By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN What does it take to act in three commercials in one summer?
“I think patience is a key trait,” Alisa May of Delano said.
Alisa and her 8-year-old son, Justin, recently spent some time in California, where Justin’s acting ability had the chance to shine.
“It was pretty awesome,” Alisa said. “He did 12 auditions, got six callbacks, and booked three.”
Justin surpassed his first trip to California last summer, when he got 10 auditions, two callbacks, and booked one commercial.
“We’re going to do it again next summer, for sure,” Alisa said.
Justin’s first commercial this year was for Mattel, advertising a toy called Smokey the fire truck.
He is shown playing with the truck, and one of his lines was, “we got a fire to put out, Smokey!”
The commercial is airing on children’s television stations, such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
“His classmates saw it and brought it up at school,” Alisa said.
Justin’s second commercial was a public service announcement for animal shelters.
“I was playing in a sandbox,” Justin said. “There’s a cat inside the house, and the cat thinks I’m playing in his litter box.”
Justin was one of several actors, and the Mays aren’t sure what the final commercial looks like.
“We haven’t seen it yet,” Alisa said.
A week after the public service announcement, Justin acted in an online HTC commercial, advertising a tablet (similar to an iPad).
For the audition, Justin was told to pretend to be a superhero.
“I had to take my shirt off and flex,” he said.
During the commercial, Justin is running through a sprinkler, and his “dad” is drawing a picture of him on the tablet, looking like a superhero.
Because of Justin’s success, his agent helped him get an audition for a Billy Crystal film, as well. Although he didn’t get the part, Alisa said auditions are good experience.
“It’s a life skill,” she said. “Interviewing for a job should be a piece of cake.”
Alisa doesn’t accompany Justin when he gets callbacks, and he’s often in a room with five or six adults.
Along with acting skills, Justin is judged on his ability to take direction and stay focused.
More effort goes into creating a commercial than one might think.
In the Mattel ad, for example, Justin had to get his photo taken in six to eight outfits before it was decided which one he should wear. A stand-in child and hand model were also utilized during the filming.
When they weren’t going to auditions or filming sessions, the Mays found plenty to do in California, such as seeing the Teen Choice Awards gifting suite, sitting in the audience for Family Game Night, and visiting Universal CityWalk (which was only a mile from their apartment).
Although California provided many exciting opportunities, Justin also found enjoyment in simple things like eating at Taco Bell.
During one of their Taco Bell excursions, the Mays ran into the “dad” on the HTC commercial.
“It was funny, because we’re in this big city, and we’re both at Taco Bell,” Alisa said.
Another coincidence occurred while the Mays were flying home. They sat next to a man named Grant Litfin, who now lives in California, but grew up in Delano.
“He was coming back to Minnesota for a wedding,” Alisa said. “It turns out his wife works for Mattel.”
Justin also created his own excitement on the trip, when he was talking to his grandmother on Skype.
“He tricked Grandma,” Alisa said. “He started shaking the computer and pretended there was an earthquake.”