TV bouncers stand at Synod rope

Part-time actors from Florida, Begovic and Hernandez answered a casting call, along with several hundred others, for “bouncer types” for a television commercial. “We did not even see the script,” Hernandez remembers, something which he did not find uncommon. So when the two arrived for the day of filming, they had no idea what was ahead.

Filming took place in a Florida cemetery, with the cemetery chapel filing in for the church. Their lines, though monosyllabic, were poignant. Standing at a rope line in front of a church, Begovic and Hernandez, like night club bouncers, allowed some through the line with a tilt of the head and a quick “you,” while holding back others with a stream of “no,” “no way” and “not you.”

Their standards for choosing who could and could not pass were visibly clear: Keeping those of color, the disabled and homosexuals out was key to maintaining order in the church “club.”

The television “bouncers” made an appearance Friday afternoon during the opening session of the UCC’s 25th General Synod, meeting this weekend in Atlanta. Delegates witnessed a live demonstration of the UCC’s extravagant welcome as Begovic and Hernandez stood behind a velvet rope on the stage and turned away a variety of people and a cartoon character.
Though they were acting their part in the commercial, others that day were taking the message seriously. One participant, a young Spanish-speaking man, was visibly upset and spoke out to Hernandez. “He seriously thought we were keeping him out of the church because he spoke Spanish,” Hernandez said.
Begovic and Hernandez did not see their commercial until it aired. Begovic recalls seeing it for the first time during a CNN news report. Once the commercial, and the news reports, became public, both received said they some notoriety from family and friends, some comments directed more at their characters than at them, and both were surprised by the controversy.

“Now that I see it here [at General Synod], I understand what the message is all about,” Hernandez said.

Begovic and Hernandez still reside in Florida. Begovic just completed filming an infomercial for an exercise product. Hernandez is still working full-time while hoping his acting can become a full-time endeavor. And both are occasional night-club bouncers. Hernandez said, “Every now and then, someone recognizes us [from the commercials] and puts his hand out and says, ‘No way. Not you.'”
Categories: United Church of Christ News

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