Two months after submitting my application video to producers, and four months after going to the open casting call in Seattle, I’m sitting in Orlando at a work conference when I refresh my email and read:
The email tells me that I’ll be flying to Chicago for final callbacks in less than three weeks where I’ll meet the Norwegian producers and participate in a longer on camera interview.
My mind starts racing. Is this for real? Is this happening? Can I actually do this? Honestly I feel a little conflicted – I’m registered for Level III of the CFA exam (an exam only offered one day per year), so going on the show would likely mean pushing the test back another year. Maybe I could tell them next year would work better? What will my boss say?
My second thoughts very quickly dissipate. No, I can’t have any doubts. How many people ever get this sort of chance? This isn’t something I can just push back to next year! This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m all in!
Two and a half weeks later I’m catching a Sunday afternoon flight to the Windy City. I check into my hotel and go for a quick walk around town. Chicago is an amazing city, but this is a business trip – I’ve prepared as it were a job interview. I’ve thought through questions they’re likely to ask me, I’ve come prepared with pictures of my family and our ancestral book, and I even brought a jersey from the baseball team I sponsor, The Ballard Nordics. I’m going to show them how bad I want this.
The next morning I take the bus to O’Connor Casting where I wait to be called into a large production studio. I’m greeted by Joan O’Connor, a friendly face from the Seattle open casting call, along with four producers of the show – Kristoffer, Evelina, Brita, and Sam. For the next ~25 minutes I sit on a chair about 20 feet from Joan, who sits by a cameraman and peppers me with questions. I’m told not to look at the producers too much but just to have a conversation with Joan. (Having some video production experience in high school, I assume this is so they can see how I look/act on camera during interviews, etc.)
Things seemingly go very well, I make the producers chuckle a few times and they seem engaged. The final good sign comes when I ask the producers if they could translate a portion of my ancestry book specifically talking about my family farm to English. “Don’t you think we should wait for Norway for that?” Kristoffer replies. “Yes! Very good point” I respond, “Let’s do that!”
As I leave I see a number of others coming in to interview. I felt like things went well, but I know they’ll be interviewing for 3 days (I later learn there were about 40 people invited to Chicago). We had been instructed not to interact with any other potential contestants, so I simply head out to Millennium Park, meet my friend Kristin for lunch (she’s also Norwegian!), and then head back to O’Hare Airport and fly home to Seattle.
We were told it would take 1-2 weeks to hear back, but only three days later (the day after their final interviews) I got an email stating that the producers had some final questions they wanted to ask me. Apparently they were out of town so we’d need to do them with Joan over Skype the very next day. This couldn’t be a bad sign, I assumed they didn’t want to follow back up with everyone from Chicago, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “maybe I’m on the show and they just want to record my reaction to finding out”. This theory gained strength when I came across this video of Season 6 contestants being told via Skype they had been selected:
Long story short my premonition was spot on. Even so I was shocked and beyond excited. I still don’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but Joan told me I was going to Norway! This is happening. THIS IS HAPPENING! I got one last email from Joan that afternoon:
Even now writing this almost 6 months later it still all seems surreal. I’m going to be on a reality TV show? Is that possible? Is this happening? I get to go to Norway!? I haven’t been this excited in a long long time.
I’m told the producers will contact me in the coming days, and eventually they’ll be coming to Ballard to film my hometown biography!