After arriving in New York City, Frank Zabilka, a senior musical theater major, started his summer off with a “bro hug” from comedian Adam Sandler.

Last year, Zabilka won the Sandy Wexler Contest, earning him a walk-on role and a week on the set of Sandler’s new Netflix film, “The Week Of.”

Zabilka has always had a love for comedy and is known for being a huge Sandler fan, so he was thrilled when he found out that he won the contest.

“It was kind of crazy,” Zabilka said. “I didn’t even know what to say.”

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Jake Barcelona, a junior communications major, grew up with Zabilka in Lemont, Illinois, and remembers frequently visiting local comedy clubs with him.

“Not even 10 minutes away from our homes there was a comedy club named Riddler’s,” Barcelona said.  “There’d be 15 people in the audience and we would both go up and give a five-minute speech.”

While Barcelona was the runner-up of the competition, he was still excited for Zabilka when he found out that he had won. 

“If I ever earn something big, Frank’s always there rooting me on,” Barcelona said. “When he got Sandy Wexler, it was an awesome accomplishment.” 

During his week in New York City,  Zabilka acted, met with costume designers and spoke with film director Robert Smigel and Emmy-award winning actor Chris Rock while on set of the upcoming movie.

In the film, Zabilka plays a character named Frankie. The film is about the parents of a soon-to-be married couple making the final preparations for the wedding ceremony.

Zabilka said on set he realized just how different acting in a movie is from a theatrical production.

“The great thing about film is that you can do a million takes,” Zabilka said. “On stage you pretty much have one chance to get it right.”

The movie is set to release in 2018, and Zabilka plans on continuing his passion for performing even after he graduates college. After graduation, Zabilka and Barcelona plan to move to Los Angeles together and continue to perform.