Good friends, good food, good times.
That's the message conveyed in the new American Seafood Celebration television commercial for Red Lobster restaurants. Mouthwatering shots of butter-smothered lobster tails and grilled shrimp are inserted between video of a group of laughing young adults around the restaurant table, obviously enjoying each other's company.
At the heart of that ad -- the focal point of every table shot -- is former Chattanoogan Canedy Knowles.
"It's a national network commercial for Red Lobster on all the major networks and cable. It started running Memorial Day and continues through August," said Ms. Knowles in a telephone interview this week.
"I absolutely recognized her. She's really featured in the ad. She looks natural, and she made me want to go to Red Lobster, it looks like she's having such a good time," said Lindsay Fussell.
Ms. Fussell is a former dance instructor of Ms. Knowles, and the two were cast together in "That Other Woman's Child," co-written by Sherry Landrum and George Clinton.
Ms. Knowles is a graduate of Center for Creative Arts. She has resided in New York City for 18 years pursuing an acting career.
Her television credits range from playing various roles on "Late Night With Conan O'Brian" and "Saturday Night Live" to a featured role in the pilot of "Ugly Betty."
She has been cast in supporting roles in films such as "Enchanted," "The Departed," "Shortcut to Happiness" and "Mona Lisa Smile."
Ms. Knowles said she relies on commercials to make a living and jokes she's been nicknamed "Call-Back Queen" by her commercial agents.
"I audition for commercials every day. It's really my full-time job," she said.
She has pitched products for companies such as Cingular Wireless (in which she was painted and robed to look like the Statue of Liberty), Novartis, AstraZeneca, SyFy Network, Time Warner Cable and Chase Bank.
She currently has a national commercial for Lay's Potato Chips airing, but only her hands and back are shown.
"Red Lobster is definitely one of the most recognizable parts I've had," she said.
Ms. Knowles said it took six hours to shoot the 30-second restaurant ad. It was shot on a soundstage in Greenpoint, the northernmost section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn.
"It's the same studio where they shoot 'The Good Wife,' " Ms. Knowles said. "They built a huge soundstage to look like a Red Lobster restaurant."
With producers, ad agency reps and restaurant officials looking on, her group enjoyed each other's company while pretending to eat lobster and shrimp. The food could not be eaten, she said, because it was treated to keep it looking succulent throughout six hours under the lights.
After the commercial was shot and edited, a focus group of TV viewers had to approve the ad. Then the ad was dependent on a good lobster catch for the season.
Ms. Knowles said actors receive a flat rate for an eight-hour session. Rates are set by the Screen Actors Guild so there is no need to negotiate for a commercial.
"Once it starts airing, I get residuals depending on where it's shown, how much it airs and the time of day it airs. When it's online, that's an additional fee."
View more of Ms. Knowles' work on her website, www.canedyknowles.com.