The Super Bowl commercials are famous for being just as compelling as the game itself. And the 2019 Super Bowl ad for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is no exception. More than just a car commercial, the ad serves as an introduction to Toni Harris, a rising star to watch out for. So, who is Toni Harris? The football player aspires to be the first female in the National Football League.
According to a feature on CBS This Morning, Harris is a defensive back for the East Los Angeles College Huskies. She has received multiple scholarship offers from four-year football programs, but she has not decided which one she is going to accept yet. USA Today reported that Harris has received scholarship offers from Kentucky Christian University, Adams State University, and Graceland University, and that she is planning on signing a letter of intent this summer.
But Harris doesn't just have her sights set on college athletics, she actually has a much bigger goal in mind. She wants to be the first female player in the NFL, and by the looks of it, she is well on her way. Not only is she clearly a sought after athlete, she's also staring in a Super Bowl commercial — definitely a step in the right direction.
In an interview with People Now, Harris recalled the moment she was contacted about the commercial. She shared, "I was getting ready for a game, it was like a four-hour business trip … and I all of a sudden heard my phone beep. I saw a message saying that Toyota wanted to interline my story with the Rav4 they were using for the Super Bowl this year and I was like ‘Wow! What!’"
In the CBS This Morning interview, Harris discussed the obstacles that she's faced to get to this point as a female player. "People around me were not too fond of me playing football," she said. "They thought that I could get hurt a lot easier playing with guys. What motivates me most to play is people telling me that I can't. I love to prove people wrong." And she's done just that. Harris revealed, "I was kicked off of a team when I was younger because I was a girl." Well — look at her now.
Harris told People Now, "I do feel a lot more pumped now since I have the platform to show coaches that I have the talent and the potential to play at the next level, the collegiate level and the NFL level, so I’m ready." This might even lead to more scholarship offers from four-year football programs.
When the commercial makes its TV debut on Sunday, Harris hopes to be a part of something much greater than a car commercial. She wants to set an example and inspiring people around the country. As she told CBS This Morning, "A message that I would like to send to younger girls is to keep your dream alive. Nothing is impossible." She also said, "I'm just paving the way for the next little girl who's going to come along and be a role model as well."
It is a pretty big deal for Harris to have come this far playing football, finding success at both the high school and college levels and being part of such a major ad campaign. For decades, playing football at elite levels has been off limits for women, specifically in non-kicker positions. And by giving her a platform like the Super Bowl, this Toyota ad could be kicking off a whole new era for the sport.