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“Playboy” Model Was Told to Shut Up

Tennessee- The 20-something blonde who winked into the camera and asked now-defeated U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. to “call me” isn’t a bimbo, she says, she just played one on TV.

Johanna Goldsmith, an Austin, Texas, actor whose appearance in an anti-Ford ad touched off a national political and racial firestorm, was contractually barred from interviews until after Election Day. She spoke to The Tennessean by cell phone today as she drove to work, car-pooling with her mother.

In addition to acting, Goldsmith also translates Spanish for a Texas doctors association. She says she’s “more of a conservative, quiet person” who is “family oriented.”

“I don’t just play the bimbos, I play the young mom too,” said Goldsmith. “I love children and comedy.”

In the controversial commercial, Goldsmith plays a flirtatious blonde who says she met Ford at a Playboy party – a reference to his attendance at a Playboy-sponsored Super Bowl party in Jacksonville, Fla. last year. The ad, filmed in a faux man-on-the-street-style, featured other questionable characters who say they are Ford supporters.

Some pundits and politicians speculated that the ad, paid for by the Republican National Committee, was just enough to put Republican Bob Corker over the top. Because Ford is black, they said the it played into racial fears of a black man dating a white woman.

The fact that 30 short seconds caused such an uproar – and landed Goldsmith’s mug all over primetime television news channels and the front page of major print publications like Time Magazine and The New York Times – completely surprised her, she said.

As the spot was criticized as tacky and latently racist, calls from friends started pouring in alerting Goldsmith to her newfound fame, she said. A friend from Australia even called to tell her she’d made the cover of a major magazine in Melbourne.

Goldsmith, who has Mexican heritage and says she has “dated all nationalities,” said she didn’t see the ad as racist.

The day after the election, Goldsmith is still trying to catch up on the back-and-forth over the ad.

She tape recorded some of the news broadcasts and plans to watch them this weekend to catch up on what people have been saying for weeks.

As for her political views, Goldsmith says she’s apolitical.

“I don’t involve myself in politics. I stick to my job,” Goldsmith said. “For me, it was just a job like any other.”

Linda McAlister, Goldsmith’s agent, said people of all political hues signed onto the commercial, produced by Dallas-based company Scott Howell & Company, because the script was funny.

McAlister said she was surprised people took the ad so seriously.

“That’s what’s been so hilarious about the whole thing,” she said. “We’ve been looking at each other like, ‘You are good. You sold it.'”


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