When I get “writer’s block” or whatever it’s called when writers can’t seem to get started with a story or blog or report, I do nothing. My friend, who is retired from the mecca of broadcast journalism told me to write when I am mad. He said long time White House reporter Helen Thomas once said she solved writer’s block by writing about things that made her mad.
So, inspired by another High Heels blogger, Scott Bernard, whose blog is Ethnic ID, I had a brainstorm. It goes back to the day in 2005 that my husband was invited to audition for a voiceover job as Santa Claus. Hub has a wonderful deep, sexy voice so we knew he would get the position. He even practiced his “Ho, ho ho”. It was perfect. BUT, he never got the job because the producers wanted a “black Santa” who spoke ebonics, hood, ghetto, ignorant, split verbs…..however you want to categorize the dialect they demanded. It’s not that Hub didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t to it to their satisfaction.
That made me mad in 2005 and I got even more angry after reading Bernard’s blog. The media really does label people and if they don’t act like the label suggests, they don’t work. That inspired me to look into the salaries and net worth of some commercial actors and actresses who do exemplify certain social stereotypes. I was not surprised to learn those who obey, obey all the way to the bank.
We couldn’t find her net worth, but Diana Hunter, the Honey Bunches of Oats lady, retired in September after 40 years at the Battle Creek, Michigan company. The Post cereal company thought she would come off as authentic because she really worked at the company. Below is her original audition and commercial.
Read more about Diana Hunter at: http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/diana-hunter-retires-honey-bunches-oats-lady#ixzz4wtn2BoIn
Then there is FLO. Who doesn’t love Flo? After hearing rumors that Progressive Insurance once tried to dump Flo for a new spokesperson/actor, Flo’s longevity sparked my interest. It was reportedly the viewers, the customers and fans who put up a stink about even thinking of dropping the actress/comedienne Stephanie Courtney. She stuck it out and today Courtney is said to be worth a cool 5 million with an annual income of $800,00. As reported by CelebrityNetWorth.com it was Stephanie’s last minute decision at the original audition that may have won her the role. She told Forbes she had a revelation to make her audition different from all the other actors in the room. She weighed in on her experience, having done her first beer commercial in 1999.
“So I thought, She’ll love them to a fault where she’s walking the line of crazy. It’s like the love just spills over and becomes a tiny bit inappropriate,” she told Cosmo. “That’s what I came up with in the audition room.”
Just to compare apples and oranges……..
Remember “Can You Hear Me Now” in the Verizon Wireless ad? Actor Paul Marcarelli left Verizon to become Sprint’s spokesperson. In 2015, a Forbes article reported Paul Marcarelli had a net worth of 10 million.
Actor Dean Winters’ story is amazing because even though his net worth, according to The Richest, is 4 million dollars, Winters shouldn’t be here. He has had many roles in his career before Allstate’s “Mayhem”, but this one he says he appreciates the most.
The most interesting man in a commercial for me is “The Most Interesting Man In The World”. Jonathan Goldsmith acted during his younger years in the 1950s. As age started to upstage available parts, he left acting for a career in network marketing. He made money there but when that industry slowed down, he gave acting another shot.
Reportedly, the director was not completely convinced that Goldsmith was the one to portray ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World;’ most of the other actors were half Goldsmith’s age.
“How can the most interesting man in the world possibly be only thirty years old?” Goldsmith’s agent challenged the director and it worked. According to The Richest Goldsmith retired with a net worth of about 8 million dollars.
Carly Foulkes, the T-Mobile girl took over as spokesperson from Catherine Zeta Jones in 2010. The Canadian born actress was only 22 at the time, but had been working in the industry since she was 13. Today, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Foulkes’ net worth is 3 million dollars.
The Pine Sol lady used to make me mad because she was always cleaning or talking about it. Now I think I’m mad because it seems like she has been mopping floors for years and her reported net worth is only $2.5 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com
Comedienne Diane Amos started honing her craft a young age. Growing up in San Francisco, Amos started doing improv in high school, and later joined a local improv troupe, the National Theater of the Deranged. In 1986, she began doing her famous standup.
Before Pine-Sol, Amos competed on game shows to win extra cash in the mid-to-late 1980s. Amos won $14,750 on Wheel of Fortune, $13,000 and a trip to London on The $25,000 Pyramid and $18,400 and a La-Z-Boy recliner from Super Password.
She told The San Francisco Chronicle that she holds a lot of pride in being one of the few African American spokespersons for a national brand.
The biggest anger catalyst for me WAS the Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken lady. I almost thought I needed to enroll in an anger management workshop. Why does she have to accentuate a dialect just to sell chicken? It took me back to the “black no-talking Santa” audition 12 years ago. Then I read her story and it goes like this:
When Popeye’s researched ways to improve it’s image, one of its goals was to make sure the public knew Popeyes originated in Louisiana. That fact had escaped the consumer in the past.
To communicate those roots, Omnicom’s GSD&M created the chain’s spokeswoman, Annie, played by actress Deidrie Henry. According to the company, “When Annie is talking, she is characterizing [Popeyes] as being from Louisiana, so we don’t have to spend time convincing people we’re different”. Her accent was deliberate. Popeyes wanted her to represent “Louisiana culture.” Until 2008, the chicken chain, founded in 1972 in New Orleans by Al Copeland, was known as Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. Its name change to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was part of a larger brand-identity overhaul.
The award-winning actress has played a major role in helping Popeyes reach over 2500 locations in 26 different countries. The commercials have appeared during Super Bowl, NBA Championships, and pretty much the biggest rated events on tv. In terms of her personal resume, Henry has had roles in “The Riches,” “Criminal Minds,” “Justified,” “Glee” and the series “Game of Silence.” Here’s where I stopped being mad at the Popeye’s Chicken Lady dialect.
“In 2016, Deidre Henry made more than $6 million. She gets $10,000 per commercial, but it’s her cut of the commercial spots that keeps her pockets just as spicy as the restaurant’s spicy crispy chicken.” For example when the restaurant pays $100,000 for a 30 second spot during a popular sport’s event Deidrie Henry gets 5%. Popeyes is in the top 50 of most ad spots bought on television. You do the math. Way to go Deidre! You use any dialect you can muster!
Deidre Henry is married to Douglas Dickerson who is also a native of the Bahamas, Henry’s birthplace.©
by Dianne Thompson ® comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org