I submit for auditions on LA Casting almost daily and on occasion get sent to auditions by my Agent for commercials. I had one period a few years back where I was called back for three National commercials in a one-month period. But, like most LA-based actors I couldn’t make a living at the craft. A few do, however and within that small category are the very few who score recurring roles as Spokespersons for a product.
Like Flo is for Progressive Insurance.
After watching her in commercials for two years I decided I had to find out more about her. It turns out that the actor Stephanie Courtney, is local, has been a member of The Groundlings for years, married two years ago and celebrated her forty-first birthday two and a half weeks ago. In addition she has been in some big-time movies, Blades of Glory, The Heartbreak Kid, and Melvin Goes to Dinner. She has appeared on House, Everybody Loves Raymond, and had a recurring role in Mad Men. So she truly is living every actor’s dream.
I doubt if I will ever get my “big break”, and I am content to go to the occasional audition and the even more occasional paid booking. But I found myself dreaming again when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal last week entitled “The Funny People Behind the Famous Ads”. The article featured Stephanie, along with Matt McCarthy, the Cable Guy, and Pete Holmes, who is famous without anyone knowing what he looks like. He is the voice behind the E*Trade baby.
The article mentioned several famous actors who had lesser-famous parts in commercials when they were starting out. Specifically: John Travolta (Safeguard soap), Morgan Freeman (Listerine), Meg Ryan (Aim toothpaste), Tina Fey (Milwaukee Mutual Savings Bank), Brad Pitt (Pringles chips), and Leonardo DiCaprio (Bubble Yum).
As I watched The Oscars Sunday night I couldn’t help but recognize that likely almost all of those actors being honored had some exposure in commercials. Well, maybe not 14 year-old Hailee Steinfeld, but I wouldn’t bet against it. In contrast to big budget movies, most commercials choose to put their money into production rather than into actor’s salaries. So, they offer the unknown actor the best chance of moving up the professional ladder.
So, I’ll keep submitting and hope that someday I may realize Every Actor’s Dream. I’d be interested in knowing what some of your dreams are.