February 8, 2012

Super Bowl Commercial Wins Big!

by Rachel Judy

Adjunct Professor Derek Leonidoff
Most of the time, commercials provide television watchers a chance to step away from the couch. On the biggest sports Sunday of the year, however, they usually provide the motivation to stay put. It was just such a commercial that had Derek Leonidoff, Regent University adjunct professor and coordinator of Regent's Varsity Improv Players (VIPs) troop, and many of his students and colleagues
glued to their seats Sunday night during the Super Bowl.
A Virginia Beach-based actor and drama director at Spring Branch Community Church, Leonidoff recently starred in a commercial titled "Man's Best Friend" produced by Virginia Beach-based Jonathan Friedman. The commercial was entered into the "Doritos Crash the Super Bowl" contest, which gave online voters a chance to select their two favorites from five finalists.

Fans had to watch to see which two Grand Prize winning commercials would air during the Super Bowl XLVI broadcast. On Sunday, Feb. 6, Leonidoff and his canine costar Huff were broadcast nationally during the game's second quarter.

For many of Regent's theatre arts students, seeing Leonidoff on screen and watching his commercial win national acclaim was both exciting and encouraging.

"Theatre is a collaborative art, and the professors in the department do an excellent job of cultivating community," said Sarah Grice, a theatre student in Regent's School of Undergraduate Studies (RSU). "[He] is a mentor and a friend to many of us."

Grice and fellow RSU student Jared O'Dell both agree that Leonidoff's work encourages them as inspiring actors. "It is beneficial to learn from people who are actively participating [in the industry]," O'Dell explained. "Their advice is not just 'this is what worked 20 years ago' but rather what worked last year. Plus, it is exciting to join them in their victories."

"You learn so much by working with actors who have more experience and training than you do," Grice said.

Because the commercial also made it to one of the top three spots (including ties) according to the USA TODAY Ad Meter rankings, Doritos awarded its creator $1 million and a consulting contract with a Hollywood professional with the opportunity to produce an additional commercial.

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