Last week, we shared an exclusive sneak peek at the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® television commercial. I’ve been thrilled to see so much great feedback about it on social media, and one of the comments I’ve seen repeatedly is, “That’s how I felt!” So many of our walkers feel personally connected to the story that was told in only 60 seconds.
If the commercial’s story feels authentic, that’s because it is. The star of the 2014 Komen 3-Day commercial is Becky G., a real 3-Day walker who participated for the first time last summer in Boston. I had the pleasure of talking with Becky recently and learning more about how she became the face of the 3-Day commercial.
Becky and her favorite co-star
Erin: How did you first get involved with the 3-Day?
Becky: I lost my mom to breast cancer 12 years ago. I never did any sort of breast cancer events or fundraisers, for fear of having to deal with her death. Then in 2012, my friend Adrienne [who is also in the commercial] did the 3-Day and told me, “You need to do this next year.” I told her I wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with the emotion of it, but she really inspired me.
Erin: The 3-Day can be scary in a lot of ways, including dealing with those strong and sometimes painful emotions. But one thing I’ve always loved about it is that it’s such a safe place to experience that range of feelings.
Becky: Yes, exactly. Aside from having my daughter, the 3-Day was one of the best times of my life. Completely life changing. And what I love about the commercial is that it really shows that it’s hard work, it’s a commitment that you’re making. When I walked in Boston, on Day 2 I remember thinking, I don’t know if my body can take another step. We were just about to go through a cheering station, I was hobbling through. And the thought in my head was, “This is so hard, but at least I can see the end of this pain.” For my mom, her end was the end. That kept me going. The pain I was having in my knee was nothing compared to what she went through for years, especially right before her death. That was inspiring to me. And to then go into a cheering station and feel all of that support was so amazing.
Erin: What was the audition process like?
Becky: I did my audition over Skype. It was a total disaster! [Laughs] My computer completely crashed right at my interview time, then something happened with the computer on their end too. We only had 10 minutes for the audition, and we used 5 just trying to get online! When we finally connected, they asked me, why do you walk? What would you tell people? I figured the commercial was just going to show different people talking to the camera about their own experiences.
Erin: So you thought it would be you and some other people, each sharing a few seconds of your personal experiences. Similar to some of our other 3-Day videos.
Becky: Yes, that’s what I assumed. But then they asked me to read a line of script, and I thought, I’m not an actor! The line was, “This is where I want to quit.” It was so hard for me to read the words because I would never quit. Reading that line out of context from the whole commercial was hard. But now I understand it, and it was exactly what I had felt. And then that was it! I didn’t hear anything for a while, but then I got an email saying I’d gotten the lead.
Erin: At what point did you get the whole script for the commercial?
Becky: After they booked my ticket to Atlanta! They knew I had a daughter, and they asked if she could be in the commercial too, so I had some idea [of what I would be doing], but not the extent that they had storyboarded. If I had known that I would really be starring, that it would be so much me, I never would’ve sent my application in the first place. I would’ve been too afraid.
Erin: Sounds like the 3-Day! You sign up, not really knowing what you’re in for.
Becky: Yes! Knowing what I know now, I would’ve been so sad for myself if I didn’t jump at the opportunity. When I saw [what the commercial was going to be], the fear went away. The story of the commercial is my story. I was terrified to do the 3-Day, and that fear held me back. But when I pushed past the fear, that’s what woke me up. I think of all the amazing people who are now a huge part of my life, who I wouldn’t have met. If I had let that fear rule my life, I would’ve missed it.
Erin: Did you have any hesitations about being on a national TV commercial?
Becky: Once they cast me, I was committed to it and I was all in. The big fear for me was [recording the voiceovers in] the recording studio. I am not an actor! They wanted me to read these lines, and I thought, “What if I can’t do it?” But it was with the most amazing team of people. They held me so tight and walked me through the process step by step. They knew when they could push me and when they couldn’t. They were so sensitive. It’s never been like me to feel that confident with what the world was throwing at me. But with this, I felt so confident.
Erin: Describe the experience of shooting the commercial.
Becky: It was all so great! I had no idea what to expect. When you turn on your TV, you just see the finished product, so smooth and glamorous, and that wasn’t the case [laughs]. One morning, we were up at 5 or 5:30 and it was freezing cold. They were getting a shot of me tying my shoe 100 times.
Erin: The opening shot of the commercial!
Becky: Yeah, and it was so cold, and after so many takes, I forgot how to tie my shoe! But then I remembered that there were women and men at that very moment who were getting up to walk, doing the same thing.
Erin: Wow, yeah. The Atlanta walkers would’ve just been starting Day 2, right?
Becky: Right. But it was all so great. I was surrounded by real people, and they took such good care of me. There were a few times that I felt like they were treating me too well almost! Everyone working on the shoot just knew that there was something big happening.
Erin: Was the experience what you expected?
Becky: No, not at all. [Shooting the commercial] doesn’t top the 3-Day, though I kind of lump it all in together. I don’t think anything could top the 3-Day. My best life moments have been my daughter’s birth, the 3-Day, and this. Discovering more about myself, and continuing on this path of service—it’s been amazing.
Erin: What are you hoping people take away most from the ads?
Becky: I hope that a million people sign up to walk! I really do believe that the more walkers we have, the more funds are going to come in, and the better chance there is that I’m not going to leave my daughter without a mother. I want walkers, because it means funds. But it also means of those millions of people, they’re going to experience a life changing event, and what that might bring to them personally, but also as a whole, making the world a better place. Looking at the big picture, what can we do to help? Since I did the 3-Day, my life has changed. I’m focusing on what’s important.
Adrienne, Saralyn, and Becky are the three of the real walkers who brought the 3-Day commercial to life
Thank you, Becky, for sharing your story, and for so perfectly representing the personal journey that so many walkers experience over those 60 miles. I think it’s difficult to capture what it’s like to do the 3-Day, but this commercial comes pretty close. You can see the full 2-minute version of the TV commercial on the 3-Day website (The3Day.org/videos). Becky is registered to walk again in Philadelphia, and you can walk with her there, or in one of our other 3-Day locations in 2014.