A female barber from Long Island is one of the stars in a new LeBron James commercial for Ruffles potato chips. Jamie Lee Rodriguez, 30, of Merrick whose Instagram @Jayleebladez reflects her inventive hair cutting and styling skills at Hair Magicians, in Wantagh, was tapped by the spot’s casting director through that Instagram page.
“I was extremely surprised,” she says. “So shocked that at first I thought it was spam or a joke.” Rodriguez is one of three other individuals — a blind skateboarder, a single father and a former convict — who find success on the other side of life’s obstacles. James is the overarching player in the ad reminiscing about growing up in Akron, Ohio and his own personal life “ridges” (the unique character of this potato chip) and offering inspiration.
How did Rodriguez fit in? “Being a single mom in a male dominated industry has been a huge obstacle with many ups and downs. The story of my personal journey qualifies because I’ve worked so hard for everything I’ve achieved and never gave up,” she says adding, “When I first started, I got denied by men to cut their hair because I was a female. I had days where I was stressed because I wasn’t making money. So many negatives have been thrown at me, but I kept my head high and continued to practice. I put everything I had into each haircut, watched YouTube videos, and gave free cuts. No matter what was said or happened I just continued doing what I love.”
The commercial was filmed in Los Angeles. Rodriguez’ portion occurred in separate locations — a barber shop and a bathroom in a home. The process was, “very fun and nerve-racking at the same time,” says Rodriguez. “When I first got on the set my hands were so shaky … I had a million thoughts running through my head. I remember closing my eyes and repeating what someone … once said: “the only person stopping you from being successful is you … so show the world who Jayleebladez is.’”
The ad will debut on Christmas Day and Rodriguez says it is giving her hope for what’s next. “With the New Year around the corner, I feel this experience has been an amazing start. For once I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. All my tears, sweat and life challenges were all worth it.”