So why am I displaying her photo? Did it come with a recently purchased picture frame? Am I moonlighting as a discount P.I.? No and no. Here’s the scoop – she plays the service clerk (named Flo, FYI) in a series of Progressive Insurance TV ads – you’ve seen them; I know you have. So the next question is: Why am I devoting this post to her?
Well, I have been an admirer of her work in those ads for some time. I always find myself thinking that she has a real flair for comedy and seems to have acting ability a cut above the norm. One could counter that she is playing an exceptionally distinctive character, what with her generously applied eye makeup, brightly colored lipstick, and flamboyantly styled hair standing in sharp contrast to her mostly white surroundings. But I think a strong sign of her expertise is that she does not “let the costume wear her,” as the saying goes; she uses it as a springboard to establish a vivid characterization.
Having spent some years holding a S.A.G. card and pursuing commercial/film work, and having many friends who still pursue it, I always root for commercial actors. Still, it isn’t something I talk about much. I entirely understand why most people couldn’t care less about the actor pitching Jiffy Lube to them, or the actors pretending to be a couple describing what a difference Cialis has made in their lives (hmm… could you combine those two products into one commercial? Nah… better not go there).
Recently, CC and I were watching TV when a Progressive commercial came on. As it ran, CC commented on how exceptionally good she thought the actress was, and how she thought the actress might be bound for more high-profile work. Well, it was nice to feel some validation, since I’d been thinking the same thing! I thereafter resolved that I must find out who this was and help spread the news to the wider world. As you can see if you look here, at her IMDB.com bio, she’s been pretty busy in recent years, though she hasn’t yet gotten the breakthrough role that would enable all of us to recognize the name Stephanie Courtney. But if she does end up hitting it big, it will be fun to go back and spot her early work as an unknown, such as her 1 episode of ER, her 1 episode of Angel, or her 5 episodes of Mad Men. It reminds me of a few years ago when I was watching an old episode of The Andy Griffith Show and suddenly realized I was looking at a young Jack Nicholson!
So good luck to you, Ms. Courtney. Someday, perhaps I’ll be able to say I knew you when. OK, that would be a lie; as I said in the title of this post, I don’t know you at all. But I appreciate your talent and I hope it takes you far!