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Forsyth County dad, daughter appear in Super Bowl commercial
Mike and Olivia Whinnett - photo by For the FCN

FORSYTH COUNTY — In the days following the Super Bowl, there is typically a lot of talk about the best and worse commercials that aired during the game. For one Forsyth County family, the choice was clear.

Forsyth County resident Mike Whinnett and his daughter, Olivia, were featured among some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment during an ad for the MINI Cooper.

Whinnett said that he didn’t feel much pressure to act in a commercial viewed by millions, since he didn’t know it was going to be a Super Bowl 50 commercial until filming in California.

“Everything was kind of a process of discovery,” he said.” We knew at the beginning it was for a MINI commercial. When we got there, that’s when we kind of realized this was going to be a Super Bowl MINI commercial.

“Then during the shoot and the process, that’s when we got to know what the full scale of the message was and the significance of that, and it was pretty cool.”

The commercial asks viewers to reconsider their stereotypes of the car brand. Whinnett, a large man with a Liverpool accent slightly altered by moving to Scotland as a teenager, calls it “cute.” Olivia, an elementary schooler, says it is for “single, young professional” and “kidless.”

According to Whinnett, his daughter wasn’t too affected by the commercial.

“Olivia is a typical 8-year-old. She was professional, she did her job,” he said. “But when we asked her, ‘What was your favorite part,’ she was like, ‘The aquarium,’ because I took her to the aquarium in Long Beach.”

The ad also features: Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder; Serena Williams, a women’s tennis champion; T-Pain, an Atlanta rapper; Randy Johnson, a former MLB pitcher and World Series champion;  Abby Wambach, a Women’s World Cup champion; and actor Harvey Keitel.

Whinnett also has a separate interview with MINI, talking about defying his own label as a “tough guy,” which has been viewed online more than 50,000 times and has more views than some of the celebrities in the video.

“After I finished doing my shoot, it was decided that they’d do the interview like they did with some of the other celebrities … and they decided to do for me as well,” he said.  “It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision after the shoot. It was basically just an interview.”

Whinnett said he drives a MINI, and the car got him the job.

“My wife was looking at casting call on a casting website, and she saw it … one of the requirements was being a MINI owner,” he said. “They were looking for all different types, so she submitted myself and my daughter.”

He said he didn’t imagine the vehicle would land him the job, but that he also didn’t see himself as an actor.

Whinnett said that he only started acting last year, when a job hunt found him looking at extra roles for projects in Atlanta.

“The whole process, what’s happened is quite surprising to me as a whole, never mind just the car,” he said. “It’s just kind of snowballed and I’m now a full-time actor. It’s funny.

“I tell people I’m a full-time actor and the fact that I was driving a MINI was the ‘in’ to getting an acting job was kind of ironic, if nothing else.”