If you've watched even five minutes of TV lately, you've probably seen the commercials featuring "Flo the Progressive Girl," the insurance company's perky spokesperson
While the ads might have some diving for the remote, we like that Flo is a throwback to the days of friendly commercial mascots like the Maytag repairman. (Her retro-geek chic style brings back fond memories of Burger King's "Herb the Nerd."
We spoke to actress Stephanie Courtney
about how she came to portray Flo, her own new-found fame, and which bespectacled spokesperson she finds "crushable."
A regular on the Los Angeles improv scene where she's a member of the Groundlings
theater, Stephanie appeared on the first season of "Mad Men
," ("I'm sort of living in the '50s and '60s a little bit," the actress says) and starred in the hilarious Bob Odenkirk–directed film "Melvin Goes to Dinner
She also turned up on the short-lived Geico "Cavemen
" sitcom (but we won't hold that against her).
Stephanie tells us that Flo was created to be a sort of "friendly waitress" face for the Progressive brand. Her background in improv comedy helped her nail the perky, friendly vibe the company was looking for. As for the look, the ad agency wanted a "retro-futuristic 'Jetsons' sort of thing" that helped Stephanie perfect the character. "Once you're in that makeup and outfit, you're sort of there," she says.
While Flo has quite the online fanbase
, Stephanie enjoys her anonymity. The actress says she only gets recognized "maybe once a month or so," adding that it's "always when I'm in no makeup, hair in a ponytail, chasing after my nephew. That's when someone will be like 'Aren't you ...'"
We've often wondered about the white, gleaming world Flo exists in. Where is this magical land where insurance comes in cardboard boxes? And could it actually be in the same world as the Mac and PC
guys? Think about crossover potential. "We could all play poker together in the break room," Stephanie laughed. What does she think about Flo and PC having a little flirtation? "Both [Mac and PC] are extremely crushable." Did someone say spin-off?
Flo fans will want to look for Stephanie in an upcoming episode of "Sons of Tucson
" and in new Progressive ads coming soon. She'll also be appearing in the movie "Fred," playing the "awful mother of a bully." But it's her weekly show at the Groundlings theater that keeps the real-life Flo, well, grounded. "Whatever happens in this crazy business, I get to go there and play with my friends onstage."