Just say the words “Express Flooring” in any room of people in Phoenix and you’ll immediately be answered by a chorus of “…is the best! Call 1-800-EXPRESS!” The earworm jingle – undoubtedly one of the Valley’s most maddeningly catchy commercials – is synonymous with its singer, a petite blonde with show tunes pipes. Jenee Prince, 47, downplays her local TV fame. “It’s so silly,” the musical theater teacher says. “I’m a mom first and foremost” to three, ages 19, 16 and 12. Prince, known as “Miss Jenee” to the children she teaches through her music camps, is also the performing arts director for American Leadership Academy’s 12 schools and director of one of the world’s longest-running outdoor Easter pageants, Jesus the Christ, held at the Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I love my crazy life,” she says.
How did you become the voice of Express Flooring?
“My dad owns an advertising agency [Mesa-based Larry John Wright], and he asked me if I would come and just do something really quick – kind of give the client an idea of what they were going to do… After the auditions happened with other people, [the owner said] ‘What about the other girl who was there? We liked her.’ … I have a degree in vocal pedagogy and vocal performance [from Northern Arizona University and Brigham Young University], so I have performed and done other things before that. I’ve been doing it [the commercials] for like 10 years now.”
How did you find your musical calling?
“My dad is very musical, and my grandparents were very musical. They always instilled a love for music in me. My grandma owned a dance studio here in Arizona [Jeanne’s School of Dance in Chandler and Mesa]… I started taking dance from the age of 3, and I was on the stage and loved to sing and loved to perform… Then I worked for her, and taught tap dance classes with her and worked alongside her for a number of years, and then taught musical theater at the studio. So I’ve just been around it my whole life.”
Avid commercial watchers have tracked the evolution of your look over the years, particularly your hair and makeup. Any insight?
“I do have naturally curly hair. I straighten it when I have a little bit more time, and I let it go when I feel like doing it curly. And it’s funny, because people will make comments… I don’t enjoy getting ready. I don’t wear foundation ever. Someone was asking me, ‘Do you have a skincare regimen?’ Yeah, I get it wet in the shower.”
What is your process for a commercial shoot?
“Every month, or every other month, I go in with two or three shirts or changes of outfits. They like solid colors, things that look great in front of a green screen… But it’s all from here [waist] up, so I go in my capris and my flip-flops or jean shorts or whatever… I’ll do three or four different commercials and read the teleprompter and be done. I’m not one take, but I’m fast.”
Do you get recognized a lot in real life?
“Honestly, it used to happen a lot more. I think people recognize me if I’m talking in a store. Some people will do kind of a double take… I hope nobody will remember me in life just because of the flooring thing. I hope I bring a lot more to the table… I am a simple, grateful, happy person who loves my family, my faith and my life. Someone once classified me as a ‘life enthusiast,’ and I will take that title over ‘low-maintenance’ any day.”
How do you handle the inevitable haters?
“If somebody says something negative about me, I know that they don’t know me as a person, but I can understand. If all you do is watch TV, and you see me over and over… I’m sick of myself, let’s be honest! I mean, if people think they’re sick of me, I am way more sick of myself than anybody could possibly be of me… I feel like if they talked to me and got to know me, they’d be like, ‘Oh, she’s a cool person, and she makes really great chocolate chip cookies.’”
What’s the cookie secret?
“My motto for chocolate chip cookies is: ‘If they don’t look done, they are.’”