Portland Actor Jason Rouse Shot a National TV Ad While in Quarantine

“It was like being under surveillance in my apartment for five hours.”

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Portland actor and writer Jason Rouse is making the most of quarantine.

He shot a national commercial on his iPhone. To get the gig, he had to audition online, take video of his whole apartment, and send in pictures of most of his shirts. Then, the agency shipped him two crates of gear and props. He dragooned his wife as the crew.

The spot, for an eBay-like company called Mercari, was harder than all the other ads he's done, with the client, the agency and the director all weighing in remotely.

"I've done quite a few commercials in my life, and this was the strangest," Rouse says. "It was like being under surveillance in my apartment for five hours. But, at the end of it, there was a pretty decent commercial. It's out. We saw it."

Before that, Rouse may have even gotten COVID-19 out of the way. He developed symptoms in March that matched those of his brother, a crewman on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that pulled into Guam with 1,000 sick sailors in late March. They compared notes. It felt like when Rouse had mononucleosis as a kid.

He moved, too, setting up a new place April 1.

"It's an OK quarantine," Rouse says. "I can't complain. Obviously, outside the apartment, everything is dismal and upsetting, but inside we could be doing a lot worse."

Best of all, maybe, he managed to do a Costco run in 23 minutes, in and out—a trip that would probably earn him King of the Mountain had he recorded it on Strava.

What's sustaining him? His work for an organization called PHAME, where he is a teacher. PHAME is an arts academy serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Rouse says it's the best job he's ever had.

Related: A Portland Arts School for Adults With Disabilities Could Have Shut Down. Instead, It Expanded Its Reach.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.

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