Commercial opens doors for theatre student

The lakecity’s aspiring musical theatre student Stephanie Johannesen has landed a key role in a commercial for Famous Footwear.

The snow Stephanie Johannesen is blowing in this commercial made last summer in Vancouver for Famous Footwear is fake snow made of biodegradable corn starch. Stephanie

The snow Stephanie Johannesen is blowing in this commercial made last summer in Vancouver for Famous Footwear is fake snow made of biodegradable corn starch. Stephanie

The lakecity’s aspiring musical theatre student Stephanie Johannesen has landed a key role in a commercial for Famous Footwear.

“I was so fortunate to have such a great first spot on this commercial,” says Stephanie. “The team was so amazing that I got to work with … the Famous Footwear clients were happy and everyone did amazing work.”

She says the 60-second commercial aired on television networks this winter was shot over two nights in Fort Langley last August, fake snow and all, with director Loni Peristere and the “incredible folks” at Zoic Studio in Los Angeles.

“The director Loni Peristere was a wonderful person to work with and the crew was so professional that it was electrifying being on set,” Stephanie says.

“I also had the experience of working with a high-speed camera called the Phantom HD Gold, at 600 frames per second. This means that when you film yourself blinking on this camera it will take 10 to 12 seconds. So you can imagine everything had to be just right.”

“This shoot was a blast and I owe the camera team and G&E a tremendous thanks — especially to the incredible focus puller Cam Hayduk and my buddy and gaffer, Mark Lindsay.”

She says the artificial snow is made from a biodegradable cornstarch base. 

In her first audition for the commercial Stephanie was required to tell a story about herself in a room with the casting director and the camera man.

“They must have enjoyed my story about playing hockey in Williams Lake because I got a callback,” Stephanie says.

“In the first callback we were matched up with other actors for the leading male. In this audition we did an improv; sort of ‘speed dating’ in front of camera for the director to see chemistry between actors.

“Then I was called in the second day of casting. In the second call back the clients’ photographers, producers, casting agents and pretty much everyone working on the project is invited in to the room for the last and final decision.  

“I auditioned twice more that day with two different male leads and then an hour later driving home we got the call that I booked it and I had to drive back to Vancouver to get fitting for costumes!

Stephanie, 21, is a third-year student in Capilano University’s musical theatre program who caught the theatre bug while attending Williams Lake Secondary School in Williams Lake.

“I was in or helped out in every show since I was in Grade 8,” says Stephanie. “I loved it. It was so much fun. I think what made it so memorable was the atmosphere; Dena Baumann the music instructor, Jill Sawatzky and Sidonie Boll (theatre teachers) were a huge inspirations to me.”

But Stephanie’s decision to study theatre didn’t come right away.

After graduating in 2007 Stephanie went off to study sciences at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

She was interested in becoming a nutritionist but while attending TRU she realized something was missing.

“My older sister, Natalie, was attending the musical theatre program at Capilano and my mother and I would drive down to Vancouver from Kamloops to see her perform,” Stephanie says.

Inspired by those visits Stephanie applied for and was accepted into the musical theatre program herself. She went on line to find out how to apply, wrote a letter, prepared a monologue, chose a song, prepared a dance and went to the audition and interview.

“I received an acceptance letter about month later,” Stephanie says. “I was so excited I was practically speechless.”

She says the musical theatre program at Cap is very diverse in that it teaches all aspects of acting, dancing, singing, theatre history, technical theatre and acting for film and television.

“This school gives you tools to audition and prepare for your career in the performing arts. There have been grads going on to pursue film careers, teaching careers, even dancing on cruise ships or starring in a musical at the arts club,” Stephanie says.

The work can be stressful at times but when she asks herself whether she would like to be doing anything else the answer is always no.