Mid-Emmy Kia commercial stars an Oxy alum and brings on a lot of Tweets

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Courtesy of Reba Buhr

The Kia car company premiered a long commercial during the 2022 Emmy Awards on Sept. 12, garnering confusion from audiences who then turned to Twitter to express their frustration.

“I’m gonna key 6 Kia’s for that one,” Twitter user @AD79DAVE said.

The commercial featured two actors who said the same four lines of dialogue in different situations; each situation referenced a different genre of television being celebrated at the show. One of the two stars of the commercial was Reba Buhr ’10.

“I had a little watch party with some friends,” Buhr said. “I was just like, ‘Oh, oh, oh — this is it! Everybody watch!’ It was so exciting to see the way it turned out because I had no idea what everything was going to look like.”

The Kia commercial aired during the middle of the Emmy Awards show and ran for almost two minutes. Most commercials are 30 seconds long, so the Emmy goes to… Not Kia.

Emmys are announcing the noms at 3x speed and not letting us listen to Jennifer Coolidge but then make us sit through a 5 min Kia Ad in the middle of programming,” Twitter user @iamanilroutoo7 said.

Buhr said she had hoped reactions would be positive — then she looked online.

“There had already been an article written about how many tweets had come out about how annoyed people were,” Buhr said. “They felt like it had cut off someone’s speech and that it was annoying because it tricked [viewers] into thinking they were watching something that wasn’t trying to sell them something.”

The Kia ad played before the time when the host usually signals a commercial break, leading viewers to wonder if they were watching a skit that was part of the show.

“I was the only person in America who knew it was a commercial,” Buhr said.

Buhr, who double majored in theater and music at Occidental, not only had to perform the dialogue in the commercial, but also had to drive the Kia in an action sequence.

“We shot it in two days, and it was two long, hard days, especially the desert day because it was 105 degrees outside,” Buhr said. “They wanted me to pull up to this tree in the desert on sand really fast and stop really hard. There was a stunt double but they need you to do it most of the time because they can see you through the window.”

Claudia Gomez ’10 was a fellow theater major who said she attended Buhr’s watch party, and she did not realize the scope of the commercial until it came on. From imitating “That ’70s Show” to parodying a romantic drama, Buhr flexed her acting chops.

“I was thrilled. It really plays to her strengths,” Gomez said. “I just love to see her stretch all these muscles and be all these characters.”

Buhr said that she is primarily a voice actor, but she also wrote a book called “Get Thee to a Therapist.” In case you need to go to a therapist after watching her mid-Emmy’s commercial, Buhr said that her book is about the ways people can work the healthcare system to get mental health support.

Despite her success as a voice actor and now a writer, Buhr said that she thought there was no way she would book the Kia commercial.

“Lo and behold, I went to the audition, and I got a callback,” Buhr said. “They booked me! They liked what I brought to the table.”

Or, to the car.

Reba Buhr at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 23, 2022. Eddie Dong/The Occidental

Buhr’s husband, John Niehuss ’05, said after seeing the different costumes and changes in the commercial, he had more questions about what it was like to shoot the ad. The actors in the commercial transition from wearing outdoor outfits as if they were on an adventure competition show to wearing fancy evening attire as if they were spies on a high speed chase.

“I’ve seen Reba in various bits of media over the years, and this one felt like a really nice showcase,” Niehuss said. “It was really cool to see such a long commercial, and to have so many setups, so many different locations. It just felt like a really fun thing, if I was an actor or actress, to have done.”

Contact Ava LaLonde at lalonde@oxy.edu