Drea Garcia, a member of Hollywood Post 43, will always remember Super Bowl XLVII as a special night. But she didn’t play a down of football, and she isn’t even a Baltimore Ravens fan.
Rather, she’s an actress and veteran, who unexpectedly appeared in Jeep’s ‘Whole Again’ commercial - an ad narrated by Oprah Winfrey and dedicated to troops who are coming home from overseas. Garcia, who appears around the 1:13 mark of the commercial, was among friends and fellow Legionnaires at their post building watching the Super Bowl and engaging in usual big-game festivities when the Jeep commercial aired.
She recognized the backdrop and the camouflaged Jeep vehicle in the ad, and soon realized that it was a commercial she’d previously been featured in. A version of the Jeep commercial had been airing on the East Coast, but no one from Jeep had told her that the commercial would also be featured during the country’s biggest sporting event.
Shock and dismay set in as she realized it was an extended version of her commercial that was playing on the television at Post 43.
“I just saw backs of heads and people in the background, then all of a sudden I saw my face scroll across the screen. I started screaming uncontrollably,” Garcia said.
Garcia, who enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and only left the Reserves in June, had attended an audition last year that specifically asked for actors with military experience. About 4,000 people applied, and Garcia was among the 15 who made the final cut.
Still, she was skeptical that she’d even end up appearing in one of the three Jeep commercials that would air, as it’s common practice in the industry to overshoot and leave footage on the cutting room floor.
She was surprised to see herself in the first two Jeep commercials that ran in different markets. When the “Home Again” ad started playing at halftime and Oprah’s voice echoed from the television, she “froze” as the gravity of the moment dawned on her.
“I didn’t know anything about the Super Bowl,” she said. “So I really wasn’t even watching the game. I really just wanted to see Beyonce perform because I heard about Destiny’s Child coming back.
“I heard Oprah and all the words come across the screen... Then I started noticing certain scenes in the background and I was like, ‘Wow, I shot somewhere just like that.’ Then I realized it was the back of the jeep that I rode in, and I just started screaming.”
It was a significant moment for her in her career, which has included television shows, commercials, theater and improvisational performance at Los Angeles’ Upright Citizens Brigade.
Even before the commercial finished running, she was dialing away on her phone, contacting her husband and dad to revel in the moment.
“Every dad wants their son to be in the NFL and play football,” she said. “This was the closest I was ever going to get to being in the Super Bowl.”