I roll my eyes and exhale loudly. Is someone REALLY yelling at me from down the hall? I’d just sat down and turned my computer on when seven artsy folks race down the corridor and skid to a stop at my desk.
“There you are!” an older gentleman exclaims, panting and rubbing his balding brow. He seems to be the group leader. The artsiest. “We need popcorn.”
I hadn’t even set my coffee down or read through my entire illegible to-do list, which I’d scribbled in my notebook the previous evening. According to my highlighted reminders, this morning I was supposed to process a large pile of house account forms, retrieve credit card numbers from multiple residents for various reasons (and pretend to laugh when they say, “don’t go shopping, now”), and create invoices for three groups who are having office parties on the Club Level next week. And this guy wants me to make popcorn?
“Who are you, again?” I raise one eyebrow and sit down, my composure harsh against the group’s noticeable anxiety.
“We’re from San Francisco Ad Group,” the leader says quickly, “and we’re shooting the commercial for the Condo. The actors are in the Screening Room. They’re all ready to go, but we need popcorn. For a prop. So it looks like they’re at the movies? Can you make some?”
“No problem-o!” I pop up from my swivel chair and fly down the long hallway to the Screening Room, struggling not to trip over my sky-scraping heels, with the group following close behind me. Who could the actors be? Sean Penn? Drew Barrymore, maybe? I hear they have homes in the Bay Area. The hallway stretches for miles as my imagination runs wild. When I plunge through the double doors to the theater, a group of good-looking (but definitely not famous) “actors” huddle in the corner. One of them tells me he did a Cheerios commercial once. What a letdown. I dig an extra large spoon into a greasy tub of coconut oil, which I then dump into our carnival-style popcorn machine along with a handful of kernels.
Three of the artsy-fartsy guys start whispering, and I imagine they’re asking each other why I’m not wearing a red-and-white striped apron and a paper hat (because this picture would be complete with that ensemble). I’m wrong. They ask me if I’d like to be in the commercial. Um, I think I can put those invoices on hold to live out my girlhood fantasy of becoming a famous Hollywood actress, yes.
My role is colossal: I enter the Screening Room, turn on the movie, put the screen down, smile, turn, and exit. And it takes only three hours to get right.
Later that evening, one of the ad agency girls approaches my desk and asks if I’d like to stay until 9 or 10 p.m. to shoot a night scene on the terrace. She’ll pay me cash. I say yes.
I’m a paid actress! I can add “Starred in a commercial for Luxury Condo” to my resume! Maybe I’ll quit my job!
Not only does she pay me, but also she serves elegant wine to the "talent" throughout the entire shoot. We go through bottles and bottles, take after take. My role? Is to stroll through the outdoor terrace past the beautiful gas fireplace, chatting and saying hello to the “residents” whom I run into along the way. Big smile, stop, turn to look at the view, then exit.
After two hours of shooting, the crew and I head to Perry’s on the Embarcadero for a late-night meal in celebration of completing the commercial. We order beer, more wine, champagne, and gourmet burgers and fries – compliments of the ad agency.
I feel like a star.