Monday, July 18, 2016

Steve Ellis, former College Station actor, lands spot in two Honda Summer Clearance commercials

Former College Station resident, Steve Ellis (far right), is included in two national Honda TV Commerical features for Honda Fit and Honda CR-V models, sings Go-Go's song, "Head over Heels."(Photo credit: Screen grab from YouTube)

This morning checking the Facebook News Feed, there's an "oh, by the way" mention of a new commercial spot for Steve Ellis, as though these things happen everyday. de rigeur for a Monday. Except it's not. I've written about Honda commercials before, because their ad agency is brilliant at using beloved music (often 30+ years old) to evoke great music memories to promote feelings of love for a car. You associate the music you love with the Honda they love, and presto, it's a match made in Heaven, right? It worked well enough in a series of holiday-timed Happy Honda Days spots with the music and face of Michael Bolton. Often with national television commercials, they can be gateways for more opportunities in an acting career that many just dream about.

Many in College Station and Bryan know Steve Ellis--mostly by voice, whether it was from Candy 95 where he did guest stints on the radio whenever he was back in town. Or, if you're in the younger crowd, you'll know Ellis' voice--live from the DJ booth in the many Northgate clubs where he has a standing invitation to guest, whenever he's back. But today, there's two national commercials that include Steve singing "Head over Heels" (a favorite Go-Go's song) amidst stardust and a dream sequence as Honda lovers focus on their 2016 Honda Fit and 2016 Honda CR-V in the Honda Summer Clearance Event. And yet, a very modest Steve Ellis said 'nothing' to anyone, about this national commercial debut as recently as two weeks ago, when he was back in Bryan-College Station to join family and friends.

When Steve Ellis decided to pursue acting as his primary career goal, before he set off for Los Angeles, he took the important first step of seeking the wisdom and counsel of Nikki Pederson, talent agency owner and queen of honest opinions. He went through Nikki's program and then, with her blessing, relocated to Southern California, with opportunities to participate in further workshops run by trusted coaches. Steve also had solid access to multiple talent agents, several of whom were interested, and some who led Steve to auditioning opportunities. Ellis did stand-up comedy (that he wrote) in the usual LA clubs, mostly just to entertain others, as he studied the more serious aspects of script writing. He kept night-owl hours, while honing his craft in workshops but he never gave up. He's already had his first writer's showcase in California as well. That's another secret to success: diversity. Be everything they need to the business, for the business, to help further your opportunities.

It's fun to turn on the TV and see young people whom you've had the privilege of watching since they were 5 years old grow up to be actors on national TV. But, the reality of making it in the California entertainment industry is that no matter how talented you are, breaks don't always come your way. It's the difference between sticking with it and working even harder, even when breaks are flowing others' way, it seems. It's the not giving up part that takes the journey from endless to endlessly joyful (e.g., dessert with friends, right).

That's the part of the journey that most don't see--the day after day that you get dressed, appear early and prepared, with head shots and resumes in hand, and wait for hours for a five-minute window to show what you've got to a group of people who scrutinize people all day long. They don't know the exhilaration of a callback, only to have that hope dashed after a second (or third) table reading and then find out that you have to "wait some more." Work hard, show up, and stay up...focusing on the positive is another key ingredient that determines whether or not you can actually make it. And, respect the talents of others who are working beside you to catch breaks for their dreams to come true as well.

Seven happy actors are featured in this group photo from "Honda Summer Clearance Days" commercials--any one of them could be the next big commercial find (Flo from Progressive, Mayhem from Allstate, Jake from State Farm, J.K. Simmons from "We are Farmers" to "Whiplash"), so stay tuned. Click here to watch the video (Screen grab from YouTube)

What's unique about Steve, to those of us who know him well, is that he acts, he can sing, his oratory and flexibility with voices is singularly special. Plus, he's got a natural sense of humor that makes him a pleasure to be around. He's a Southern gentleman to boot, but with encouragement, he can shift on a dime--going from Optimus Prime to a Hanna-Barbera or Disney character--even channeling Rick Ross if he has to. So, you never know what roles will call him toward one path or the other. He has wisely used his spare time working at his craft, and he's been reading for several commercial spots that require his multiple voice talents, competing with professional voice artists who have been at their craft for over 40 years.

He's about to crack through that market very soon, many believe. He can do any voice, from Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), to movie trailers, magically nailing "In a World..." by the late Don LaFontaine. So a simple conversation will often have you in stitches when he effortlessly shifts between voices. He's equally talented behind the microphone as in front of a camera, which should serve him well in days to come.

Congratulations to Steve Ellis and the other actors and singers featured in this commercial. It's time to celebrate, Happy Honda Days to all this summer. Watch Steve's (and Honda's) second commercial below.

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