As a journalist, for the last 25 years I’ve made a living telling other people’s stories on TV, radio or in print. Now, for the first time ever, I’m telling my story.
Well, really, “our” story. 

As I type, we’re flying back to Cleveland after shooting a commercial for Ancestry.com.
Still can’t believe it was real.
Now dying to know how our commercial will turn out, and if it will ever make it to the small screen. They shot commercials featuring seven real stories:

  • A descendent of George Washington.
  • A descendent of someone who came over on the Mayflower.
  • A descendent of Pocahontas.
  • A descendent of Christopher Columbus.
  • Two life-long friends, descended from the Salem witches and the Knights Templar, who learned through Ancestry.com DNA they're also cousins.
  • And us. 

We're told the spots should air in 2016.

The whole adventure started around October 1, 2015

I received an email from Ancestry.com about a contest they were holding to find the “stars” for its next set of TV ads.
They asked Ancestry users to submit a short cell phone video telling their Ancestry or Ancestry DNA story.


Just FYI, Ancestry.com is a website that helps you discover your family tree. It helps you uncover records and photos, then map out and put on record who your ancestors are as far as written records will go.
And, now, thanks to DNA testing, it will also let you know where your ancestors lived before records were kept. Back hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

I saw the email and grabbed my iPhone.
I made a less than two minute video telling one of the most interesting stories I’d uncovered in our family tree this year. 
Won't reveal it here because hopefully you'll see it in our commercial.
But let me just say, the best thing about DNA is... it doesn’t fib.
Our ancestors, just like us, fibbed. A lot. 
It was probably just to survive. So, I get it. But one of the best things about our current age of “reality TV” is that we have become much more accepting of our warts and all.

In the 1920s, '30s, '40s, '50s and early '60s, movie stars were "perfect." And so, everyone else in America was expected to be likewise.
Fast forward to 2015, and the more flawed you are-- the more endearing you are.
We love the fallen. We want to redeem them. They make us feel better about ourselves. 
Heck, they make our tattered lives look perfect and glamorous!
But, they also help us understand that behind that perfect body, that perfect face, that multi-billion dollar bank account, they’re all still just like us.
Imperfect. 
We all want to be liked and loved. We all want what’s best for our family and children.
And when we fight like cats and dogs, we’re so happy when we make up a week later.

That’s why I’m fascinated with Ancestry.com.
It tells history, but in a human way. In a relatable way. In a family way. We all have a story. And it’s crazy. I promise you.
And you deserve to know YOUR story.

As I’ve discovered my roots over the past few year I’ve found myself struggling to read record after record through tear-filled eyes.



How the hell didn’t I know my Dad’s ancestors were patriots and fought in the Revolutionary War? And the Civil War? And then WWI? And WWII?
How didn’t I know my 5x great-grandfather came to the colonies as an indentured servant from France? And my 5x great grandmother an indentured servant from Scotland?

Now thanks to Ancestry DNA I am linked through science to those ancestors. Their DNA is in my DNA. There's no denying it. I'm their descendant. They are my ancestors.

So, how did it come to be that my husband and I starred in the Ancestry.com commercial? 
Here's a timeline of what happened after I submitted my video entry:

1. We first received an email from casting on Oct. 7.
2. We Skyped with the casting director on Oct. 8.
3. Also on Oct. 8 we received an email from the Executive Producer of the production company for the commercial.  

·  "Thank you for allowing my casting team to Skype with you today. You & your husband's story is very interesting.  :)

You both are being considered for our commercial project. With your permission we would like to get information from you and have you & your husband sign some paper work.  If you are chosen as a final talent for our Ancestry.com project, having these things done well in advance, will enable us to move faster through the process."    

They then asked us to sign release forms, submit to a background check, and asked for basic info to make the plane reservations.

On Oct. 15 we received another email from casting:

"Thank you for being great!  You are all still in the running for the Ancestry.com commercial.
Just wanted to touch base and let you know that you are still among the favorites and we will need to go over some logistics to make sure you are available and comfortable with everything.
TRAVEL DATES we would need your availability for...
Travel from Home to LA - 10/24 &/or 10/25. Wardrobe fitting  - 10/26 &/or 10/27. Shoot dates - 10/27th or 10/28th. Travel From LA to Home -10/28 &/or 10/29.
If you are still interested and available for all dates, and are okay with the terms.  Please confirm with us as soon as possible. 

·      Email from Executive Producer on Oct. 16 
"What is your closest airport?  Still making decisions regarding final cast, I’ll keep you posted.  Thank you."

Then on Oct. 19, 2015, at 4:30 p.m. ET we got THE CALL.
We got it! We got the call from casting telling us we’d been chosen.
She got our basic info so they could order our flight tickets and she said the director would follow up.

On Friday, Oct. 20 we Skyped with the director. Unfortunately, we had a bad connection, so he could see us, but we couldn't see him. We just talked about our Ancestry.com experience, what we've learned about our family tree, and he told us a bit about himself and the work he's produced.

On Sunday, Oct. 25 we boarded the United flight from Cleveland to LA.
When we landed we taxied to our hotel, The Wyndham Santa Monica at the Pier. 

I'll give you the details of our whirl-wind three days in LA in my next blog posting.
But let me assure you, it was an awesome experience!