From water polo athlete and model in her teens to a stand-up comic, and now an internationally sought-after actress, Dominique Bela is no stranger to performing for a crowd. She uses her athletic ability, camera sense, and comedic talent honed from her previous roles and funnels that into her acting, creating a dynamic presence on film.
“I used to play water polo for New Zealand, which was a very cool experience, but ultimately wanted to be an actor more than being in a pool 30 hours a week. I’ve performed stand-up in two New Zealand Comedy Festivals and being in the comedy scene I saw how many opportunities there are around the world to work in the arts. I was also a fashion model from age 14-21, and that provided me with unique life experiences and perspectives,” said Bela.
As an actress, Bela is continuously given the opportunity to collaborate with other talented individuals, which is her favorite part of her job. It’s exciting for the New Zealand native to work with a team of individuals to make something that only exists on paper turn into a stunning cinematic masterpiece, as is the case with her new film Contrary, the television series The Making of the Mob, and so many more.
“Sometimes you shoot for a day or two and it’s this wild ride and other times you’re collaborating for months or even years and you build a kind of family. Actors are like the tip of the iceberg that everyone sees and then there’s this mass of people you can see in the credits who make it all happen,” she said.
Bela has been working in Toronto for a couple of years now, emerging as a leader in the Canadian entertainment industry, as well as booking many national commercials throughout the country. When shooting last year’s commercial for Credit Karma, Bela flew to Vancouver for the shoot, and calls the experience one of the highlights of her career.
Credit Karma is a multinational personal finance company that provides free services to its consumers. Credit Karma provides free credit scores and credit reports alongside daily credit monitoring. Users can see updates to their credit scores and credit reports on Credit Karma once a week. Credit Karma also provides credit tools, such as a Credit Score Simulator, which simulates the effect of potential financial actions on a user's credit score and tailored financial recommendations based on each individual user's credit profile.
“Credit Karma is a really cool company. They actually help so many people for free. It was a company I could really get behind. I was shooting in Vancouver for a week, which honestly felt like a paid vacation. Rubert Sanders, who directed Snow White and the Huntsman and Ghost in the Shell, was the director, which was great. It’s rare that you get to work with a feature film director on a commercial. From the first audition I could feel that it was a more theatrical ad, which meant I got to play around more,” said Bela.
The commercial plays a bit like a film, first showing a touching moment of a couple watching their son take their first steps in the living room of their home, and then rewinding time, showing the story of how they got there and how they used Credit Karma to improve their credit score and get a mortgage on their house. It uses the smart humor of a narrator with Bela’s dramatic performance of wife Tina alongside her husband Tom to share a very real and relatable story with its audience.
“This commercial is about tackling your debt head on which is so important. I don’t think there’s a better message from a financial company so I’m very proud of that. The final commercial is a bit tongue in cheek which I love. It’s sweet and you can tell that we’re having fun.
Every scene in the commercial was improv, something Bela immensely enjoyed. She and her co-star were simply told what should roughly be going on in each scene, and it was their job to take that idea and make it something believable. It was a tremendous amount of responsibility, knowing their own ideas were pivotal to the commercial’s success, but it more than paid off. The commercial aired from all across America 5,792 times from November 2018 to March 2019 and allowed for increased awareness of Credit Karma across the country.
Be sure to watch Credit Karma’s “First Steps” commercial.