Los Angeles, CA — The 10 contestants who will compete in Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search For The Next TV Star
have been announced. More than 15,000 people auditioned to vie for the opportunity to have their own show on the new network and 10 contestants with determination, passion and drive were plucked from obscurity to compete.
The one-hour series premieres Sunday, January 2 (9:00 PM ET/PT)
Listed in alphabetical order, they are:
1. Zach Anner
, Austin, TX
As his wildly popular online audition proved, nothing can stop Zach from realizing his dreams. Zach's idea for a show is make a travel show for people who never thought they could travel. He'll also show us how a person in a wheelchair finds his way around America.
2. Elizabeth Espinosa
, Los Angeles, CA
As a news reporter for KTLA, Elizabeth has covered wide-ranging topics, but her desire to understand people started long before that with her younger brother who is learning disabled. By helping raise him, Elizabeth started down the path to where she is now—an accomplished, caring person who wants to give back. "My show would incorporate the interview skills I've honed from being a reporter while also using that platform to help families with disabled children."
3. Aunt Flora
, Cincinnati, OH
A Cincinnati institution, Aunt Flora has been cooking and baking for her beloved city for as long as she can remember. From restaurants to dessert shops, Aunt Flora specializes in southern cooking and has attracted quite a following. "In 2007 Martha Stewart came in and tried my cobbler and then had me on her show...I just love to cook and I've been doing it my whole life." Named "Queen of Soul Food" two years ago, Aunt Flora knows how to mix the old school flavor with the fun.
4. Leigh Koechner
, Valley Village, CA
Leigh is positive, funny and energetic, and wants her show to have a spin unlike any show out there. She produced a presentation piece, "Absolute-Leigh," through out-of-pocket funding and her rolodex of celebrity friends, and hopes to be able to do more. Leigh and her husband, actor David Koechner, are the parents of four young children.
5. Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco
, Alhambra, CA
Vivacious, attractive, witty and above all talented, Kristina has a genuine passion for cooking and wants to share it with the rest of us. "We all have to eat, so I want to show the majority of people out there who think cooking is a chore that it doesn't have to be perfect as long as it's fun, easy and delicious." A true survivor, Kristina escaped war-torn Croatia at age 15 and never looked back, working various jobs as she struggled to raise her two young kids. She cultivated her love of cooking into her website, stickycook.com.
6. Ryan O'Connor
, West Hollywood, CA
America, according to Ryan, needs a lot of things, but most importantly, "this country needs a gay best friend and that's where I come in." Ryan has honed his comedic timing and entertainment skills through his one-man show that's currently touring the country and wants to incorporate those elements, along with some traditional talk show aspects, to fulfill what he was meant to do. "I want to do sketch comedy, musical acts and have a serious component. If a variety show and a traditional talk show had a baby, that'd be my show."
7. Dr. Tony Roach
, Abilene, TX
As a teenager, Dr. Tony dropped out of high school to live on the streets. He turned his struggles into a triumph by getting his doctoral degree in divinity from Abilene Christian University. He has now been a minister for over 30 years and travels the country promoting his message of self-esteem. He would like to take his message to a national television audience.
8. Terey Summers
, Phoenix, AZ
Terey's husband's death three years ago "didn't destroy me but it seriously busted open my life." She found the ambition to lose 170 pounds and the drive to make a pilot for her own show—just before completion, found out about Your OWN Show
. Terey's a sought-after comedic motivational speaker for youth in Arizona and also leads Partners Who Heal, an improv/storytelling group that spends time at St. Joseph's and Phoenix Children's Hospital. She plans to utilize these experiences and her wit to deliver an Ellen-esque flavor to her talk show.
9. Alicia Taylor
, Las Vegas, NV
It may be the fact that she's drop-dead gorgeous or it may be because she's quick to smile and laugh, but whatever it is, Alicia hopes she has the gift to take the topic of money and make it fun, informative and most importantly entertaining. With her B.A. in Business Management, Alicia went on to start her own mortgage company doing what she'd do on her show. "From checking accounts to retirement funds and investing, people need a practical and fun show about all things financial, and because I'm an expert, I can help people make sound decisions."
10. Eric Warren
, Lawndale, CA
His swagger and sway is unmatched, his laugh infectious. When Eric stood up in the tent at an open call, he had the whole group shimmying and shaking as he boisterously described his culinary skill. Once 62 pounds heavier, Eric wants to host a cooking show that has America losing weight with him.
When auditions closed June 26, 2010, there were more than 9,500 online videos and more than 6,100 contestants who came to open casting calls in New Jersey, Texas, California and Georgia. More than 143 million votes were cast online.
In each episode of Your OWN Show
, from Executive Producer Mark Burnett, hosts Nancy O'Dell and Carson Kressley guide the hopefuls through intense challenges designed to see if they have what it takes to have their own show. Each episode the contestants will be mentored by A-list hosts. Dr. Phil, Suze Orman, Gayle King, Arsenio Hall and more will make appearances on the series to guide the contestants and judge the episode. Challenges will range from producing style makeovers and cooking segments to successfully completing a pilot presentation. The winner will receive their very own show!
Carson Kressley and Nancy O'Dell introduce the top 10 on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
About OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
A joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut on January 1, 2011 in approximately 85 million homes on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel. The venture also will include the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com
. For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own
Find OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network on your TV.