Dominique Bela knew at 16 years old how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. It was after she was cast in the school play of Hamlet, and the moment she stepped on stage to perform, she knew she was destined to be an actress. It was cathartic, exhilarating, and terrifying all at the same time in a terrific way and acting immediately felt like home to the New Zealand native.
“I’m a real dreamer and I always follow my heart. Everyone tells you to be sensible, they just want to protect you, but sense didn’t matter to me. I hated the idea of a desk job or knowing what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life or having things figured out. I love not knowing what might happen next week or next year,” she says. “I love jumping into someone else’s world and then going back to my own. I love the research and learning new skills for each new role. I have so many hobbies and acting requires you to keep learning new skills. I love that it’s hard. Getting paid to play make believe – is that not the best job ever?”
That high school play feels like a lifetime ago for Bela, who is no longer on school stages but rather in front of cameras on large production sets as a celebrated actress in both her home country and abroad. She has starred in films, such as the compelling drama Contrary, worked with major networks on hit shows like AMC’s The Making of the Mob, and collaborated with major brands on national commercial campaigns, including Blue Moon Beer, Credit Karma, and many more.
Bela now spends her time in Toronto, soaring to the top of Canada’s entertainment industry. One of her first experiences working in Canada was a highlight for the actress, on a commercial for the Ninja Foodi by SharkNinja, a revolutionary cooking appliance that is both a pressure cooker and an air fryer, two of the hottest cooking trends right now.
“SharkNinja is a very respectable cooking appliance company so that immediately piqued my interest. Literally everyone has heard of it or owns a product by SharkNinja. Being the face of a new product they’re launching is really cool. The Ninja Foodi is a pressure cooker and air fryer in one which helps people downsize, needing less appliances. Personally, I love to live minimally so I’m all about efficient multifunctional products. It was my second job after arriving in Toronto, which was pretty special as it was my first commercial there,” says Bela.
As the hero of the commercial, Bela is in almost every shot. Audiences can see her working around the kitchen, cooking and playing with her son. It was a large-scale, multi day shoot for Bela, and she had to consistently deliver a great performance, as there is a time constraint when working with child actors as they can get bored easily. Although she is not a mom herself, Bela channeled that energy needed to connect with the target market of the commercial.
“Nowadays, we want relatable women and moms on screen. You don’t want to guilt trip or make someone feel less. You also need to stay upbeat and positive so it’s mixing ‘isn’t motherhood wonderful’ with ‘I feel you, I see you, here’s something to make it easier’. There’s this one moment where my son is banging on the pots and I give him a cheeky look, and that’s what it’s all about. Less work, more time for fun,” Bela describes.
Bela’s first focus on the commercial was building a connection with the actor playing her son. It was hard to build that trust in only two days, but she knew it was important to bring an authentic energy to the set, which would ultimately sell the product.
It was also her first time working on a commercial with food. There was a commercial cooking van that had three people working in it who were preparing all of the shooting food. They would make multiple versions of each item so they could be swapped when they started looking old and unappetizing. One person would be on set constantly basting and dressing the food while the other two would be cooking.
“It’s a real art and I had no idea how much goes into it. The amount of work that goes into lighting food perfectly is equally comical and impressive,” says Bela.
The commercial appeared on major national television networks across the country at the end of 2018 and recently received it’s second extension run due to its success in selling the Ninja Foodi, which Bela played a major part of, and it is still running today. She knows that when making a commercial you are, of course, selling a product, but you are also telling a story.
“I like that it was a lighthearted but realistic commercial. What is important as a parent when it comes to cooking? Making yummy, healthy food is important, but also spending less time in the kitchen and more time having fun with your kids. I’m fortunate to work for a credible company whose product I can actually stand behind, something that actually saves busy people time, money and energy. This ad isn’t a hard sell, it cleanly presents you with its concept,” she concludes.
Watch Bela in the Ninja Foodi commercial here.