everyone had to go through COVID screening to ensure no extras were positive, then the extras went on a bus to be driven to the set.

“We had three days of filming. (It was) a lot of hurry up and wait, but both Joe and I served in the military in the Marine Corps, so we were used to that,” Jeanine said. “The cast and crew were exceptional. We had tents to sit under in the 105-degree heat, and they kept us well hydrated and fed.”

The couple, who are members of St. Anne Parish in Pleasant Prairie, had no speaking roles, but on cue, they would cheer and raise their hands for bread and fish. While Jeanine enjoyed every second of the experience, it was more a labor of love for Joe, who was not crazy about the heat.

“I was much more excited to participate in the scenes of the feeding of 5,000, as the heat reminded my husband of his tours in Iraq. The wearing of what he called his ‘dress’ was a little weird for Joe. I chuckled a few times watching him try to cross his legs or sit in his tunic,” said Jeanine. “Having to wear a headdress was a little insufferable, to say the least, but the great news was we were able to have umbrellas and sunglasses right up to the point of filming and in between takes.”

Throughout their experience on the set of “The Chosen,” Jeanine and Joe were able to meet some of the cast members, exchange a few words with them and laugh with those playing Jesus’ disciples. Additionally, Jeanine has something in common with her father, who also had experience on a film set.

“When he was in college at the University of Southern California, he participated as an extra on the big movie post productions, ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘Ben-Hur,’ starring Charlton Heston, when they shot extra scenes on the soundstages,” she said. “My mother also worked for 20th Century Fox when I was young, so we had grown up around movie sets dreaming of that way of life, as silly as it seems today.”

While no one has been able to pick them out of the scene, many of their friends saw their names in the show credits.

“The crowd was large, and Joe and I enjoyed staying to the side and back out of the hustle and bustle of the crowds,” said Jeanine.

While it was sweltering and at times they were dripping with sweat, the experience, which included 12-hour days, gave a realistic boost to the couple’s faith.

“We were able to experience what it might have been like to live during Jesus’ ministry, and it has only helped to increase our faith,” Jeanine said. “We know the show isn’t a perfect fit for our Catholic faith, but it sure provides a place to start discussions with our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

To maintain authenticity during the series, Dallas Jenkins, who is an evangelical Christian, sought input from Catholic theologians, a Protestant minister and a rabbi.

“This was probably one of the most professional crews I ever saw; we had our morning, afternoon and evening scenes and they were pumping water into us, feeding us, and had ambulances available for those who became dehydrated,” said Jeanine. “The crew was just as dedicated to us as they were to the stars of the series and the men who played the disciples were very social and interactive, and made us feel as if we were part of the team.”

While the experience was one of the highlights of their marriage, Jeanine said she wouldn’t do it again.

“We wanted the chance to participate, and we did,” she said. “Now we are saving our dollars for our trip to the Holy Land next March.”