Reality TV Bites Back Dec 9th, 2008 / Updated August 21st, 2013
Nancy Hadley kicked back on the couch in early 2004 and watched the debut of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
And after an episode or two, Hadley had the thought that comes to many of us as we watch reality TV, that feeling of, ‘ I could totally do that.”
“Hook, line and sinker, I totally did,” Hadley says, laughing at the memory. “I knew I could do it. I had that couch confidence you get when you’re watching a design show.”
But here’s the difference between Hadley and you or me and the other people who hang out on their sofas, offering views on everything from the song-and-dance contests to the fashion-and-cuisine competitions that flash across our TV screens at night.
First, Hadley actually had, and has, some pertinent skills that fit those on display each week when “Extreme Makeover” rolls into a new town. After a career designing and installing museum exhibits, she’d started her own business as a design consultant – especially for kids’ rooms – and mural painter.
Second, Hadley actually got off the couch and did something about her thought.
“I watched the Costa Mesa show” – the McCrory family episode from March 2004 – and I went upstairs and started looking for the people on the show,” Hadley says. “I googled the show. I googled (host) Ty Pennington and found a site that said, ‘Ask Ty A Question.’
“So I wrote, ‘Can I help you?'”
A week or so later, late at night, her cell phone rang . The message she heard the next morning would launch her into an unexpected if oh-so-modern kind of fame.
Jevon Hadley sometimes teases his wife that she was raised by Uncle Television. And, as a kid in Marin County in the ’70s and ’80s, Hadley admits that she did love her some television.
“I have five brothers and sisters, and so after dinner every night it would be a row of us on the couch, and a couple on the floor,” says the mother of three – Connor, 12, Isabel, 8, and Larkspur, 7 – whose childhoods involve much less time in front of the tube.
“I always felt ‘The Brady Bunch’ was part of my family,” Hadley says. “But we weren’t allowed to watch ‘The Three Stooges’ because my mom felt that my brothers would try to emulate them.”
Even so, she was comfortable on the couch-side of the screen, partly the result of camera-shyness that left her avoiding any lens that might venture her direction.
After graduating UC Santa Barbara with an art degree, she went to work for a Northern California company that designed natural history museums.