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BU Grad Hopes for Walk-on in Hit AMC Show

Photo contest could land alum speaking role on Mad Men

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Photo by Dan Cutrona

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Jesse Tyber White is hoping it’s worth something more: specifically, a walk-on role on AMC’s hit drama Mad Men.

An aspiring actor, White (SAR’10) became a fan of the show last season. “I was very impressed with how authentic it felt. They do a great job reproducing the era,” he says, “and its suave lifestyle makes you want to live as an advertising man during the ’60s.” He read about Mad Men’s casting call photo contest, sponsored by Banana Republic, on AMC’s website and decided to enter.

Contestants submit a photo of themselves in their best Mad Men style, and the public votes to choose the top-10 male and top-10 female photos. Show executive producer and creator Mathew Weiner will then select one male and one female photo for the grand prize: a speaking role in a future episode. “Selection is based 60 percent on quality and similarity of the photo to Mad Men style and 40 percent on originality,” White says. “The show involves advertising, work offices, bars, sex, and smoking, and it’s all set during the 1960s, so I wanted to involve as much of these aspects as possible.”

White spent two weeks preparing for his photo shoot. “A lot of the other entries are head shots and posed photos,” he says, “but I wanted mine to feel like we had captured an actual moment.” The result: a pensive White lounging in a dimly lit restaurant booth, a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Seen through the window, a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado is parked outside. A closer look shows White’s meticulous attention to detail. “My first goal was to re-create the 1960s feel,” he says. “Our set included high wingback chairs, a 1959 Time magazine, an old Bridget Bardot picture on the wall, a Lucky Strike cigarette pack, a 1960s marble-top table, and a ’60s-style suit and shoes.”

Equally important to White was the location. “Bleu Restaurant, in the Mashpee Commons on Cape Cod, was the last place I scouted, and it ended up being our location. When we walked into the bar, we knew instantly that we had found our spot,” he says. He persuaded professional Cape Cod photographer Dan Cutrona to shoot the photo for free.

The newly minted BU alum says he’s pleased with the results. “I scouted locations, organized assistants, gathered props, and convinced a big-time Cape Cod photographer to work the project for free,” he says. “It was a big operation.”

But the pay-off, he feels, will be worth the effort.

Voting for the Banana Republic’s Mad Men casting call contest runs through September 6. See official contest rules here. View and vote for Jesse White’s entry here. Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

Dan Mercurio can be reached at dmerc@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on BU Grad Hopes for Walk-on in Hit AMC Show

  • Martha on 08.10.2010 at 8:50 pm

    Nice Job

    Nice job of capturing the Mad Men feel.

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