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they audition people for this?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ever wonder what it takes to have your face seen in the background of a commercial for a few seconds? More than one would think. I never knew, but now I do. You learn something new every day…

I was called in to audition for this KFC commercial. It was going to be a 13-week test cycle, meaning they would run the commercial in select markets with the option of making it national should it do well.

Lesly Kahn had just posted a blog about what to do when you are stuck waiting at an audition for an hour or more. As an actor, sitting there waiting for that long can really drain your creativity. Her advanced class of students had varying opinions on the matter. Some suggested leaving and coming back another day. Well, in the commercial world, that’s not an option considering the callbacks were the next day. Others suggested leaving for a few minutes to take a walk outside. Which is what I chose to do, considering I had to wait two and a half hours for my audition… So long, in fact, that they ordered us pizza. Yeah, that happened. Oh, and we were in an “underground” casting office in a basement with no Internet, no water fountain, barely any light… But I digress.

I took a little walk to put more money in the meter where I parked. Twice. And then took a third stroll down Hollywood Blvd to grab a cold Perrier (so LA of me, I know). When I got back, it was just about time for me to go in.

They brought in me and three other girls, who looked like some weirdly similar version of myself, and first had us do what we had done the day before in the initial audition - we “stood in line” and reacted to what took place around us. (Once the commercial airs, you will see what I mean.) Then the director gets up, walks over, thinks to himself for a minute, and says, “Is there any way we could get 4 chairs in here and have it to where they are sitting at a booth?” The casting director reluctantly complied, clearly worried about how behind schedule they were.

We did another take this way, and the director, clearly not quite getting what he wanted, says, “Okay. Let’s see. Would anyone be willing to like shove back their chair and duck under the table?” I immediately threw up my hand and said, “I will!” (Thank goodness for all those improv classes, cause I “Yes, anded” it without even thinking.) The director goes, “Great! Meredith! You do that.” (Always a good thing when they know your name.)

So we did another take like this, and this time I ducked under the table, peeking my eyes out to get a glimpse of what’s happening. Apparently I have very “expressive eyes” that worked to my advantage in this situation because he starts dying laughing – either at how funny I was, or how brilliant his idea was, or maybe a combination of both. Regardless, he loved it and said, “That is exactly what I was looking for!” And… lo and behold… I booked it! And turns out they decided to go ahead and make it national! Apparently all it takes is being willing to make a complete fool of yourself. And being available and in the moment. And having thoughts while you are reacting. And multiple improv classes. And years of auditioning. And finally getting the right agent who submits you for such projects. And having the “look” they are going for… You get the picture.

Anyway, we get to set, and I don’t do ANY of what I did in the callback. You might see my face in the background, reacting, but nothing drastic or hilarious. But that’s what it takes in this industry… You have to stand out. You have to go above and beyond even what they are going to see you do should you book the job. I think one of the biggest things in commercials is about your personality and if they want to work with you on set, etc. But who knows? It was only my first one. I just hope it’s not the last.  

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