The Time I Got Cast in a Pollo Tropical Commercial!
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being featured in a Pollo Tropical Commercial!
Overall, the experience was an emotional roller coaster with exhilarating developments as well as not-so-fun, post-commercial realizations.
Either way, my commercial aired for 3 months and for 3 months, I kept getting calls, texts, and Facebook posts from friends saying that they saw me on TV! After congratulating me, most people would ask me one of three questions:
- How did you get the opportunity?
- What was it like? and
- Will you do more?
In this tell-all post, I’ve decided to give you all the details! Read along to find out how it all went down.
“HOW DID YOU GET IT? WHAT WAS IT LIKE?”
It was my older sister, Sally, who randomly stumbled upon the casting for Pollo Tropical’s commercial and casually suggested I audition. I thought about it for a second and on a whim, decided to do it. “Why not?” I thought. “What do I have to lose?” So I read their requirements and per their request, submitted my photo and a short description about why I love Pollo Tropical. The next day, which was January 6th, I got an email from them asking me to come in for a formal audition a few days later. Sure enough, when the day arrived, I got dressed up, drove almost 45 minutes to Miami to meet them, auditioned for like 5 minutes, and then drove 45 minutes back home.
That same night, I got an email from them asking me to come back 2 days later around 9:30am. The morning came, I got dressed, and eagerly drove down to Miami for what I thought was a callback audition. It turned out that it was NOT a callback but instead, was time to shoot the commercial! I had been cast and I didn’t even know it!
My excitement over learning this was short lived, though. Upon arriving to the waiting area, I found 20+ other actors and models (also known as ‘talents’), waiting for their turns to shoot. Apparently they had been there for hours before I strolled onto the scene. While they were told to get there by 6:30am and given additional instructions, all I had gotten was a, “Be there by 9-ish.” I sat down and tried to suppress the questions bombarding me about what that meant and why I was told something else.
As if that wasn’t unsettling enough, the longer I sat there, the more I overheard the talents bragging about all the movies and commercials their agents got them cast in. You can imagine my dread when one of them turned to me and asked me who my agent was and where my headshots were. I HAD NONE! I politely expressed that I had neither and looked away—mortified and feeling even more insecure. Competition was thick in the atmosphere and you could feel the talents judging one another and trying to establish their dominance. I was beginning to question why I even decided to do it.
After about 2 hours of waiting, a crew assistant finally walked in, looked around the room seemingly searching for the next person in line, and then of all people, landed on me! She signaled for me to follow her to go get my makeup done, after which I’d go film. I was shocked! I was literally the last person to arrive and yet one of the first to be chosen!
Either way, I followed her up the stairs, got my makeup done, and then headed back downstairs to film. When I got to where the film crew was, I stood waiting as they filmed 2 other talent ahead of me. During that time, the crew members complimented me, asked a ton of questions about who I was, and just made me feel so special! And of course I grinned and thanked them and just tried to take it all in!
Just when it was almost my turn to shoot, it started raining. We tried in vain to resume when the producer finally said to me, “We’ll have to pick up shooting after lunch. Here’s my jacket so your shirt doesn’t get wet. Also, would you like to join me and the crew for lunch?” (Say what?) Of course I’m like, “Who me?! 😀 Okay! Yeah, sure! Thank you :-)”. So my happy-go-lucky self jumps into my car heads to the restaurant totally on cloud 9! I didn’t know WHAT was happening but I felt like a million bucks!
Le sigh. 🙂
I should’ve known not to get too excited! haha
As SOOON as I walk into the restaurant, I walk to the back and realized that ALL the talent were there and had been invited to eat with the crew too! (hahahahah) Maaannn!! My little ego deflated so quickly to realize my invitation wasn’t anything special! (lol)
Annnnyhow, I shrugged and went on to try to strike a conversation with the other actors and models. That’s when I realized they were averting my gaze and were actually visibly upset with me! (I put 2 and 2 together and realized they were probably mad because I got called ahead of them earlier!) Seriously? Oh well!! Momma ain’t raise no fool! Favor ain’t fair! (lol)
I shook off their ‘haterade’ and moved to the front of the restaurant, where I saw the makeup artist, Jenya, sitting alone! Unlike the talent, she was inviting and smiled kindly at me. So I decided to go sit and talk to her as I waited for further direction. In our conversation, I learned that she was from Europe and had lived all over the world doing makeup for various TV shoots and such!
We were deep into our conversation when next thing I know, the rest of the Pollo Tropical crew members fill in the seats around us, the waiter starts serving me champaign, and suddenly I am eating the most delicious pasta dishes I ever did taste! The whole time I’m thinking, “Oh goodness! Am I allowed to be here? What if they kick me out to the back? Ahhh!!”
I barely have time to think deeply about that though because once conversation with the rest of the crew got going, there was no stopping! We mostly spoke about what everyone from this diverse crew did and how they ended up where they were! Thankfully when they asked me what my role on the crew was, my new friend Jenya responded with, “She’s a singer & a model!” That then led to some really awesome, quality conversations!
As I spoke to them more, I found out that the guy sitting in front of me was the Director of the whole project and to my right was the Creative Director, who would decide what footage made the final cut in the commercial! Here I was talking to the most influential people for this thing and here they go asking ME about my music, who I was and the various projects I was working on! And guys, I sat there sipping my champaign and answering those questions like I freakin belonged there! lol And I did! 🙂
Some time later, the crew members started leaving to get in place for the next batch of shoots when I looked up and realized that this whole time, none of the other talents had been fed! Literally, they had them in the back the whole time waiting for the crew to finish eating before they fed them! What made it worst is that they didn’t feed them the yummy goodness that they had just fed us; instead, they gave them cold Pollo Tropical. (Oh snap!)
Before I could even let THAT sink in, the producer comes over to me and informs me that it was my turn to shoot and that I needed to go freshen my makeup again. So right in front of the previously shade-throwing haters, me and the makeup artist stand up, go to the back and freshen my makeup! lol The looks in their eyes and the questions on their faces were glaring: “Who IS she and why does she get such special treatment?!?!” (Girl, I’m still trying to figure that out!!! hahahaha)
Annnnyway, we go back outside, I spend 20 minutes recording my part for the commercial all the while people are passing by and wondering the same thing. “Who IS that girl?!?”
Once I’m done recording my part for my 15 seconds of fame, I get in my car and drive home.
The commercial hits the airwaves about a month later and the rest is history!
“DO YOU PLAN ON DOING THIS AGAIN?”
Ehh…who knows?! Honestly, I got really turned off by how feisty the environment with the other talent got and realize that I don’t really enjoy modeling. I love the results of amazing pictures and think it’s super cool to see myself on TV! But just as you read, the behind-the-scenes of being a talent isn’t very glamourous. The end result doesn’t have enough fulfillment for me to be fine with sucking up the long hours and other crap that come with the whole process—at least not right now. So I’m certainly open to opportunities that will bring big bucks and ultimately make a difference in people’s lives! But until then, I’ll be sticking to my singing, speaking, YouTubbing, and Entrepreneuring! 🙂
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