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Bonafide Gig

September 14, 2011 by Leah Baker

She’s bonafide! Tessa landed her first paying gig with a commercial shoot for the ND DOT’s Parents Lead campaign. She played the role of a seven year-old talking with her mother. Now that she’s nine, it was quite a stretch! Not really. Child actors are expected to be able to play up or down from their age by about 2-3 years either way. But, it was funny hearing her tell everyone she was playing a seven year-old. As if it would be so different from “acting her own age.”

For her segment of the commercial she was shown brushing her “mother’s” hair and talking. Tessa’s line was, “Mommy, why is it OK for mom’s and dad’s to drink alcohol?” And the mom shows surprise and sort of hems and haws at a response. The whole point of the campaign is to encourage parents to talk to their kids about the rules and dangers of alcohol early and often. If parents are unsure what to say they can easily reference the ND DOT’s website: for information and ideas.

So guess what this experience prompted me to do? Of course, talk to my kid about alcohol. As she’s practicing her line, Tessa addresses her real mother (me.) “So mom, why is it OK for mom’s and dad’s to drink alcohol?” I said, “Good question,” and not having yet referenced the website did the best I could and talked about responsibility and the maturity to make good decisions. I did check it out later and thought I did OK.

We shot her portion for a a little over an hour and I thought she was a trooper. Tessa’s “mom” in the commercial, Debby, was very nice and a very believable likeness as her mother. They made a nice blond team! Debby was a trooper too, having Tessa brush her hair in the exact same spot for an hour straight. Tessa remarked that she thought Debby’s hair looked longer by the end!

Results Unlimited was the production team on the job. They were great on the shoot and it was fun to see the little tricks of the trade. They pulled out some clothes pins to rest behind a framed print, changing the angle of the reflection off the glass so as not to interfere with the lighting of the shot. I was equally impressed when the camera man’s trained ears caught the refrigerator start to run two rooms away. The humming noise might have been enough to ruin the shot and I hadn’t even noticed.

It was a school day and I was a little reluctant to have her miss school for this, but knew she might not get many similar opportunities so close to home. The production team was really great about keeping a tight schedule and getting us out of there in time to get back for the last half of the day. As we left, the representative from Results Unlimited paid Tessa a very nice compliment. He said, “Good job today. You were very professional.” This was really nice to hear since she’s just started in the industry.

However, once we were out of ear shot on our way to the car she said to me. “So mom, when do I get paid?” I told her she’d have to wait for her paycheck just like everyone else. “What?” she said. “I wasn’t being greedy, just wondering.” I guess if you usually work for free, you don’t know the drill.

It was a really wonderful experience full of encouraging and professional people involved on camera and behind the scenes. I can already see a difference between the first commercial we were a part of and this one. Tessa is learning and catching on to the little details and nuances.

Parents Lead can definitely count their first success of this campaign before even hitting the airwaves. Their message works. Because of this commercial I talked to my kid about alcohol and I would bet that others will too.

1 Comment

  1. Krista says:

    Just saw the spot! Great job tessa!

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