“The only reason I made a commercial for American Express was to pay for my American Express bill.” –Peter Ustinov, English actor, writer, and dramatist

While it’s true, landing a role in a good commercial can make you some extra dough, it’s the exposure commercials grant that can make all the difference in building a successful career in the acting industry. Take for instance Golden Globe Best Actor nominee, Christian Bale. He was nominated for his role in American Hustle, and has already won countless awards including Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter in the 2011 Academy Awards. But his first acting jobs consisted of a role for Lenor fabric softener when he was eight years old, and a Pac-Man cereal commercial at the age of 9 in which he played a rock star. “I started my career without fans,” Bale once said. This is just another reminder that a career is built, and not preordained.

Likewise, Matthew McConaughey began his acting career in 1991 appearing in…you guessed it: commercials. Now he’s been declared the Golden Globes winner for Best Actor acknowledging his gut-wrenching performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

The much-loved Jennifer Lawrence just took home a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle. She can add it to her growing collection including the 2012 Oscar and Golden Globe award for Silver Linings Playbook. So how did she start her to-die-for career? She kicked it off appearing in commercials for MTV’s My Super Sweet 16.

Never underestimate the power of legitimate work. Okay, you may be selling fast food, insane video games, side effect-laden drugs, or some other farcical product; but, you’re gaining valuable experience and you’re taking the steps to become a more seasoned, confident, and nuanced actor. Commercial acting is not easy. It’s like any other form of acting, but it’s expressed in 30 or 60 second increments. It’s authentic work, and it just could lead you to the red carpet of the Golden Globes. And the money’s not bad either!