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Erica Shaffer One of The Most Recognized Faces on TV Today

by Kaya Morgan

To say that we have all seen Erica Shaffer on TV might be an understatement. She just may be one of the most recognized faces on television today, estimating that at any given time, Erica may be seen in as many as 10 commercials airing simultaneously.  With all this exposure, Erica Shaffer is still not a household name.  So, what will it take?

Finally, we can fix a name with the face of the actress touted in the industry as, “that woman in every damn commercial” simply because of her unmistakable, mass consumer appeal.  When everybody knows your face but not your name can be challenging for an actress.  Erica has earned the coveted reputation of being the most familiar and friendly face on television mostly for her work in over 200 commercials and infomercials. She is seen by a wide variety of viewers in as many time slots.  Yet, her recognition with consumers doesn’t stop there – far from it. As the most sought-after spokeswoman on TV today, her story gives a rare glimpse into what it takes to get steady work in Hollywood.

The public likes to believe that a star in a new hit series was an overnight success.  Although there have been some success stories of that nature, reality is farther from the truth for most actors.  Many of us are under the illusion that show business is an ultra-glamorous life, but Erica — like most actors — has a grueling daily schedule.  The majority of her time, “every hour God sends,” is spent in auditions to get work; or, in fittings for upcoming work; and, then the time “in heaven” is performing her part.

Growing up in San Diego was a great advantage for Erica, as Tinseltown was just a few hours up the road, making it easy to pack and head back home if things didn’t turn out as she’d planned.

The story of most actors is as individual as can be, yet there is a basic theme that runs through it.  Erica’s story is similar to those living on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas.  She fondly recalls that rural San Diego was a quiet place to live, as close to nature as you could get.  An only child, she raised rabbits and burros with her extended family of friends her own age at the local 4H Club.  “The wild burro program of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) allowed the adoption of a burro that turned out to be great at grazing through the neighborhood keeping the tall grass down.”

Growing up in a creative household was also an advantage.  With mom an elementary, and dad a secondary school teacher, summers became one long, fun-filled adventure of roving ‘round the Southwest and Rocky Mountains. “Usually, off the beaten path, somewhere in the mountains, our modest camper was pulled up alongside a river or stream.  Dad could always find a way to befriend the local forest rangers learning about the best, secret places to make camp. A special focus was always on finding and studying Native American culture, dad’s family background,” she muses.

By age six, Erica had enrolled in her first ballet class and was smitten with dance and performing.  Her natural talent kept her in the limelight, as she earned starring roles with the California Ballet Company, New West Ballet Theatre, and North Coast Ballet in San Diego. This made it relatively easy to be accepted on a scholarship by the highly-rated United States International University, School of the Performing Arts in San Diego where she received a BFA in Acting.  Then, through a scholarship at the University of Arizona, Erica earned a MFA in Acting where she also taught voice and movement as part of their graduate program.

Erica had roles in so many musicals after graduation that she was hired to become part of a well-known performing ensemble on a cruise line and spent the next two years traveling the globe — making new friends while performing to an international audience.  The natural progression drew her to Hollywood to make her next mark.  However, the famed movie town was not as welcoming as she might have once thought.  Competition was fierce, and it was hard finding a good agent who was willing to accept a new up-and-coming starlet. 

“Breaking into the business was certainly no picnic and I recall it as one of my most challenging times.  You had to submit yourself to every agent in Hollywood, multiple times; find a manager, get the newagent, join the union, show up at every audition for a part you might qualify for, which could mean running to several auditions a day.”

“Every actor has inspirations,” Erica goes on to say, “I’ve always admired Rachael Ward and Meryl Streep. I also had the incredibly good fortune to be in scenes with Josh Duhamel and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  To make those moments really work, big star or not, we were all actors sharing a scene to make it the best for all.” 

Luckily, over time Erica Shaffer has made some very good choices.  She has had roles in ballet, music videos, theatre, film, voice-overs and more commercials than most actors — yes, over 200 including everything from WD-40 and Miracle Grow, to Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Chase, and even infomercials such as Time Life, Bow Flex, and Nutrisystem.  Erica’s off-camera, voice-over work includes countless radio commercials, animated films, and even documentaries for The Learning Channel and The History Channel.  Hosting her own shows on The Travel Channel and the Access Entertainment Network adds to her impressive list of accomplishments.

Erica has had roles in 15 feature films, with starring and recurring guest roles in prime time TV shows like Dexter, New Adventures of Old Christine, Private Practice, Days of our Lives, Las Vegas, Charmed, The King of Queens, Ghost Whisperer, My Boys, Men of a Certain Age, and The Young and the Restless, to mention just a few. With such an extraordinary list of credits, Erica will not retain her anonymity for long.  This informercial queen was nominated at the 2011Moxie Awards as the Best Female Presenter.  Watch for the most well seen, hardest working Hollywood face — Erica Shaffer — to pop up on the next top TV sitcom “as the latest overnight success.” 

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