Kaleb Hickerson, an eighth-grader at East Middle School, recently debuted in a national TV ad for Applebee’s Restaurant that is scheduled to run for at least the next two weeks.
He said he submitted a short video using the “Vine” app on his cell phone to enter a “BeeFamous” contest for a chance to win an appearance in an ad promoting Applebee’s “Under 550 Calories” menu.
Contestants were instructed to record their most “unbelievable” six-second reaction to the low-calorie items, and Kaleb said he was pleasantly surprised to have become a winner.
“I submitted my video in December and then a couple of weeks later they emailed me and said they might be intersted in using it,” Kaleb said.
“Then they sent me some forms to sign, and then a few weeks after that, they emailed and said they were definitely going to use mine.”
The 15-second spot has already started airing on CBS, ABC, and ESPN, among others, and Kaleb said his sister saw it on TV Tuesday night.
Kaleb’s “reaction” appears briefly in the ad, sandwiched between images of the juicy, fire-grilled Roma Pepper Steak on the Applebee’s “Under 550” menu.
According to his mother, Meredith Hickerson, one of the forms he had to sign was a W-4, since the youngster was promised he will be receiving checks for his appearances.
“We don’t know how much it’s going to be yet,” Mrs. Hickerson said, “but we’ll be interested to find out.”
Kaleb said he has never been interested in school plays, but does hope to pursue screen acting when he grows up.
“I took him to an acting school in Brentwood a while back but we couldn’t afford to continue,” Mrs. Hickerson said. “Maybe after this, we can try again.”
Kaleb is currently a percussionist in the East Middle School band and said he hopes to play in high school, too. He also plays baseball during the warmer months.
In addition to watching the Disney channel on TV and videos on Youtube, his mom said he likes to watch the news stations.
“He’s good on the computer and he loves to get on the Internet,” she said, “and he loves the news.”