Gossip with Benita Robledo, The Righty Tighty Gal from the Lowes & USPS Commercials, and, well, Gossip Girl.
Benita Robledo | Fifteen More Minutes – Smartasses Magazine
If you’ve seen either the United States Postal Service “Genius” commercial, or the now famous Lowe’s “Training” commercial, you can probably count yourself among the millions of people on this blue sphere we call a planet, who begged the question, “Who Is That Hot Ad Girl?” Well her name is Benita Robledo, and she does much more than melt our hearts for thirty seconds at a time between quarters of NFL games.
Smartasses: So, how fricking sick to death are you of people shouting “Righty Tighty” at you whenever you go out in public?
Benita: I don’t really mind when people say it, I just have no idea what to say back! Should I repeat it? Do a knee slide? Maybe I should carry around a couple of wrenches from now on, give them a live version!
Smartasses: Ha, well, just a guess here, but I’m going to guess that most women recognize you from Gossip Girl, and most men recognize you from the Lowe’s commercial. Any truth to that?
Benita: You guessed correctly! Yeah, I’ve done a lot of commercials over the years to pay the bills, especially when I’m doing a lot of theater, but the Lowe’s commercial really seemed to stick for some reason. Which totally caught me off guard, but it’s cool! I mean it’s flattering that people liked a 30 second spot enough to take the time to look up who was in it. Or maybe it annoyed them enough! Ha ha!
Smartasses: So, what’s going on in the Benita Robledo world these days?
Benita: I do a lot of theater and have a BFA in acting. I do a lot of different stuff and that’s important to me. Also, I’m developing a script and am in pre-production for a new webseries. So that’s what I have coming down the pipeline. Oh! And I just became the voice for the new Justin Bieber fragrance. My 14 year-old self is super jealous.
Smartasses: Yes, theater. I noticed on your resume that you’ve played Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Do you realize that this is my absolute favorite Shakespeare play, and that Viola is my favorite character in that play? That is a huge character. I’d love to know more about this. This had to have been a pretty big deal in your life.
Benita: Um, did you know Viola is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters ever too?!? Even before I played her!?! I went to a performing arts high school and the summer before my senior year we were selected to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So we flew into London and did the whole touristy thing, and then went up to Stratford-Upon-Avon and saw the RSC perform Twelfth Night. I remember sitting in the audience and thinking I had to be Viola some day. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be her? She goes from completely bereft with nothing and no one in a time when women were property and in an hour and half she’s in love, married, and has her brother back! And she’s a smart tough chick, which I love. So anyway, I’d always had it in the back of my head that I wanted to play her, and it ended up being my first professional job! And it was in New York City, a city I’d always dreamed of living in. It was a nice welcome to the world of acting. Of course the role had its challenges. I was already putting in 10-hour days at school, commuting to the city by train, and learning massive amounts of text. Plus the director interpreted the play like Viola and Sebastian were Cuban and Illyria was Key West, so I had to learn a Cuban accent, which I’d never done. And I was still figuring out my processes. But honestly, I was just so excited, I loved every minute of it. Wow, that sounds so corny. But it’s true!
Benita: I LOVE Extras. Such a good show. Man, those Brits really kill me. I’m a huge fan of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Peep Show. Yeah, there’s something to the word “processes” that immediately makes me think of an actor that wears a beret. It’s so stuffy! I love what I do, but actor’s aren’t saving lives ya know? We’re not performing heart surgery. I don’t like to take myself too seriously.
Smartasses: Nice. So tell us about the web-series and the script you’re producing.
Benita: Well, I’m working on a really amazing play right now called Accomplice: Hollywood. It’s actually more of a “theatrical experience”. It’s like if the movie The Game were real… and funny instead of terrifying. It’s produced by Neil Patrick Harris, which you know means it’s going to be hysterical! Also, I’m getting ready to film a web series called Hollywood Walk of Shame with Kiowa Gordon from Twilight. No promises that he takes his shirt off… but he takes his shirt off! And then in my slightly less crazy busy moments I’m writing a feature! It’s still in development (I.E. I need to lash myself to the computer), so I don’t want to say too much about it. But I will say that it’s a comedy, a fantastic director is interested in directing, and it’s going to be awesome.
Smartasses: Good projects! And might I say, The Game is my favorite mind-f*ck movie of all time. Good stuff. Web series’ are so much fun too. First one I recall watching was something Rosario Dawson did that wasn’t bad, but I think I lean more towards the comedies myself. I’m not sure if she’s ever done a series per se, but I’ve at least seen a bunch of shorts from Aubrey Plaza that have cracked me up.
Benita: The only thing I’ve really seen Aubrey Plaza do was in a Portlandia sketch. I’d definitely agree that it was deadpan gold though. Any time I see women doing comedy it makes me happy. There’s been a stereotype for too long that women aren’t funny. Every time I hear that I’m like Hello! Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey… the list just goes on and on. Ha ha Girl Power!
Smartasses: Totally agree about women comedians and girl power. Our readership here is exactly 50% female for a reason, ha ha. So I have to ask, speaking of female leads… because the scenes on your Demo Reel were great. Whatever happened with Patito Feo on MTV?
Benita: Patito Feo was a pilot I did for MTV. It was about a Mexican girl (me) who moves to Jacksonville, Florida with her family, and has to brave the waters of an American high school. And it was so fun and funny! Plus I got to work with amazing people. Bert V. Royal, (Easy A), Andy Fickman (You, Again), Terri Weinberg (The Office) and just a ridiculously talented cast. But in the end, MTV did pass on the project. They wanted to go in a different direction. Oh well, that’s the name of the game.
Smartasses: Was the fear of being typecast in only Spanish type roles ever a concern for you? If it was, that is not at all a “vibe” I get when I think of you like it would be for Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek or something. But looking over your resume, it seems as though things could have easily swung that way, which leads me to believe perhaps you made a conscious effort to avoid it?
Benita: I don’t think anyone, actor or not, likes the idea of being pigeon-holed. Yes, I’m Latina and I’m proud to do roles that represent that, but that’s not all there is to me. I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend. These are all stories that I want to tell. For me, I’m drawn to a project because of the story. That’s what I love about acting. One day I get to be a chola from East LA back in “juvie” for the third time, and the next, I’m the girl next door flirting with the quarterback.
Smartasses: You’re definitely a Jill of all trades, which brings me back to you being the voice of Justin Bieber’s new fragrance. I suppose that’s the one thing we have in common, since I’m a voice actor as well. So tell me, voiceover work, stage, film – Which method of acting do you prefer? My guess is that stage would be the most rewarding, and voice would be the easiest- especially given the fact that half the time in film, you have to go back and voice over your own voice anyway.
Benita: Argh! I can’t really answer that. I love them all for different reasons. Voice over’s are great because no one can see you and you can be as ridiculous in the booth as you need to be. I did a V.O. once where I was supposed to have a mental breakdown in a funny overblown kind of way. One of my lines was literally “Why god, whhyyyyy?!?” You should have seen me in that booth! I was hamming it up like you wouldn’t believe, but it sounded great! Plus with a V.O. you don’t have to spend an hour in hair and makeup! With theater, you definitely have a through line that you’re experiencing on a minute by minute basis. You can’t forget where you’re just coming from because the last scene was only two minutes ago! And sometimes you just get on a roll that’ll take you to completely unexpected places.
On the flip side, if you spaced, or forget a line, or want to try something different, there’s no director to call cut. You can’t re-shoot. And there’s an intimacy to film or tv that you can’t quite get with theater. There are no close ups in theater. Let’s say I’m in bed with my lover and I want to snuggle up and whisper that I love him, well if I’m on stage and I try that, the audience would demand their money back!
As for a method, I don’t know if I’d say I use one specific method. I’ve studied all the ones you’re supposed to study and done my fair share of “As if” and sense memory, and I do use that stuff, but in the end I mostly try to focus on my partner and what I want from them. Someone once told me that all acting is reacting, and I really agree with that. If you’re not listening your lost.
Want to know more? Check out Benita Robledo’s Bio Page, right here on the Smartasses Network.