Sandra Lee gets the job done. Or at least that’s what she told us during an interview Wednesday discussing her experience on a recent episode of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘ which airs this Sunday at 8PM.
The show, which is a guaranteed weekly tear jerker, features the family of Nathan Montgomery, who gave up his career in order to start the Salt and Light charity to feed thousands of hungry families in his community. So when 100 year-old home was in desperate need of repair, the ‘Makeover’ crew decided call in a few chefs, including Lee, who traded in their ladles and aprons for hammers and tool belts.
How did you become involved with ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’?
They called me. I think they called me because the family, Nathan and Jenny, aren’t just a family that’s getting a new house. They gave up their jobs to start a food bank called Salt and Light. In doing that we redid their house, we redid Salt and Light, and we did fundraisers. We did fundraisers to pay off their mortgage and we raised money to run the food bank for a year so that they can breathe and catch up. We got two huge semis full of food donated. It was a lot of work and they needed a lot of manpower. This show is also going to be where the President is going to make his call to action for National Volunteerism Week.
Did you do any work on the house?
I did, I got my saw and my little glasses on and I was out there. Are you kidding me? I was not going to have men show me up! Please. I was gettin’ it done! [Laughs]
So it wasn’t you just picking out wallpaper for the kitchen?
No, but I did help paint a beautiful mural in one of the little girl’s rooms. It was something that looks like it belongs in ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’, but better.
What was it like when you finally met the family?
They were wonderful. The kids were stunned, so excited. It was so incredible to see their dreams of a new home come true. I know shows like this every single Sunday can get mundane or stale, this particular series never does. The stories or so well done and thought out and incredibly engaging, but they all have a very specific, different, message. So every week you come away with something that is really incredible and that you can utilize in your own life. That’s what I think is so genius about the team that puts together these shows every Sunday night. I became very personally close with all of them. We still email each other, it’s like being part of a family. It’s a beautiful thing.
Who do you still keep in contact with? Ty?
Oh no, not Ty. No, I have a boyfriend. But you know, the girls on the crew, the gay boys and the production staff. Girls don’t email straight men. They just don’t.
So how emotional were you during the show’s “move that bus” moment where they finally reveal the new house to this family?
I was simultaneously laughing and crying so hard that I really hope they don’t use that shot because I probably don’t even look like me. I’m so distorted from the emotion. We thought he [Nathan] was going to go down, meaning we thought he was going to pass out. I think she [Jenny] was the one who went down and I’m not sure the cameras even got it because everyone was waiting for him. They realized what this meant.
It’s so interesting and goes to show you that you can never judge a book by its cover. Just because someone isn’t as talkative or a chatty Cathy about something that means something to them, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it just as deeply as a person who is able to articulate what they think, what they want, and how they feel.
He’s a very smart man and created this out of nothing. They created something that has changed an entire community out of nothing. That’s a hard thing to do. They live it everyday. The sacrifice that this family has made, they deserve everything ‘Extreme’ did for them and more.
It sounds like you had an amazing and touching experience.
I did, I really did. It feels like I’m a part of a family. I would love to do it again if they ask me back.