commercial

Is This Heaven

No, it’s Iowa!

WIND FARMS!

WIND FARMS!

Your intrepid actor-adventurer here, reporting in from the Quad Cities (that’s Iowa, for you not from…Iowa), where I am here on assignment. Tomorrow brings an on-camera shoot for a hospital, and I have done my due diligence in looking into the local scene.

This must be the place…

This must be the place…

After getting into town early, I checked out the art museum, the sculpture garden, the Iowa state capital building, and Raygun (a well-known local store known for their irreverent t-shirts and other gift-y things), all within two hours. It helps that nothing is very far from anything else!

The capital building is made of gold…shhhh!

The capital building is made of gold…shhhh!

I wouldn’t mess with her…

I wouldn’t mess with her…

A person made of letters

A person made of letters

Sculpture that ran away from the sculpture park

Sculpture that ran away from the sculpture park

Egg-shaped art sculpture

Egg-shaped art sculpture

I also got dinner (or I guess it was more accurately an extremely late lunch), checked into my hotel, had a bath, gave myself a pedicure, and watched an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Highly recommend!), and worked on some cross stitch all in the past few hours. It’s easy to get a lot done when there aren’t any distractions.

Any who…where was I?

Oh, yeah. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I promise to be better at that next year. And SO MUCH has been going on!

Since my last post: I went to Iceland. I went to Atlanta. I did voiceover work for Hershey, Great Clips, Traditional Medicinals, Yoplait, some random other stuff, and just this past week I did another spot for the Pillsbury 49th Bake-Off!

Somewhere in Iceland! Volcanic rocks and stuff!

Somewhere in Iceland! Volcanic rocks and stuff!

Whale shark at the aquarium in Atlanta

Whale shark at the aquarium in Atlanta

I also finished my work on the fictional podcast I’ve been working on for almost two years, Au: Earth Under Gold which should be released sometime next year.

Is he still there?

Is he still there?

I shot a short film with my friends at Urban Mountain Media for the 100 Hour Film Race (spoiler alert: we got disqualified because of computer issues keeping the team from meeting the deadline, but the film will still get finished eventually).

The new year approaches! What will it hold? Who knows! But I hope it’s at least as awesome as this year has been!

IMG_8785.JPG

Accurate pictorial representation of how I feel after this fall

All these things that I've done

Helloooo!

Once again, I got so busy with all the exciting things I've been doing that I forgot to update…. What’s been happening? Here’s the quick rundown of everything since January 1st: 

IMG_1672.PNG

 

 

 

In January, I did a VO for Traditional Medicinals…as soon as it’s released, I'll post it. I can't wait to share it, because it's really delightful. 

 

 

 

IMG_1178.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same day, I shot a short film called Old Media Studies, written and directed by Stephan Clark. I play a New Media Studies professor with a pretty, ahem, exciting wardrobe. 

IMG_1671.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, I voiced a really inspiring piece for Cambia Health. I’m not sure if I’ll get to share this one or not, but it was a great experience. I love reading copy that has that edge of wonder to it. 

 

 

social_thumbnail_square.jpg

 

 

 

 

Last weekend, I shot a training video with Best Buy, and learned a lot about what it takes to install washers and dryers. 

 

 

IMG_1406.JPG

 

 

 

I’m currently taking an online VO class with the fabulous Tina Zaremba…can’t recommend her enough! Click here to check her out!

And I registered to attend VO Atlanta for the first time!  I’m so excited to attend this conference, meet other VO artists and industry people, fill my head with knowledge until it explodes, and get inspired!!! 

 

 

 

 

 

Other fun and exciting things:

1. A client told me my voice was “magical.” How does one even begin to accept that compliment? By stuttering, that’s how. 

2. I can’t prove it, but it actually happened: Ben Folds told me I was a good singer. I’ll accept that compliment as well, but once again, not without stuttering. 

3. I did a self-tape audition with my cat (they asked for him to audition as well, I didn’t just include him of my own accord). 

4. BONUS! I have wanted to see The Killers for years...and they were as AMAZING as I'd hoped

Basilica Block Party...Just a Little Bit Late

I never claimed to be good at this blogging thing. 

MOM JEANS

My harrowing tale of love, loss, and the parrot that got away

Last month I shot a promo spot for the Basilica Block Party, a really fun little video spoofing Unsolved Mysteries-style tv shows. I worked with a (rather ill-tempered) parrot, and got to wear really unflattering mom jeans. Everyone from Periscope was really fun to work with, and I got to see Brandi Carlile and The Shins, so I guess it was worth it to wear the mom jeans and work with a diva bird. 

I Get to Say Spiderman on National Television

Ever wonder who does those really fast voiceover tags at the end of commercials? Well, I have a national spot airing for General Mills cereals, and I get to mention Spiderman...but no one will ever know it's me!  (Except that I just told you it's me...so...damn)

Not sure how long this link will last, but if you want to see my spot for GM/Spiderman Homecoming, check it out here! 

 

Let me talk!

I just got back my new narrative Voiceover demo! I'm so excited! 

If you'd like, you can listen to it here on Soundcloud

It was not quite a year ago that I got my commercial demo produced, and a narrative demo was next on the list. Mike Stalcar produced both of them...I just love working with him!

Also, a friend of mine and I are discussing a podcast we might want to produce in the near future. Keep an eye out for that as well!

In the meantime, if you need a female voice for a narrative or commercial project, you know where to find me! 

 

Where Did Last Week Go?

Hello friends! I just shot a 💣TOP SECRET 💣political ad last week...cuz, campaign season. I got to be on set with a bunch of people I know, including my roommate! It was just an extra gig, so I probably won't be visible anyway, but it was great to be on set! 

 

Also, last week, I performed for the first time at Off-Book, which is this really great improv show at Huge Theater where one actor is off book for a scripted scene, and the other actor doesn't even know what scene they're in and has to improvise the lines between. I was given a scene from John Patrick Shanley's play "Where's My Money?" Talking to the other actors who were doing the scripted part, I found that almost all of them were similarly terrified, whether they had done Off-Book before or not. Most of them were respected actors around town who I'd worked with before, so I really felt like I was in good company. Maybe I'll go do it again sometime, but I'll let the adrenaline wear off first!

image.jpg

Voiceover Spree

Less than three weeks after recording my demo, I booked a VO for a Health Partners TV spot! And I've got more recording coming up, including a post-apocalyptic audio web series, children's books for educational modules, and a couple of more spots. It's going to be a busy summer!

"What? I can't hear you!" 

"What? I can't hear you!" 

Years in the Making

So… I have been putting off making my voiceover demo for years.

A year ago, I finally contacted people about studio time and demos and actually made some connections in the interest of actually recording a demo.

Now, a year later, I have actually, finally, recorded my demo. And today, I finally got the finished product!

 

The whole story: 

I went to Mike Stalcar at Audio Ruckus last week. We met a few months ago, before both of us went on respective vacations to Belize (him) and me (Italy), and chatted about the actual recording, as well as what my background is and everything else that might be pertinent. And we talked about travel, and how we both like to travel by going in random directions without a plan, just feeling out whatever path feels right. Mike was so easy to talk to, he made me realize that just like with the travel, sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and make steps in a direction that feels right. Even if you're a bit apprehensive. That's how all the cool stuff happens. That's where the rewards are. 

I recorded my demo on Thursday of this past week, and despite having prepared for it for years, I still felt scared, and apprehensive, and nervous about if I would be able to perform adequately, if I would screw it up, if I had the right material, and etc.…but it was SO MUCH FUN!

For a little bit of background, when I was a kid, I was given a tape recorder for my seventh birthday. I was given a couple of actual cassette tapes of bands I liked, and also a package of blank cassette tapes. One of my greatest joys of my childhood, was to hang out in my room, and record songs off the radio. I also took to recording my own commercials, of products and things that I made up entirely. I would spend hours in my room doing this. Sometimes, my mom would yell up the stairs to me to ask me a question or demand that I do something, and my usual response was "Mom!! Shhhh! I'm recording!" So, this has definitely been something Ive wanted to do for a long time.

Well… I am so happy to have a finished demo! Who knows what will come of it, or if I will get work. But I am heartened by the fact that on the first day after I recorded the demo, and even before the demo was finished, I messaged one of my agents about the demo and she immediately sent me a response saying"Yes! I would love to listen to it when it's done. By the way, did you submit for this particular audition?" So, the day after recording my demo, even without having it in hand, I was able to audition for a radio commercial that will be recording soon. 

My acting teacher always says that work begets work. That even if you are just doing scenes in class, the universe will respond in kind. Maybe it's something to do with your attitude that you put out into the world, or perhaps it is that people see that you are working, but whatever it is, WORK seems to come from you putting forth work. A religious person would say that God helps those who help themselves. 

A quote, often attributed to Goethe, also follows in this vein: 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
— http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth12.htm

 

It is begun! Let's see where it goes!

 

A Commercial with Meaning

In January, I filmed a tv spot for Gundersen Health Systems. In the spot, I portray a patient nervously awaiting a biopsy. It was a great gig to get. I worked with a director from California. I got to go home and visit my family. I got paid well enough to splurge on my first trip to anywhere off the continent. But mostly, I was proud of this one because it was something I believe in. My mom's sister was a nurse at Gundersen Lutheran. She passed away two years ago after fighting cancer for two years. My dad's parents both went through cancer treatment at Gundersen. My sister works there as a CNA tech while getting her nursing prerequisites. I feel honored to have gotten to work on this spot, and happy that my family, most of whom live in the area, and especially my grandmothers, get to see it on tv.

 

 

Home again, home again

Last week, I shot a tv spot for Gundersen Health in my hometown (La Crosse, WI).  I was super surprised to show up on set and find Tom Kristjanson, Nathan Armstrong, and MUA Mary Flaa all there, as well as my friend Brian Kelly (there to do a different spot), and the lovely Jen Maren co-starring with me in the spot I was doing. It's always nice to see friendly faces on set! 

The shoot went very smoothly (I mean, come on, I spent the whole thing sitting/laying on a hospital bed and wearing yoga pants and a robe), and director Michele Atkins also DPed the spot (way to be a badass!). Carrying that huge camera around all day has got to be exhausting, but she made it look pretty easy. 

I got to take my sister to dinner the night before the shoot, have drinks with her and my friends afterwards at the hotel bar.  

My entree at Pogreba's...scallops the size of my fist! 

My entree at Pogreba's...scallops the size of my fist! 

And the next day, I got to visit my family, including a trip to the casino with Grama and my cousin CJ and aunt Debbie. 

Me, gram, and aunt Debbie

Me, gram, and aunt Debbie

My only complaint about the whole thing was this: 

Stupid hotel. 

Stupid hotel. 

I'm super excited for this one, since it will air where my family will actually see it. Keep your eye on Western Wisconsin television stations, and I'm sure you'll be seeing me soon!

 

 

Medica "1975"

This past week, a commercial I shot for Medica started airing in a few markets, including locally. The spot is called "1975" and in it I am wearing a dress I bought at Goodwill when I was about fifteen. Gotta love the vintage clothes!

Medica still.jpg

If you'd like to see the spot, it's available to watch on the Medica Nebraska website.  I am also featured in a few still shots on the site as well, so go check it out!

 

MN State Lottery Spot Now Airing

The MN State Lottery spot I shot two weeks ago just started airing this week! I haven't seen it yet (I don't have live TV at home), but my friends have been telling me it's great. One of them mentioned something about human/loon eroticism(?) It's highly possible, knowing how crazy my facial expressions can get.

Mark, Tom Kristjanson (back), me, and director Jason Ho (Photo by Bo Hakala)

Mark, Tom Kristjanson (back), me, and director Jason Ho (Photo by Bo Hakala)


Mainly, the shoot involved me drinking a LOT of soda. By the end of the day, my wardrobe was covered in slushie, and I was a little bit sticky and a lot bit shaking from the sheer amount of corn syrup I had ingested, but it was all worth it. 

Shooting the spot was a BLAST! Director Jason Ho and the crew from Committee Films, especially DP Bo Hakala, were awesome to work with...they both have really great upbeat energy. I knew two of the guys on crew (Tom Kristjanson, with whom I worked on the Uptown Girl Movie, was pretty much my personal cup attendant for the day), the makeup artist Mary K. Flaa (worked with her two other times), and actress Jane Froiland was also on set with me. I hadn't worked with Sarah, my wardrobe person, before, but she and I got along swimmingly as well. Nice to have friendly faces around! I'm so grateful to everyone for making it such a fun experience, and grateful as well to Toni at A&E Casting and my agents at Talent Poole for helping me get there.

I've heard the spot will be posted online eventually, and I will share it here when that happens.  In the meantime, check out Jason's and Bo's reels - they've got some pretty sweet footage on there! And also, check out In An Instant on ABC, which was also produced by Committee Films for ABC TV. A lot of my friends appear in episodes of the show!



Booked!

I wish I knew more about the ins and outs of social media in regards to self-promotion in the acting world. I don't want to say anything where I could potentially get fired from my exciting opportunities.  So...here goes nothing! (Vaguebooking alert)

I got booked for a really exciting commercial gig for CLIENT, and I'm shooting the spot tomorrow! As soon as I clear it with people, I will post more info here, but for now, just be happy that I'm getting paid work, which I will then use to get new headshots (long overdue) and record my VO demo (even more overdue).

And I haven't been posting here as much as I would like.  It seems like so much work for some reason, even though it really shouldn't.  Part of it is how many auditions I've been on in the past few weeks (four auditions and a callback last week, two auditions and two callbacks the week before), plus prepping for upcoming season auditions and working a ton of cases at the U of M Medical School. I sat through the first readthrough for Candid Theater Co's upcoming production of Collected Stories, which looks like it's going to be awesome, and helped get the press release ready for the two shows they're running in rep (some of my first duties as a new board member!) I wrote a new article that I hope to shop out soon, and I'm working on another article which is due next week.  So much going on! All great things!

Until the next fortnight...but hopefully sooner,

Billie Jo