Cody Connally’s foot is already in the door, so if the 16-year-old Clay High School junior pops up on your television screen or in your favorite magazine, don’t be surprised.
Two years ago Connally showed up for an audition held by the Bold Model & Talent Agency at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Toledo.
More than 2,000 modeling/acting hopefuls showed up, and Bold Model & Talent chose Connally among the top 20 competitors.
“They offered him the opportunity to attend instruction and classes every weekend through the summer until a competition in Florida, where they bring in kids from all over to compete in a national competition,” said Connally’s mother, Stacey McLaughlin. “The objective is to showcase your talent in six different areas. It was a five-day deal. In the end, agents were flown in from L.A. and all over, and those they picked out met with agents.
“He left the competition with an agent and the next week he stayed in New York for the summer to audition and get his feet wet.”
Connally won several awards at the Florida audition: first place in “cold read,” second place in “photography/runway,” first place in “TV commercial,” second place in “situation comedy” and third place in “spokesmodel competition.” He was named honorable mention in the “overall” category.
Connally, then 14, left Florida having signed with agent Shirley Grant, of the Shirley Grant Agency, which is based in New York. The next week he moved to New York for the summer to audition and learn the tricks of the trade in the entertainment business. “That was really awesome,” Connally said. “I got to basically see and do things I’ve never experienced before. I loved being in the city. I was away from home for a long time, for a couple months. Every day my agent would call and send me to auditions and tell me what to go to during the day.”
Connally, who is 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes, was soon placed in a TV commercial for College Sports TV (CSTV).
“It was real cool because we got to go to Rutgers (University) Stadium,” he recalled. “We all stood in a line - four or five people - and you had to say your phrase. Mine was for the Auburn Tigers. I said, ‘Go War Eagles, win the fight,’ or something like that. Everyone else was a grown-up. I was the only kid there. I felt real comfortable. It wasn’t a long commercial, but it took a long time to shoot. We got there at noon at didn’t leave until midnight.”
The commercial aired nationally in July 2007 on CSTV.
“I didn’t really care much about the money,” said Connally, who plays football at Clay. “That was never my concern. I just loved doing it. My mom and dad (Tim McLaughlin) are behind me 100 percent.”
Connally said it was kind of surreal to see himself in a TV commercial.
“It was weird,” he said. “I was like, whoa! The commercial was about 45 seconds and I was on maybe 10 seconds.”
Connally continues to audition for other roles, mostly sending videos by mail or over the Internet so that he doesn’t miss school.
“I’ve auditioned for so many things,” he said. “Sprint and T-mobile commercials, Kmart commercials ... I was in the learning process while going to these auditions. It took some learning. I’ve auditioned for educational videos as well as ‘Paranoid Park,’ ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who.’
“Modeling is different. They (agents) send out a card, called a comp card. It has your picture, your height - everything down to your waist size and hair color - and they send them out to many different places and you might get selected. They’ll call your agent back. Levi’s called for me.
“Sometimes if you don’t get a part in an audition or a shot in a magazine, it’s not necessarily that they don’t like you. It’s just that you don’t fit what they’re looking for. This summer I’m hoping to go back to New York.”
Connally added that giving it a shot in the entertainment industry is fun and exciting, but he’s not ready to trade in his youth just to get a TV or modeling gig.
“I would love a career in the entertainment business, but it’s always iffy,” he said. “You always need a backup plan. I’m still very focused in school. I want to get confident enough. I started in the business early but I want to do normal kid stuff, like sports. I love being on the football team.
“I hope to gain something out of this. It’s one of those opportunities that don’t come along every day.”
“It was weird,” Clay High School student Cody Connally said about seeing himself in a TV commercial for College Sports TV (CSTV). He continues to audition for other roles.