Casting call draws more than 50 students who aspire to star in university's first-ever TV commercials

University Communications

CU Denver student Natalia Gayou takes direction from filmmaker Shaun Boyte at commercial casting call

By Chris Casey and Megan Morrato | University Communications

DENVER — The director gave a thumbs up and said, “That was awesome!” after snapping several photos of Natalie Gayou, a University of Colorado Denver student.

Gayou smiled and her eyes widened: “Do I get the part?” she asked excitedly.

Gayou was among the more than 50 CU Denver students, as well as a few staff and faculty members, who turned out for a casting call at the band shelter at Tivoli Commons on Wednesday. They may end up appearing in CU Denver’s first-ever TV commercials, which will begin airing this fall.

For the past several months, University Communications has been involved in developing a comprehensive advertising campaign that showcases our high-caliber urban university and the diverse students we serve.

“What we really want to do is put a stake in the ground for CU Denver, and let the world know exactly who we are and what we stand for. And do it in a big, memorable way,” said Jeff Exstrum, brand manager, University Communications. “One way we’ll accomplish this is through TV advertising — a first for CU Denver. It’s a great opportunity, and we’ve been working with some excellent people at Karsh/Hagan and Boyte Creative to make it happen.”:

Scenes from CU Denver commercial casting call:

At the casting call, creative director Shaun Boyte asked each prospective actor to walk a few paces with a backpack and act as though they were chatting with a friend on their cell phone. Boyte’s firm, Boyte Creative, will film the two 30-second TV spots. One will feature an undergraduate student going about his day, and the other will highlight a female graduate student.

Boyte said his crew saw “incredible local talent” turn out, reflecting the vibrancy of the Denver campus. “We’re taking a strong approach on representing who the students are and the go-getter attitude that they have,” he said. “We’ve seen all types of people. We’ve seen young, we’ve seen old, we’ve seen every type of talent.”

“I really want to be in (the commercials),” said Derrick Gallegos, a sophomore studying marketing. “I think it would be fun, and I like to be in front of the camera.”

Friends Kathryn Melkjorgen and Katt Domingue, both sophomores, said they enjoy acting and thought it would be fun to appear in a commercial. Melkjorgen, wearing a CU Denver Lynx shirt, said, “I love our school.”

Domingue, who is minoring in environmental sustainability, said, “I like how we’re more environmentally conscious than a lot of schools.”

Gayou, a Texas native and senior majoring in public health, has been very active at CU Denver, holding leadership positions for the Student Government Association and the mascot committee. She said CU Denver students are strongly focused on their academic goals while juggling many other responsibilities, such as jobs and extra-curricular activities.

“We do come here with purpose, we have goals and we do what we need to do to get there,” Gayou said. “We’re not your typical students. Also, we’re very diverse, and I think we want to show that diversity (in the commercials).”

As for whether they’ll land a part in the TV spots, either as a lead actor or an extra, Gayou and the other students will have to wait a couple weeks to find out.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Sept. 10. Faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited to a campaign “reveal” event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Tivoli Turnhalle.

(Photo at top: CU Denver student Natalia Gayou takes direction from filmmaker Shaun Boyte at a casting call for the university’s first-ever TV commercials.)

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