WATCH TELEVISION on any given day, and it won’t take you long to catch a retro-polished gal with bright red lipstick and a tricked-out name tag. Dubbed Flo, this character has quickly become the face of Progressive auto insurance. Her true identity is Stephanie Courtney ’92, and she has become one of the most-recognized commercial pitchwomen and a cult heroine to TV addicts and bloggers.
“When I saw the first Progressive ad on the air, I thought ‘Oh, my God! That’s me,” Courtney says. “Getting to play Flo has been a happy surprise. It’s the most awesome gig.”
Courtney says her time at Binghamton University helped her turn an acting passion into a career. On campus, she studied under Professor Tom Kremer and played Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible. Kremer also helped her decide where to study theater after she graduated from Binghamton.
“I was never tortured over whether I wanted to become an actor,” Courtney says. “There was never another option in my mind.”
Between shoots for new Progressive commercials, Courtney keeps busy in Hollywood auditioning for new roles. She played switchboard operator Marge in Mad Men and is a company member at The Groundlings, a sketch and improvisational theater.
“When I first moved to Los Angeles, I saw an improv show at The Groundlings and … couldn’t believe the actors were building scenes virtually out of thin air,” says Courtney, adding that dark comedy is her niche. “I love doing a nice, juicy, dramatic role when I get the chance, but I feel most at home when there’s some sort of comedic angle.”