Over the past decade, perky Progressive Insurance saleswoman Flo has become a television mainstay,
appearing in dozens of commercials.
But while everyone knows Flo, chances are you've never even heard of Stephanie Courtney,
the woman who plays the character.
Let's change that with a look at some things you didn't know about the woman behind Flo.
In a 2016 interview with Lohud, Courtney gave the inside scoop on how she landed the once-in-a-lifetime
role of Flo.
Turns out she had a secret weapon when she went to the audition: her mom, Jane Courtney.
"What they were looking for was basically a friendly neighborhood waitress; she is super
friendly and nice, almost to the point of madness, and I was like, 'I can do that.'
I went straight to my mom and I credit her with Flo's personality.
I said, 'Yes, I can become Jane Courtney!'"
In her original audition, Courtney had just one line, but during her second audition,
the director invited her to play with the role.
As a member of the famous Groundlings improv comedy group, that was all the opening Courtney
Progressive Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Carney told Advertising Age that "Flo was an accident."
The character was just supposed to be a friendly cashier in the superstore, but Courtney brought
the character to life when she ad-libbed the line, "wow, I say it louder."
I say it louder.
Have a great day!”
Company execs realized the concept gave them the chance to "surround Flo with characters
to play off and offered other opportunities to expand Flo's story."
Since that fateful audition, Courtney has continued to be an integral voice in how the
character of Progressive Flo has… progressed.
And all thanks to one little "wow."
It just shows what can happen if you say the right word.
“Me llamo Jaime!”
She helps write the commercials
In 2009, Courtney told Cleveland.com about the backstory she envisioned for Flo, saying,
"When I picture Flo in life she drives her little Mini Cooper around town and it's basically
like when Bob Hoskins drove into Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Basically all the buildings and the birds are singing in her mind."
Courtney explained to Lohud that over the years, she's worked with the writers to shape
the arc of her character.
"The writers are very open to what I think; there may be some improv here now and then,
that is encouraged, by the way.
All of us were working so hard to find out who this person was and what the boundaries
With Flo, she was sort of originally this perfect little Number One employee, but the
power has gotten to her."
Uh oh, sounds like her little sidekick dude, Jamie, might want to sleep with one eye open.
“Jamie, don’t forget to clean the fridge when you’re done.”
“She seems nice.”
“She seems nice…
She’s actually pretty nice.”
She lived in France
When Courtney was just a child, her family spent a year in France.
Though she later forgot how to speak the language, the experience came in handy during her college
years when she spent a semester abroad with a host family in Avignon.
Still, she told The Nerdist's JV Club podcast that the culture shock of returning to France
"I ate, like, olympic amounts of bread and cheese, and then I outgrew all of my clothes
and I remember, I was so sad, like, I really looked like Gerard Depardieu.
I couldn't afford a haircut, like, no makeup, and I'd like mope around France because I
felt so bad about myself."
She's a playwright
Before landing the life-changing role of Flo, Courtney penned a play called Those Courtney
Based on exaggerated versions of herself and her sister, Jennifer, and their lives as broke
actors, Those Courtney Girls ran at the 2000 Aspen Comedy Festival.
Though Courtney says it didn't make a "big splash," it did help her make more contacts
in the comedy business — networking that has clearly paid off.
Way to go, Flo.
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