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Shoppers Bag Priceless Experience Before Cameras

A dozen Central Florida women get a chance to star in a series of ads and have fun in the bargain.

By Jean Patterson | Sentinel Staff Writer

January 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

"The View From Here" is a slice of local life by Sentinel reporters. Today, feature writer Jean Patteson contributes.

Grisel Fuller's mouth aches, and no wonder. She has been smiling nonstop for four hours.

"It hurts," she says, with yet another broad smile.

Fuller is one of a dozen Central Florida women selected to star in a series of TV and print advertisements for Stein Mart, the Florida fashion and home-furnishings store. Starting Feb. 21, the ads will appear in newspapers and on cable TV channels and network affiliates across the country.

Almost 200 Stein Mart shoppers in Orlando and Tampa were invited to audition for the commercials, says Nancy Alderman, the chain's director of product development. "We tried to zero in on women with personality, energy and cultural diversity, who enjoy fashion and are close to our target age of 35 to 55," she says.

Fuller, 38, born and raised in Puerto Rico but now living in Orlando, is a perfect fit. She's mad about clothes, shoes and jewelry, loves to shop, and has a personality to match her high-octane smile.

Other "stars" from the Orlando area are Janean Davis, a 33-year-old pharmaceutical sales rep and mother of two daughters, and Kyle Albano, 45, of Lake Mary, a marketing coordinator for a property-management company.

"It was a blast," says Davis, who has made a few commercials. "But this time I didn't have to act. I just had to be myself."

Albano, who had never modeled before, "loved doing it."

"The minute I was in front of the camera, it came kind of natural," says Albano, a mother of three.

She returns to the set this week, along with a group of friends who meet once a month to play Bunco. "We play for prizes, which I always buy at Stein Mart. I guess they want to show that," Albano says.

When Fuller was told she had been selected for the shoot, she was ecstatic. "I'd thought I'd won the Lotto," she says. Unlike Davis and Albano, who hope the experience will lead to other modeling jobs, "I'm happy to be a star for a day," says Fuller.

So at sunrise on a late January day, Fuller arrives for her shoot at Universal Studios. After trying on about 20 outfits, she settles on a hot-pink top and flirty skirt printed with pink and green butterflies. A makeup artist applies matching pink lipstick, and a hairstylist poufs her sassy bob.

"OK," calls a voice from the salon doorway. "Let's get the talent to the soundstage."

"The talent! That's me!" exclaims Fuller, flashing a great grin and teetering off in her pink stiletto sandals.

"You look beautiful," says Tim Fisher, creative director with Fry Hammond Barr, the agency producing the commercials.

"I feel beautiful," responded Fuller, treating Fisher to her megawatt smile.

Leading her to the center of the brilliantly lighted stage, he gives her the same advice he gives all his models: "Calm down. Take a deep breath, then close your eyes and breathe out slowly to the count of 10."

An assistant director holds a clapper board in front of her face. "Take one!" he calls, and the shoot is on.

"Tell me your name, what you do," prompts Fisher.

"I am Grisel," Fuller responds. "I'm a stay-at-home mom. My son, Gabriel, is 6."

She studied travel and tourism at Daytona Beach Community College, worked as a ticket agent at Orlando International Airport, and is married to Glenn Fuller, a pilot with Continental Airlines, she continues.

"Do you love to shop?" Fisher asks.

"I love to shop," she replies.

"Where do you shop?"

"Stein Mart, of course."

Fuller is a natural in front of the camera. She catches on fast, listing all the things she loves about the store, gesturing expressively and smiling nonstop.

"My family has a tradition," she says. "When they come from Puerto Rico, we have a Stein Mart Day. El dia de Stein Mart."

They visit all the Orlando-area stores, she says. By the end of the day, her SUV and their rented minivan are loaded to the roof with purchases.

She eyes the camera, then cracks a brilliant smile: "Stein Mart me fascina. I love it. So what are you waiting for? ¿Que esperas? Go shopping!"

"Cut!" yells Fisher. "That's great."

Then they do it again. And again. And Fuller never stops smiling.

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