As someone who has played a number of Italian roles, Alex Corrado has drawn on his experiences growing up in Hoboken to inform his work. He recently applied his creative skills to a winning commercial in which he stars as an opera singer.
Corrado won a contest to create a national 30-second commercial for Sheets energy strips. A platform for national exposure, the commercial will air at the end of April during the NBA playoffs and in movie theaters. The NBA player LeBron James served as one of the judges.
Coming up with ideas
Corrado came up with the idea to go through the day in the life of an opera singer after hearing about the contest opportunity while out to dinner in New York City. The commercial includes scenes of Alex as the opera singer waking up, singing in the shower, about to take the stage, and finally on stage. Before each moment, the actor ‘takes a sheet.’
“I love Pavarotti…I have seen him [perform] many times,” said Corrado about the late famous Italian opera singer. “I could belt out a tune.” He said he tied a handkerchief around his finger in the commercial just like Luciano Pavoratti used to do.
In addition to Pavarotti, Corrado modeled his role in the commercial after the character Enrico Pallazo from the 1988 comedy “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad,” which stars Leslie Nielsen, who tries to uncover a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II. Nielsen’s character ends up knocking out Pallazo before he is due to sing the national anthem at a baseball game.
“He is a memorable character. He has the typical attitude of an opera singer,” said Corrado regarding Pallazo.
Corrado brought on his friend Khoa D. Le from KVibe Productions in Jersey City to produce the spot. With a four-person crew, no budget and very little time the group finalized the commercial in less than 24 hours.
They filmed most of the scenes in Corrado’s home with the exception of the final shot on stage, which was filmed at a school in Rutherford, the town where Corrado lives.
Building social media buzz
“People see me on the street and know me,” said Corrado. “That is the power of the new media.” After shooting the commercial, Corrado had to upload it to Facebook and get people to “like” it. He said that he had never been a member of the social media site prior to entering the contest but he managed to get many friends in his network to support his commercial.
“I just started calling all my family and friends,” said Corrado.
Corrado said that he also had to get people to view it on the video channel YouTube once his spot was chosen as a finalist. On Feb. 26 the winner was announced on Facebook. Corrado said that shortly thereafter he received a call from company executives, which was then followed by a visit to their offices for photos with a trophy.
Discovering acting after starting off in medicine
Corrado is no stranger to acting, having appeared in a number of roles in film and on television but he hasn’t always been on the path to performance. He was born in Jersey City and grew up in Hoboken. Corrado studied pre-medicine at New York University then went on to study medicine in Italy. He was practicing medicine in New Jersey when he was approached randomly on the street in 1998 and asked if he wanted to be in the movie “Analyze This” with Robert DeNiro.
“I was supposed to play his bodyguard,” said Corrado who didn’t get the part after DeNiro had a closer look at him. ‘Bobby thinks you are too tall,’ Corrada, who is six foot four, said he was told. But the possibility only sparked his interest further.
Later that summer Corrado starred in and helped produce a play about brothers in a crime family, “Larger than Life,” which debuted at the Producer’s Club on West 44th Street.
“I drew from characters that I knew in my life,” said Corrado. He said that at the play reflected the demise of the five major crime families in New York. Corrado has reworked the play and is currently trying to make it into a feature film.
“In the end it was a big hit,” said Corrado who ended up with an agent at the time and has had a string of success since December 1998. He has played an Italian mobster that gets eaten by Hannibal Lecter in the film “Hannibal,” and also plays a Mafioso in the movie “Dinner Rush.” His credits also include roles on television in “Sex and the City” and “The Restaurant.”
In addition to acting Corrado has experience as a producer and director. He recently directed a short film, “Hero,” that won for best directorial debut of a short film at the 2011 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
“I drew from characters that I knew in my life.” – Alex Corrado
The former doctor does not have formal training in acting but he grew up in a household surrounded by music and film. He developed a love of both from his parents who were avid opera and movie buffs.
“My parents loved the classics. We were raised on theater and opera,” said Corrado. His late father taught locally for 47 years and directed high school plays. Corrado was brought up watching films like “Wuthering Heights,” “Casablanca,” and “Gone with the Wind.”
“I was always a character and always performed for my family,” said Corrado. Even though he never pursued acting as a child he didn’t stray too far from his passion and took screenwriting classes during his years as a physician.
On the horizon
After his success with the commercial, Corrado was approached to star in his own show based on his trials and tribulations as an actor. He is in the process of filming a pilot for the show, “La Vita Impazzita” (My Crazy Life) that portrays the challenges of acting in a world where reality shows have changed the industry dynamic.
“It is not all a bed of roses,” said Corrado. He said that he has many stories that make for good fodder and he expects will make for good TV.
Adriana Rambay Fernández can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.