Debra Messing confronts her fear of public speaking.

1. Debra Messing's Secret Fear
You know Debra Messing from the hit show Will & Grace but you would never guess her secret fear—public speaking! "I'm fine when I'm pretending like I'm somebody else," admits Debra. "But just going out as Debra and having to entertain is absolutely traumatic for me. And somehow I was wrangled into coming here and facing my fear!"

Debra's challenge: to warm up The Oprah Winfrey Show audience—without a script—for 20 minutes! "My hands are literally shaking. I might have some nervous laughter. I might pass out. I might vomit. I might start crying."

Although Debra did a lot of laughing and pulled up an audience member for support, she didn't pass out, or vomit, or even cry. She won the audience over and they all got TiVos courtesy of NBC!
Debra Messing, teacher for a day

2. Teacher for a Day
We also learned that Debra was up for another real, step-out-of-your-box challenge: she wanted to teach a kindergarten class. So we sent this new mommy to the Horace Mann Elementary School in California to play teacher for the day.

"I love children," says Debra. "I was actually a nanny part time to put myself through graduate school to pay expenses. I was a very good student and I loved my teachers. And I just thought it would be a great opportunity to just take a step in their shoes and to see what it's like."

At first, Debra seems like a natural in her new role. Then, just when she thinks she has it under control, Debra declares "arts and crafts time!" Soon, Ms. Messing is making a mess! "It's a little overwhelming. I'm a little harried," she says. "Oh my gosh. I'm fired—I'm firing myself. I mean, look what I've done to this classroom! They're never going to forgive me."
Debra Messing on her son Roman

3. Being a New Mom
One challenge Debra Messing has gladly taken on is being a mother. In April 2004, Debra and her husband, college sweetheart Daniel Zelman, had a baby boy named Roman. When Julia Roberts was expecting her twins , Debra shared with Julia how much her perspective of the world changed. Debra adds she also has a newfound respect for her mother.

"I now revere my mother in a way I never revered her before," says Debra. "I would realize I went days without showering and my husband is still here! It's like, I either shower or I make [Roman] applesauce…I'm going to make him applesauce."

Are there more babies in Debra's future? "I hope so," beams Debra. "I think one more would be perfection."
Professor Adam faked it as a Chippendale dancer

4. Chippendale Challenge
This next challenge would have most men shaking in their boxers. Adam, a college professor at UCLA and a new dad, traded his textbooks for a thong. But will he pass as a Chippendale's dancer on TLC's Faking It?

Three dedicated coaches had just 30 days to whip 6'6", skinny, uncoordinated Adam into a sexy stud. In his final performance, Adam performed for a panel of judges with some real Chippendale dancers and fooled the judges. He got his A+!

Adam says the experience has changed him a great deal. "Starting from step one, having this seemingly impossible goal and going all the way through it gave me confidence. That's actually what allowed me to change my life." Adam took a year off from teaching to pursue his dream: writing a book.
Adam's wife and Doc, a Chippendale dancer

5. The Judges Weigh In
Chippendale's star performer "Doc" was part of Adam's coaching team. When he first met Adam, he thought that teaching the rhythmless professor to dance in 30 days would be impossible. "I've never seen anything like that in my life," says Doc. "And I'm a white boy from the Midwest, I've seen a lot. Until I saw the show, I didn't see exactly how much he had changed. He did an incredible job."

"I thought I was a Chippendale dancer at the end, I swear!" says Adam.

And what did Adam's wife think of his new moves? "When he came home he was pretty cocky," says Lael.
Ben and Genevieve

6. Ben and Genevieve Trade Spaces
On TLC's Trading Spaces, interior designer Genevieve Gorder often asks people to step out of their lives. What will happen when she trades her life with Ben, a 19-year-old fish market laborer?

Ben traveled 3,000 miles from his home in Seattle to step into Gen's life in New York City, having to cook Gen's signature dish—Vietnamese shrimp—for her friends, get a workout from Genevieve's personal trainer, go gown shopping and redesign Genevieve's friend's bedroom.

Meanwhile, Genevieve put her New York life on hold and took on Ben's Seattle existence: rising at the crack of dawn to get her hands on some octopus heads in the city's famed fish market, riding BMX bikes and surviving Ben's unwashed bed sheets!

Ben says that being Genevieve is tiring. "The most difficult [thing] for me was just being on the go all the time," Ben says. "I didn't have any time to do anything. Her life's, like, 'Go, go, go!' All I do is work and then hang out."

Gen says this experience produced "mixed emotions." "It was turbulent," says Gen. "But it's good to be out of your box."
Genevieve from 'Town Haul'

7. Genevieve and "Town Haul"
In addition to her new knowledge of throwing fish and BMX bike riding, switching lives with Ben has given Genevieve ideas for her new show on TLC called Town Haul, where she gives an entire town a facelift.

"Town Haul is about revising communities," Gen says to Ben, "and, [like] a lot of teenagers, I saw your friends didn't have a lot to do. I thought this is something I need to do, [to make sure] every community is inspiring young people to do things."
Phil Keoghan

8. Phil Keoghan and "No Opportunity Wasted"
After a near-death experience, Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan decided to live every day as if it were his last. His motto became "Do it all before you die," and this became the inspiration for his book, N.O.W.: No Opportunity Wasted, and his show by the same name.

Each week on No Opportunity Wasted, one person is given just three days and $3,000 to make their biggest dream a reality. Phil says it's incredible what people can accomplish. "Most people's big excuses are they don't have enough time and they don't have enough money," he says. "We wanted to show people that it really isn't about that at all. We take away all excuses by making sure that their cat's looked after and there are no problems [with their bosses]. The slogan of the show, or the catch of the show, is that imagination is your currency.

"The whole point of No Opportunity Wasted is to get people inspired, to get them to think, 'What do I have and what can I do?'" Phil says. "If you don't know what you want out of life, then how can you possibly go and live the biggest possible life that you can?"

Are you living the life of your dreams? If you were to take your last breath at 3 p.m. tomorrow, what would you regret not doing?
Shane and Phil

9. Shane and Sharks
One memorable guest on No Opportunity Wasted was Shane, a passionate scuba diver from Michigan with a big problem: He was scared out of his wits to swim in the ocean! That is, until Phil showed up with a dare to head to the Bahamas and dive into shark-infested waters to conquer his fear once and for all. Six hours and two plane flights later, Shane hooked up with shark expert Stuart Cove who explained that they'd confront Shane's fear by creating a feeding frenzy of around 40 sharks…with Shane sitting in the middle of it!

There were several moments before the dive in which Shane was ready to back out completely. Then he remembered something his father told him. "We never did family vacations because [my mom and dad] always wanted to do it when they retired," Shane says. "My mom died six months before they retired and one thing dad said to me was, 'Live every day like it's your last. Don't wait.'"

With these words on his mind, Shane and Phil sat in the middle of the feeding frenzy for 40 minutes—Shane conquered his fear!

Before his No Opportunity Wasted experience, Shane worked as a high voltage electrician, a dangerous job that he says he hated. But afterward, Shane says he told himself, "'I just dove with sharks. I can do this.' So I quit, and now I'm working with a great company, still as an electrician, but I don't do the high voltage [work] anymore. … I look forward, for the first time in my life, to going to work." Shane not only took this opportunity to conquer his fears, but to change his life.
FROM: The Biggest Dares in the World
Published on February 02, 2005


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