People Who Have Been In 'Real People, Not Actors' Commercials Share Their Behind The Scenes Stories


These are not actors.... but they should be!

Who all know those ads... everything from, "I've fallen and I can't get up," to "Have you or a loved one been... (fill in the blank with a tragedy__________)." The infomercial is a tv staple. And the people who we're assured who are not actors but real life humans, can become more famous than Flo from "Geico."

Redditor u/IITSpeedII wanted to hear from the "not actors" who have been apart of these productions... what's the dish? By asking.... People who have participated in "Real people, not actors" commercials, what actually happened behind the scenes?

Buffet Time!


I was in a Chinese buffet restaurant commercial as our u14 soccer team just won a trophy and one of the parents booked us as the "on screen talent." Idea being we'd all celebrate at this restaurant the big win in the ad and we'd all enjoy it and go there. We all did it for the free meal.

Later they got shut down after multiple cases of food poison. Reddit


A friend of mine was in one of these for NASCAR. They wanted NASCAR fans and he got chosen. He hates NASCAR and ended up watching 4 hours worth of NASCAR documentaries just to seem like a more realistic fan. He was an actor, not a real person. Yotsubauniverse


My friend and his family were asked to be in a local commercial for a drug rehabilitation center. The day it was filmed, the camera crew got caught getting high in the bathroom which caused delay in filming. True story. typhoidtrish

Statistically the crew probably got high at other shoots too, but that drug rehab center probably had more people per square foot who can spot that crap a mile off. WechTreck

Use Him! 

I was interviewed for a news show about an educational program I was attending. My answers contradicted their agenda (which I found out later when watching the program) so they didn't air any of it, but because I was the most heavily tattooed individual in my class they used random footage of me throughout the entire program, more so than any of my other classmates, it was kinda odd. bubikx

You're Out!


As a producer of some of those commercials, the vast majority of the real people end up on the cutting room floor. 2old2care

What, were they too convincingly human? Cool_Ranch_Dodrio

A Family Affair....

Newspaper ad, not commercial. My grandma worked at a hospital for 40+ years and my dad worked there too, so the hospital had my whole extended family do a photoshoot to play up the whole "taking care of the whole family for X years" for an ad campaign. My mom had to work but she showed up at the end to pick us up or something.

They end up taking a few photos of her alone. When the ad was released in the local newspaper it was A HUGE FULL PAGE OF JUST MY MOM! Haha it felt like such a waste of time for everyone else to be there, but at least they gave us the pictures for free. The quote next to the full body shot of just my mom was something like "all three of my kids were born here, the hospital does so many good things for the community..." Blah blah.

Anyways they ran that full page ad of my mom at least once a week for MONTHS. Her friends gave her so much shit for it and cut her face out to make little masks, it was funny. Luckily my mom has a good sense of humor. I don't think my grandma was too happy though. She wanted to be in the paper. anynamemillennial

This too can be you! 

They are all literally randoms plucked from Central Casting. So they may not be "actors" in the sense that they're not trying to make it in Hollywood or whatever. But maybe their SO is trying to be an actor in LA and they sign up for Central Casting also because it's cool to get preferential tickets to TV show tapings and to go for the occasional random commercial audition.

Source: friend who was in one of these commercials. clubber_lang

Make it Work...

My friend was in a bra genie infomercial as a "real person" she was trying to make it big in modeling as a plus size model. So her agent sent her the gig. She said they put her in clothes that were 2 sizes too small so that all of her fat looked lumpy and bumpy, and she was spilling out of the bra. When they put her in the (correct size) bra genie and clothes, suddenly, miraculously everything was fixed. 🙄 jesswilliams1111

Needing Specifics...

Commercial casting director here. Those commercials are typically 100% actors. I am sent a casting brief by a client with the roles they want to cast - young couple, family with kids, etc. I put up a post on a site called Casting Networks where random people who are actors or want to be actors submit themselves for various jobs (some have agents, some do not).

I pick the people with the best look that fit the brand and specs. Then I ask them to either audition in person or submit a self tape. Sometimes I'll look at real people too but it's a waste of time because they rarely get picked by the client since they're not as good on camera.

If it's important to the client that they use actual real people (rare), I'll often instruct the talent that I find not to reveal their profession. I don't want to waste days researching non actors they won't even use. Not enough money or time for that. pettylittlebitchista

The Homey Feel....


My wife, mother in law, and MIL's dog were in an ad for a hospital my MIL had quite a few surgeries at. They shot it in some homey yet high end suburban house. They got free lunch, but it was a long and tiring day. saintsagan

I'm Extra. 

I got to be an extra in a commercial the ad agency I was a copywriter for was doing. It was a promotional ad for the city we were working for and although we had a few actors, there was a lot that was supposed to be real people from the city to make it more authentic.

It was a scene at a casino and I didn't really want to do it so I just kinda sat there a couple of takes. The director pulls me aside and says, "Come on, play it up a bit. Be happy and excited." I told him, "I can try, but why would I be happy, they are the ones that won?" We did a couple of takes with me happy and clapping and moved on to the next. I was either really bad or he decided I was right, because they ended up going with the shot of me just sitting there. -eDgAR-

Thanks Avril. 

My Mom's college friend's nephew was an actor who was in Neutrogena ads under "real people, not actors." They played all the time until Avril Lavigne's commercials took over. He was at least half Indian so his second acting role was a Terrorist being killed by Jack Bauer.

I hope it worked out for him. spiritbearr

Hey Leo. 

I thought of every nice car ever, every possible award that a car might be able to give, and how I would react when they somehow showed us what was behind the curtain. I pondered what kind of car this could be. I imagined myself falling in love with this car.

I imagined myself winning an Oscar for my amazing performance of shock and love for this vehicle, and this being the beginning of my future... I could almost taste Leonardo DiCaprio's chapstick, and feel his warm hand on mine as I accepted MY JD Powers and associates award as a top pick for safety. Then they showed me. A Chevy! Literally the LAST car I'd expect to be pretty, luxurious, AND safe. I peed my pants in utter shock. A CHEVY?!?! This isn't how it was supposed to happen!

The smell of Leo's cherry lip balm drifted away, replaced by the slap of reality that this company gave me. "Not an actor." Chevy dashed my dreams, but they did make a pretty good car... they wouldn't let me in with my wet pants, but I guess I understand. Bangbangsmashsmash


Years ago when I was in college, I made it through multiple screenings with advertising casting folks for "Puffs tissues" (including a wild conversation with Mike Myers mother in law). They LOVED ME ❤️😍. Everyone was hyped.

When I got to the actual taping, it was even better. They loved my outfit, the color, my earrings. All positive comments!!

But, I was so nervous I kept calling them "Kleenex." The director was patient, and really tried, but I left knowing my brilliant acting career died that day.☹️ cardinal29

Get that Check!


I had a teacher once who was in one of those commercials. She told us the story of how it happened and showed us the commercial. She basically went to go get a new car and they were secretly filming her while she talked to the dealer.

They asked her what she thought about the car and about other things along those lines. At the end of it all she was shocked when they told her she was being filmed (I believe they put that part in the commercial but I could be wrong, it has been years since I saw it).

Afterwards they asked if they could use the footage they took of her and offered to pay her for it as well (She declined but she said they still sent her a royalty check every month despite her wishes). I was fairly surprised when she told the story but I guess there really are examples of legitimate "real people, not actors" commercials. drewey09

Good for the Ego. 

Kind of related but I was on a reality show that most people know is mostly fake. My husband and I are not actors but we had to act the whole way through as the situations we were in were made up. After it aired people complained that the show is just hiring models now instead of real people. Good for my ego I guess. Maimoudaki30

Just Play....

I was in some toy commercial a long time ago, can't remember for which company, but it was primarily targeted towards boys with some girl products, so I was one of the two girls on set.

We had to play with the toys and give a review, but the money they were paying us (plus free toys) and a chance to play with them all was too taunting, so we gave the best reviews possible. ourmooncity

Yay IKEA! 

Was in an IKEA commercial where my real-life best friend and I designed "dorms" for each other to sleep in. Didn't get to keep any of the stuff and all the comments on the video from people watching are vaguely homophobic. Pretty good way to make 500 bucks for very little work. panamasandwich

Get a Ford.


Spoiler.... actors are people too and the real people in commercials are actors 99% of the time. Literally. Sometimes, if they're being really honest, they'll find actors that own the product they want to promote (like "don't audition for this unless you have a ford.") ConnectYogurt

We're real! 

My parents were featured as "real customers" in a national commercial for a big cell phone carrier - they were coached/interviewed via video monitor and asked a ton of leading questions - their answers were chopped up and edited so their sound bites fit perfectly with the other "real customers" - they were also paid handsomely and able to take our whole family to Hawaii! My mom even joined SAG and did a bunch of extra work for a while to keep her benefits. AndreaLauren


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