Tonight, American Dream Builders premieres on NBC. This is an unbelievable day for me; ten years ago, almost to the day, I sent out an email that changed my life. I was basically a stay-at-home mom of three, with a small freelance design/art business, and when I volunteered to paint a mural of Foxboro Stadium for a little boy who loved the New England Patriots for a new TV show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I had no idea that my career would take a sharp right turn into the crazy world of reality television. In a period of two months, I went from volunteer muralist to directing teams of volunteers, traveling around the country with EMHE, but with rare exception, although my work was featured Sunday nights at 8, it was not my smiling face introducing it to happy children. My work appears often in reruns of that show, Kitchen Nightmares, Bar Rescue, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, Tattoo Rescue, True Beauty, School Pride and many more. My work appears but only seldom do you see me doing or sharing it.
American Dream Builders is my chance of a lifetime. The twelve of us who take the stage to compete in the field making homes better and more beautiful for the families who own them come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Walking onto that stage for the first time was one of the most surreal moments of my surreal career. I looked around at my fellow contestants and thought, “I do not know a soul here”. It really surprised me. I have met so many incredibly talented people in the design and build world through the years that I was sure one or more of them would have been there with me. I was so excited to see what was in store for us, and so, whenever I had a quiet moment, I took little note to remind myself how wonderful the experience was. Here is one of my little scribbles:
“Walked onto the stage and was told to stand in a line with 5 other people! I didn’t know until Nate Berkus said it but this was my team!!! Thrilled and terrified at the same time. Gotta find out what everyone’s specialty is. Well, I know Tarrick is a builder. Bravest thing I saw today. The judges said to pick a team leader but the leader would automatically be up for possible elimination and Tarrick knowingly volunteered. I have a lot of respect for this man.”
As I walked down the street I asked Dann to take a photo of my with my orange backpack. The backpack was a symbol to remind me to have a sense of humor through this reality contestant experience and to remind me of my funny family. As we walked along our handlers, Carrie and Vannieka, said they were taking us to “talent holding”. “Talent” holding kept running through my mind. Here I was walking with 11 other people all of hand picked for our talent and the cameras were waiting to capture it all – not just my work but me too.