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Do You Know This Woman? I Certainly Don’t!

Posted on 2009.04.27 at 15:03
Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: I Never Knew Her Name - Elton John
Her name is Stephanie Courtney. I learned that only yesterday, after a couple minutes of digging around on the internet. So who is she? Well, she’s an actress from New York, now living in Los Angeles and married to a lighting director named Scott. I don’t know either of them, nor am I aware that we have any friends in common.

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!


Hand built by robots.
onceupon at 2009-04-27 20:13 (UTC) (Link)
It's so funny - I love those commercials but didn't recognize her headshot at all. I am predisposed to like quirky people like Flo.

And that's the thing - Flo seems very real. She's quirky enough to be interesting but, maybe because I know a lot of really freakin' quirky people, she's not a caricature.
charlesofcamden at 2009-04-27 21:00 (UTC) (Link)
I think you've hit on a big part of Flo's appeal. She seems like someone you'd like to sit down and have coffee with. There are so many commercials that I react to by thinking, "Geez, I don't like ANY of these people. Why would I buy this product? I don't want to be like them!" The fact that Flo is likable is nice to see.
(Anonymous) at 2009-04-30 01:39 (UTC) (Link)
Funny you should mention her; I always think she reminds/looks like our cousin, Rita. Cousin has some great comedic timing and that same sparkle in her eyes; they sound similar as well. Always fun sharing with you! -Middle Sis
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