To be, or not to bee, that is the question.
Joseph Masellis is a fourth-year media, information and technoculture student who was raised in Markham. But you might know him better as Bernard: the boy was who was raised by bees.
When Joseph was in the sixth grade, he became the face of Honeycomb cereal starring in dozens of commercials and viral videos over the span of four years.
After starring in an elementary school production of Peter Pan, Joseph’s mother started taking him to commercial auditions. At the time, the biggest benefit he saw of going out to auditions was getting pulled out of class.
Joseph got his big break after only a handful of auditions. The Honeycomb commercial called for boys aged 10-14 years old with long hair. Check and check.
As Joseph and his mother sat in the waiting room, they noticed parents messing up their aspiring stars's hair to give them a more “wild” look. To Joseph's surprise his mother pulled hairspray out of her purse and began messing up his hair as well.
When he went into the audition room, the director asked him to pretend to be a bee — something Joseph had understandably never done before. At the end of the audition, the director told him he was the only boy he'd seen who demonstrated the “bee vibe”, and the rest was history.
“Being creative for the rest of my life, I think that’s what stimulates me more than anything else,” Joseph said.
After a while, Joseph became an Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists member and was sent on more auditions. But balancing auditions and school work became too much for Joseph to handle and he stopped.
Although he no longer stars in commercials, the Honeycomb commercial was just the start of a long journey into the advertising world. Now an MIT student, Joseph hopes to work in advertising — just behind the scenes.
“That was my favourite part, not being in front of the camera, but hanging out with the producers and the writers and director,” Joseph said. “I was involved with the creative process, which was the most fun I had with that commercial. Sitting in the writer's room and giving my own ideas that made into the viral videos.”
This past summer Joseph interned at Entertainment Tonight Canada alongside host Rick Campanelli. Of all the famous people Joseph met during his internship, actor and writer Dan Aykroyd stood out most. While doing an interview at ET Canada, Aykroyd spoke out against the poor treatment of Leslie Jones and racism.
“He goes on this 10 minute rampage about people from the south and their racist tendencies and Donald Trump,” Joseph said. “It was the best because I was just standing behind the studio, helping behind the camera that day, watching this guy go nuts.”
When applying for universities, Joseph knew he wanted to get into Western’s MIT program, but was one per cent shy of the recommended minimum average. Still determined to get into the MIT program, Joseph went to Huron then made his way to main campus second-year by attaining a high average.
Although starring in commercials might not be a part of Joseph’s future, he had a good run and will, hopefully, be able to make commercials of his own one day. Before returning to Western this year, Joseph was going through some old items in his house and came across a Honeycomb cereal box that he was featured on.
Ironically, Joseph doesn’t eat cereal anymore as milk upsets his stomach. But if he had to choose a cereal brand today, he’d choose Honey Nut Cheerios.