About Writing

Becoming a TV Personality

At the beginning of this year, I received notice that Ancestry.com was looking for stories of people with ancestors who were suffragettes. They wanted a two-minute video about that person. I jumped right on that. If you’ve read my novel UNDER THE ALMOND TREES, you know that my great-great-grandmother, Ellen VanValkenburgh, sued the county of Santa Cruz, California, to vote in 1862. I created the video and sent it off.

Ancestry first contacted me about using the video in a short social media piece. I was thrilled and gave permission. In June, they emailed me again and wanted to use my great-great-grandmother’s story in a TV commercial! The production company set me up with a microphone. They explained in pre-COVID days they would have sent a whole crew to my house for lighting, recording, interviewing, and even hair and makeup. I could really use that hair stylist, but no. Everything had to be done remotely.

I ‘met’ with the technician twice to determine lighting and location inside my home for the filming. Then we had to place the microphone, and choose distance from the computer. Since my phone has a better camera than the computer, they had me clip my phone to the computer. We practiced interviewing via Zoom and recording on my phone, then sending the video to them via the cloud.

Finally, it was filming day. The technician I knew logged on, then the interviewer. Three people from Ancestry were also present, but muted and not shown on screen. We chatted for about half an hour, then took a break. We did two more shooting sessions where I repeatedly recorded single lines. They even said, “It’s a wrap!” when we finished.

The entire commercial will be about 30 seconds, and I will be one of several featured Ancestry stories. For this they shot almost an hour of material. We’ll see how much actually gets used when the commercial airs in the beginning of August. I’ll post it on my YouTube channel in case it doesn’t air in your market. Go subscribe to my channel now!

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