Nebraska vegetable farmer Grace Lasker

Nebraska vegetable farmer Grace Lasker always wondered what it would be like living the high society life. TLC's reality show Faking It offered Grace the chance to live out her dream: to transform herself from a tractor driving farm girl to a high-heel-wearing New York socialite.

Grace leaves her organic garden and tractor behind and heads to the Big Apple. She meets up with New York "It" boy Fabian Basabe, who will guide her through the transformation.

From the start, Fabian knows he has his work cut out for him. "Grace is a Midwestern girl. Her bag and everything in it and everything she came with, it's gonna have to go."

To make Grace look the part of a socialite, Fabian replaces her glasses with contacts, takes her to a dermatologist, and gets her teeth whitened at the dentist. But, looking good is only half the battle. Next, Grace meets with etiquette guru Catherine Saxton who prepares Grace for her first test— an A-list only event!

With a $25,000 designer dress and $50,000 in jewelry, Grace looks like a million bucks. Her assignment—catch the eye of the paparazzi. She passes with flying colors!
Nebraska vegetable farmer Grace Lasker

Despite her success with the paparazzi, Grace has another challenge. She must fit in at a high society luncheon. After weeks of lessons in table manners and making conversation, Grace begins to have a problem with the idea of becoming a socialite.

"I can't just pretend to be someone that's sitting around not doing anything," says Grace. "I have to have something that I'm doing in life. I guess that's what I'm desperately trying to find."

Finally the day has arrived! Grace is off for her final challenge. Two hours into the luncheon Grace seems to be doing well. Then, the conversation turns to art. When asked who her favorite artist is, Grace, to Fabian and Catherine's horror, responds, "I've been influenced by the Sistine Chapel."

In the end, the judges weren't fooled. Only one of three judges thought Grace belonged at the luncheon. Still, Grace says the opportunity has taught her some valuable lessons. "I learned that I'm a confident person, and I learned that I'm a strong person and that in difficult situations, if I put the effort into it, I can really conquer it."
Metalworker Todd Farrand

Metalworker Todd Farrand usually spends his days in a greasy junkyard. But Todd is about to trade in his tools for the catwalks of high fashion—he's about to fake it as a male model in L.A. "My idea of a lot of male models is that they're pampered and lazy," says Todd. "I've seen male models that I'm better looking than."

Supermodel Mark Fisher escorts Todd to Beverly Hills where modeling agent Spencer Salley is waiting. Spencer is shocked when he sees Todd. "Are you kidding me? What is this, the Beverly Hillbillies or something? It's like Jethro Bodine with red hair."Todd quickly learns that the modeling business is tough. With criticisms flying at him left and right—too old, too fat, too scraggly, too dirty—he admits it feels personal. "I'm having a lot of second thoughts right now. In fact, I'm actually freaking out but I'm trying not to show it."

Without wasting any time, Mark and Spencer get the transformation started. Todd's beard is history! Next it's cut, color and clothes. Despite his makeover, Todd's first photo shoot is a disappointment. According to Spencer, Todd looks stiff in his photos, and his 6'3," 200-pound frame is just too big for modeling.

After four weeks of grueling workouts (he loses 30 pounds) and intense coaching, Todd is ready for his big challenge—modeling at the Miss Sixty denim fashion show alongside professional male models!
Modeling agent Spencer Smalley

Upon arriving at his assignment, Todd is introduced to a panel of experts from across the fashion world. The judges ask Todd to describe his "look." Unprepared, Todd answers: "I don't know how to describe my look, but I'd say 'catalog boy.'"

Next, Todd and the real models hit the catwalk. To Mark and Spencer's delight, Todd seems confident when strutting down the runway, and in the end he even manages to fool the judges! Todd admits that the experience taught him a few life lessons. "You learn a lot about yourself with things like that. ... That when you're down you're not out. You know, win or lose, you've still got to finish."

"The thing about male modeling is it's just completely superficial," says Spencer. "Like in my situation with Todd, the truth is I wasn't asking Todd to change at all the person who he is. All I had to do was change him physically to look like a male model."
Jae Jae and Phil Keoghan

Phil Keoghan, the author of the book No Opportunity Wasted and the host of the television show of the same name, helps people face their fears and live out their lifelong wishes with $3,000 and 3 days to fulfill their dream.

Once a person is chosen and the show has handled the logistics of leaving for three days, the rest is up to the individuals. "They do everything for themselves," Phil says. "They find the people. They get the opportunity all for themselves."

One of those people Phil has helped on No Opportunity Wasted was Jae Jae Russo, a small-town DJ with a big-time dream: She wanted to be a DJ on New York's Z100, one of the top radio stations in the country. Jae Jae had 72 hours to convince the top brass at Z100 that she's got what it takes to be on the air. The station agreed to give Jae Jae a chance, but only if she passed a number of difficult tests. The first was to book a big-time celebrity just 30 minutes! Next, Jae Jae's radio voice was heavily scrutinized. After two days of intense professional scrutiny, Jae Jae was emotionally and physically drained.

Then, without warning, Jae Jae faced the final-decision station managers at Z100. Would she fulfill her dream and get on the air?
Jae Jae was a New York DJ

The station managers let Jae Jae fulfill her dream of being a DJ on New York's Z100.

Oprah: So, how did that experience of living your dream for an hour affect your life?

Jae Jae: Oh, it affected my life a lot because we do have to do it by ourselves. When I walked into the [radio station], you didn't show that part, but the woman really didn't want to hear what I had to say. I said, "Hello, my name is Jae Jae. I'm from Monterey." They didn't care. I'm from a small town; I'm a superstar [there]. [Z100] didn't care who I was. That wasn't even half the test I went through.

Oprah: Don't you feel great that you earned it?

Jae Jae: I love it. That was the best. That's why I kind of got emotional because it's kind of like going through it again when you see it. I had [high] self-esteem for days. But I have a different kind today.  I know I can accomplish anything I have a mind to.
Phil Keoghan, host of 'No Opportunity Wasted'

According to Phil Keoghan, host of No Opportunity Wasted, hearing Jae Jae speak of lessons she learned in her experience on the show is particularly gratifying. "The reality of what people want is, sometimes, they don't understand it," he says. "And if you just hand it to people and they live the fantasy, that's not real. I say to people, 'If you've always wanted to be an actor, it's not about getting somewhere; you have to go through the journey.
Dave lived in a Muslim community; image courtesy F/X Networks

Image courtesy F/X Networks.

The F/X show 30 Days challenges people to leave their comfort zone and live in a radically different experience than they're used to. In one episode, Dave, a staunch Christian from West Virginia, lived in a Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan, for 30 days.

Before going to live with Shamael and Sadia, Dave had scant interaction with any Muslims. "I picture a woman with a sheet or hat and her face covered," he said. "I think of men with AK-47s." But Dave knew stepping out of his comfort zone was an amazing opportunity. "It's going to put me, probably, in one of the most vulnerable positions I have to be in," Dave explained, "and I expect to really grow from it."

But the cultural discomfort cut both ways: Shamael was uncomfortable with the prospect of Dave's being alone with Sadia. As Shamael explains, "It's just more of a religious custom that one doesn't stay in a room alone with another person from the other sex."
Dave learns about Islamic faith and Muslim culture

Dave did stay for the full 30 days and began to embrace Muslim culture. He wore traditional Muslim clothing, studied the Koran daily, spoke Arabic, grew a beard and ate Middle Eastern food.

At the end of his 30-day dare, Dave had a much different perspective about Islam. "Before, I never really knew anything about Islam and I really never had any thoughts of it. I got married, actually, on September 15, four days after 9/11. I just was so angry right after that event!" Dave admits. "It's a very shallow view: 'Muslims hate us. We hate them. Why don't we just nuke them?' There's never really any thought past that. Unfortunately, people that are so ignorant of the other faiths are often the ones that are most vocal about it."

Now, after essentially becoming a Muslim for 30 days, Dave has a new understanding of prejudice. "I've got a new appreciation for what it's like to be discriminated against," says Dave. "When I was in Michigan, it was strange because the white Americans there looked at me very differently [when I was dressed like a Muslim,] often with very mean looks on their faces. [Meanwhile,] the Muslim population was very, very distrustful of me. They thought I was part of some conspiracy to make them look bad."
Dave, Shamael and Sadia

Of course, this was an interesting experience for Dave's hosts as well.

Shamael says that he found it difficult when he informed Dave of the rules preventing unmarried men and women from being alone together. "As a host, we should be welcoming and we should be inviting— it doesn't matter who it is," explains Shamael. "But with the religious and cultural upbringing we have, we felt it was the appropriate thing to tell him. 'Okay, the man has to go or the woman has to go.' Men and women just don't stay together in one room alone."

In another eye-opening experience, Shamael recounts a conversation he had with Dave. "I asked him a question. I said, 'Name five Muslims that you know,'" Shamael says. "He told me, 'Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein...' And I'm, like, 'Oh, my God: We're all terrorists.' And I said, 'What about Muhammad Ali? What about Hakeem Olajiwan? What about these more prominent Muslim figures in America?' And I realized, at that point, Muslims need to do a better job about explaining their faith, about being better American citizens, about taking the lead in addressing different social issues and whatnot."

See how others have confronted their fears and lived life to the fullest.

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?
FROM: Once in a Lifetime Dares
Published on September 08, 2005


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