We all know of the infamous Orbit Gum Commercials. The catchy opening skits with funny antics and cheesy lines. But what about that hot model at the end? Who is she and what does she really represent beyond the good looks and sexy British accent?
I had the chance to speak exclusively with Vanessa Branch, former Orbit Gum Spokesmodel, about her life, career, and true passions beyond the Entertainment Industry.
PPLA: You’ve established this iconic character behind your Orbit Gum Campaign, and people around the world associate you with it. How do you now show you fans and audiences what you are really made of?
VB: Well the funny thing is that they are two very separate careers. People don’t know about the rest of my acting career. Because I’ve done far more. I’ve done almost 30 films. People don’t really associate me with it. I’ve lived two very different lives. Which is amazing because I’m never type casted. And I have the opportunity to not be pigeon holed where I think a lot of actors are. I’m really different in person than I am in all of the characters I play. People don’t recognize me at first until they are with me for a while and then they’re like “there’s something really familiar about you.” So it provides me an opportunity to have a broad range.
PPLA: You’ve made several TV appearances and as you say, you have done a lot of film. People know you best fromLost, Gilmore Girls, and of course your role of Gizelle in Pirates of the Caribbean. What are roles would you like to play that you haven’t played yet?
VB: I would love to do more Period work. Period work is really my favorite. I would love to do something like Shakespeare in Love. This is really my favorite type of work to do. And I also like to do more character work. Even though I’m not in a character actor’s body, that’s what I enjoy doing. That’s what I’m best at. And maybe something extremely dark and broken. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to play that type of role.
PPLA: Let’s talk about Model Employee. What an amazing show for models and spokes models. This show is crazy. These girls are literally doing the craziest of jobs. What was your advice for these girls. How did you coach them through it?
VB: This show was so fun. I mean these are working girls. It’s not like Top Model where the girls are starting from scratch. These girls have been in the business for a while. What I loved about it was that we asked them to be intelligent and use their personalities and their minds to show what they have. My advice to them always was to be a good person. I wanted them to know that that makes such a huge difference. And especially when you are a spokesperson for a brand. Because you meet people all of the time. You don’t just do the promotional campaigns and print ads. You go to large conventions of people. You go into the company and meet the people who work there. You’re meeting clients there. And people can tell very quickly what kind of person you are. If you’re genuine, if you’re are articulate, if you’re cocky, if you are interesting. And you are literally a representation of that company. So that’s what I would say to them. Be the best person you can be and be interesting in who you are as a human being. I mean honestly it’s the inner light that comes out of a person when you meet them. It’s not as much about what they look like on the outside that matters.
PPLA: I know you mentioned previously that you are involved in a lot of philanthropy. What kind of work specifically are you involved in?
VB: I’ve done a lot of work in third world countries where I go and visit different programs with children. So last year I was in Tanzania and I was teaching English, I was there for six weeks and then Rwanda. Teaching English to kids whose parents have HIV or had already passed away from HIV who couldn’t afford to get an education. Education in Africa is not free. If you don’t get an education you are stuck in poverty. So I went to teach and that was an amazing experience. I’ve worked in Peru with an organization that works with sex slavery and little boys. And Bolivia, which is the highest in the world. And when I say little, I mean 4 and 5 years old. These little boys are prostitutes on the streets. Men fly in from all around the world to have sex with them. That was an organization that I worked with to get them off of the streets and provide homes for them.
PPLA: You know I actually lived in Nairobi, Kenya for two years and am personally interested in knowing more about what you did in Africa. What is the name of the organization you went through?
VB: Good Hope in Africa. I’m still working with them now. It’s literally three women who started this. I was literally teaching out in the middle of the dirt. There were no desks, there were no books. There was no curriculum. The black board was a piece of wood with tar over it. And that’s what I would write one everyday and I had no clue what I was doing but it was amazing and rewarding. You know and strangely enough, I’ve done a lot of different charity work. Even in at an orphanage in China. But teaching was the most rewarding. Because I felt like I could really make an impact.
PPLA: What was your dream job beyond acting and modeling as a child? Is there anything else that you would just love to do that maybe you haven’t done yet?
VB: Well on the non-realistic side of it, if being an explorer still existed I totally would’ve done that. Being a war journalist would really interest me. I’m drawn to the extremes. I love being in places where there’s an enormous amount of strife. And strangely enough that’s where there is the most life. And I’m sure you can relate to that having lived in Africa. The other stuff that I would realistically now consider doing is teaching. The other thing is non-fiction book writing. Those are two things that I would be drawn to.
PPLA: Is there anything fun that you would like to share with us? It can be a mannerism, it can be quirk, a hobby, a fear, a phobia…
VB: Sure I’ve got a million of those! I eat bacon everyday. It’s my favorite food. I do not exercise. I still have a baby blanket that I sleep with that I’ve had since I was born. My parents are my best friends. And I think that’s it…
PPLA: Well thank you so much for talking with me today Vanessa. We look forward seeing more of your work!