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How many times have you failed to get a commercial spot and then later saw the finished product?

Actress Belgica Paola Rodriguez, occasionally happens upon commercials for which she’s auditioned. Rodriguez is a Los Angeles and San Francisco-based actress who hosts a YouTube channel providing informative content for aspiring actors. Her videos cover topics ranging from self-taped audition tips to recommended online acting classes. 

Curious to compare her self-taped auditions to the actual aired commercials, Rodriguez watches them side-by-side to see what she can learn. “I often see these commercials on TV or online before a YouTube video or something, and then I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what they were going for,’” she says. 

 

The Benefits of Self Taping

Pre-pandemic, session directors most commonly taped the actors’ auditions to be exclusively viewed by all the casting professionals on the back end of casting (producers, directors, ad agency pros, etc.). In these instances, performers never viewed their audition tapes. But the days of social distancing have largely pushed the casting process online.

Now, talent often produce self-tapes to be submitted for commercial roles via the internet. In turn, actors can not only shoot multiple takes of their auditions, but they can review, submit, and save the auditions for future viewings.

 

Comparing Footage

In Rodriguez’s first comparison video, she auditioned for a Christmas commercial for Zulily in September 2020. “So the actress that they cast instead of me is actually my friend … and the reason why I’m saying ‘instead of me’ is because in the specs it did say, ‘Latina 25 to 35.’ From me seeing the commercial, I could see there was only one Latina.” (Her audition can be viewed here).

A second comparison video features Rodriguez’s self-tape for a Bed, Bath & Beyond commercial. She actually tried out for two roles in this particular ad: “the customer” and “the employee.” “In the notes of this audition it said that they wanted [a customer]. Essentially, this person is used to doing online shopping only, and they’re actually going into a store, and they’re like, ‘What is this?’ Right?” Afterwards, she tried out as the employee who was supposed to be “very chill,” if not “deadpan.” 

The aired commercial featured a more exaggerated, comical performance from the customer. This was, likewise, a more deadpan version of the employee than Rodriguez’s take on the material. 

 

The Lesson

“I do see how I could have auditioned better if I was in an in-person audition vs. a self-tape audition because I could have gotten feedback from the director right then and there, and then been able to make it closer to what they ended up casting,” Rodriguez reflects. “But in general, my audition was, I think, okay for what they gave me.”

While Rodriguez did not land either of these spots, she certainly is not deterred from pursuing her acting goals. “It’s very rare that I get upset for not getting a certain role,” she says. Rather, she remains enthusiastic and continues to audition frequently, understanding that casting is a numbers game. 

Have you ever compared your self-taped auditions to the finished, aired commercial?