VELEKA GRAY'S LETTER TO BOB WALKER AND THE NEW ORLEANS RADIO AND TV SHRINE
I was modeling for Star Studios when I got a call to audition for WDSU-TV for some network promos. I was happy to be in the studio since it had been my first TV studio. I was on Miss Muffin's show when I was five. And I was delighted when I was the one cast to do the spots.
The man who introduced himself as my director was incredibly handsome. He looked just like Burt Lancaster to me. But I soon forgot to feel shy about his looks when he showed me he was a consummate professional and was able to support me to being the same. The difficulty we had was the copy was twice as long as the time we needed to get it in for. A 10 second commercial was 20 seconds worth of words. So the director had me talking a blue streak to get all the words in for each spot. This was not that hard for me to do since I'd grown up in a house with five other women (mother, grandmother, and three sisters) where you had to talk fast to get a word in edgewise. But I think I impressed this director because we got in about 50 commercials that first day, and he invited me back to do some more. I'm not kidding when I say that we did at least 100 commercials, all told, and maybe 150. It was a LOT!
When I moved to the Big Time (New York and L.A.) a few years later and people asked me to modify commercial copy by means of my delivery (usually to speed it up), I would think of that handsome guy in New Orleans and smile to myself at how well he had trained me to be a better actress. And with every residual I would be reminded of my roots in the biz and know to be grateful to one who had been so kind and helped me so much on my way.
His name? You've already figured it out when I said "handsome." He still is... Mr. Paul Yacich.
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