Stardom — or, at the very least, notoriety — can come in any number of ways. It came for Lana Turner after she was discovered in a soda shop. Paris Hilton shot up to the A-list (or at least the cover of the tabloids) thanks to a sex tape. So why can't a career be made from four commercials for a men's body spray? Rachel Specter certainly isn't complaining.
"Everyone has to start somewhere," the model/actress said, describing the unlikely vehicle for her sudden popularity.
Specter is the latest in a relatively small line of actors and models who have found their visibility raised exponentially thanks to little more than a 30-second spot on television.
But perhaps that's selling "the RGX girl" short. Forget trying to convey star power and charisma on the big screen in a few choice scenes. Imagine trying to be memorable in a commercial for a body spray that always seems to air right before Rosie welcomes the audience back to "The View."
Either you've seen the commercials or you haven't. And if you have, you remember them. You remember them with a crystal-clear recall that simply doesn't befit an ad for a men's grooming product.
She's talking to you, slowly approaching the camera in a clingy black dress. "I want to smell you from right here," she says with a mix of sly whimsy and come-hither sexiness. Her presence combines Rachel Bilson-like perkiness (fitting, since Specter was cast in a Comedy Central pilot aping Summer from "The O.C.") with the get-a-load-of-this sex appeal of Denise Richards.
Specter recalls the notes she was given for the audition. "The description was a 20-something model type who is also approachable," she said. "They had us read it a few different ways. Like, 'This time read it like you're giving advice to your little brother.' They obviously didn't go with that one."
No, they didn't. Not for the aforementioned ad or for the spot in which Specter leans forward, her low-cut top leaving little to the imagination, while talking about a man's confidence. If you forgot what the ad was selling, you'd be forgiven.
Since the four spots Specter shot in February began airing, there has been a noticeable difference in her day-to-day life. "Sometimes people look at me weird, but I'm not sure if they recognize me or they're just looking at me weird," she said. But the greatest indication of her upwardly mobile fame factor? Google searches and MySpace popularity.
"A week after the ads started airing, my MySpace page started to blow up," Specter said. She explains that there quickly seemed to be a large Internet conversation under way: Who is the RGX girl? A quick search of "RGX girl" bears this out. Debates over her sexiness vs. the Carl's Jr. girl's are outnumbered only by those desperate to discover her name.
Of course Specter hopes her name gets in the hands of the right people. The real question for her lies in whether she can transcend "RGX girl" status to become something more in line with her ambitions. The history of flavor-of-the-month commercial wonders is a checkered one. For every Rebecca Gayheart, who was able to go from Noxzema girl to "90210" actress, or even Ali Landry, the onetime Doritos girl who's achieved a modicum of celebrity, there are a dozen Dell dudes. If your memory is foggy (and that proves the point, doesn't it?), Benjamin Curtis was best known as the Dell dude some years back thanks to a string of commercials in which the young actor was positively stoked about your purchase of a computer. The last bit of attention Curtis garnered was for a marijuana arrest in 2003.
Specter is well aware of the pitfalls that can plague budding actors who achieve fame in unlikely places. But things are looking up, she insisted. When MTV News spoke with her she was enthused about the biggest development to come from her newfound notoriety. "I just did a table read today for a movie that Adam Sandler's company is producing," she said. "They called my people and were like, 'Can we get the girl from the RGX commercials?' " And so there Specter was, reading alongside Sandler, Anna Faris and America Ferrera. Not bad for a young woman who just three years ago arrived in Los Angeles from Florida without a clue. "I didn't know what I was doing," she admitted.
Meanwhile, RGX is clearly happy with the arrangement. Specter's four commercials are all over YouTube, littered with comments ranging from the flattering to the obscene. As for how that translates into sales, Advertising Age magazine reports that the campaign is working, with the Right Guard spinoff garnering "1.5 share points in the body-spray category."
Specter is uncertain where the campaign goes from here. She says she shot six commercials over the two-day shoot, leaving two more ads waiting for a giddy public eager to grab screen captures and debate her status on message boards. (We'll save you the trouble: She has a boyfriend.)
Until then, Specter's quest for lasting success continues. She has already guest-starred on shows like "Entourage" and "How I Met Your Mother" and appeared in films opposite Harvey Keitel and Steven Seagal. On working with the latter, she reveals a savvy that belies her inexperience. "No comment," she laughed. Welcome to Hollywood.
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