UT Arlington student Alfred Ramirez isn’t a hamster enthusiast, but he plays one on TV.
Ramirez was recently cast in a Western Union television commercial, portraying a hamster owner who spends his afternoons watching his pet run through an elaborate set of tubes. The TV spot is one of several the company is running this holiday season.
The film studies major said he spent a few hours online the night before his call-back audition doing research for the role.
“I wanted to get an idea of what kind of person would buy $1,500 of hamster tubes,” Ramirez said. “The people I found aren’t weird people, they’re everyday enthusiasts.”
It may have been this Texas native’s attention to detail that landed him the gig. But Ramirez is quick to point out how the professors and classes in the Department of Art and Art History prepared him for a career in acting and modeling.
“The film program has thoroughly prepared me for the casting process,” Ramirez said. “They teach you how to act on a set, in the casting room and how to direct. … Being in the program, you get a sense of what it takes to be in front of and behind the camera.”
Ramirez set out to be an actor in 2007 after encouragement from family and friends and a brief stay in Los Angeles. He initially enrolled at the University of North Texas, but growing buzz about the quality of the film studies program at UT Arlington drew him south.
“I came to UTA because I heard it was the best film program in the state,” he said. “[The program] helped me realize I would be a better writer and producer. And it’s been outstanding to me to get my foot in the door.”
Ramirez, who is on track to graduate in 2011, said he will continue to look for commercial work in North Texas as he builds his portfolio. To date, he has also appeared in a TV commercial for the Texas Lottery, as well as print ads for Radio Shack and AT&T. Ultimately, he hopes to fashion an acting and screenwriting career.
The Western Union commercials, including “Habitrail” that features Ramirez, can be seen online at the company’s YouTube channel or at www.50daysofgiving.com. The spots will air on national cable channels like CNN, MSNBC, USA, TNT and TBS throughout the month.