Sonya Thompson makes her living playing dead.
“I’m just good at playing dead,” the Hall County woman said.
The 46-year-old’s most famous role is a walker on “The Walking Dead” TV series. In fact, she can be spotted in several episodes of the first and second seasons of the post-apocalyptic zombie show on AMC.
This was not Thompson’s first venture into portraying a zombie. Before “The Walking Dead,” Thompson appeared in the film “Zombieland” as a lunchroom lady zombie in 2009. She credits her experience in the film to landing a role on the TV show.
“It was one of my favorite projects to work on,” Thompson said about “Zombieland,” a film starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone.
She was even picked to be part of a team that created a training video for other actors, and she appears in the behind the scenes footage on the DVD of the film.
“It was just a really great experience,” said Thompson, who filmed most the scenes in Valdosta and Atlanta.
When Thompson auditioned for her role on “The Walking Dead” in 2010, she had a leg up on going to “zombie school,” she said. The school included tips on how to walk and act like a zombie.
“It was like one huge audition,” Thompson said.
Eight of the 200 or so people were chosen to do promotional photos. Thompson was one of the lucky few. She now appears on the cover of several magazines, DVDs, T-shirts, mugs and other merchandise marketing the show.
“We had no idea how big it would be,” Thompson said.
She admits she had an inkling “The Walking Dead” would be popular. In the first episode of the series, “Days Gone Bye,” a little girl zombie gets shot by the main character of the show, and Thompson was there for the scene.
“Everyone has big expectations for the shows they work on,” Thompson said. “But you never know.”
When she’s not acting, Thompson has a reflexology office based in Gainesville. But performing has always been a constant in her life.
When she was a young girl, Thompson never imagined herself portraying a zombie on a television show. But she got a taste of performing when she was in chorus grade school. And for a brief time, she was a professional clown.
“I’ve always done a lot of different things,” Thompson said. “I get bored easily.”
She began seriously pursuing acting after her now 27-year-old daughter, Ashley, became interested in it. The duo booked a movie in Athens about 19 years ago, where they were asked to dress up for a spring wedding scene. More recently, they were in the TV show “Drop Dead Diva,” which centers on a supermodel who dies in a car accident and is reincarnated as a plus-size attorney with a genius IQ.
While Ashley has moved to the Netherlands, Thompson has appeared or worked on more than 70 films and TV shows in the past 10 years.
She’s traveled all over the nation, from California to Florida, for different conventions and events.
Thompson takes pleasure in meeting fans, who she attributes to the show’s success.
“I love meeting with the fans and getting their take on the show,” Thompson said.
The woman also traveled to Germany from May 19-23 to appear at Movie Park Germany’s “Weekend of the Dead” event. She signed autographs and met with fans of the TV series.
“The Sick People,” another zombie flick where she plays a dead patient, came out at the beginning of May and is her most recent project.
For more information, visit Sonya Thompson’s website www.professionalzombie.com.