by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
In December of 2008, Doug Miner, 35, was stuck at home during the snowstorm that made headlines across the nation. Each morning, Doug would wake up and read the news. As luck would have it, he came across an ad asking for American-Norwegians to attend a casting call to learn about their heritage through a reality show.
'I didn't really want to be on a TV program, but had been so bored because of the snow that I told a friend about it and he came over and filmed my application video,' Doug told Seattle Gay News. 'He took my rambling footage home and edited it and sent me the file. I sent in the application without even watching the video he put together, expecting that nothing would come from it. But after an on-camera interview in Chicago, I was cast for the show!'
The show, Alt For Norge (All For Norway in English) takes 10 Norwegian Americans who don't know much about Norway, have never traveled to Norway, and don't speak Norwegian back to the country to learn about their heritage.
'The generic name for the show is 'Culture Shock Norway,' and the intent is to put Norwegian-Americans into situations that every Norwegian knows about, but are all new to the Americans,' Doug told SGN.
The show's format could be likened to the hit reality TV show Amazing Race.
'Each week we traveled to a new part of Norway, were divided into two teams, and did a group competition dealing with something 'traditionally' Norwegian,' said Doug. 'The winning team got a prize and was safe from elimination and the losing team had to compete in an individual competition. The person who did the worst in the individual competition was sent home. The grand prize was $50,000 and getting to have a family reunion with our Norwegian relatives.'
Doug was not the only Gay character on the show. 'Out of 10 contestants, there were two of us,' he said. 'The other LGBT cast member was Signe Harriday, a Lesbian from NYC. She is an actress, married to her beautiful wife Erin, and an overall amazing person. We bonded immediately and she became my best friend from the show.'
Doug says the experience was 'the coolest thing I've done in my life.'
'I pretty much had a first-class, all-expenses-paid trip around Norway with an amazing group of cast and crew. During my stay on the show, I was able to travel from the southern tip of Norway all the way up to Svalbard and everywhere in between,' he said. 'Visually, everything about Norway is awe-inspiring. Cliffs, fjords, valleys & so to be able to experience Norway from top to bottom made me feel incredibly lucky.'
The show was light-hearted and fun - even in competition - and all of us were there for the same reason: to learn about our heritage, so there was little drama among the cast and we all genuinely got along, he said.
'I do have to say, however, that being in a contained environment without control of what is coming, and knowing that your performance determined your fate in the show was very stressful for me, and I may have cried or screamed a few times to release the stress,' admits Doug.
Something not seen on-camera, said Doug, 'was that after we wrapped each episode, we had a huge cast/crew party on location.'
'We had such good times drinking and partying the nights away. I thought the Gays had it down, but those Norwegians know how to party,' he joked. 'In a small fishing town, after our wrap party for that episode, I got up the next day to stumble my way to breakfast. Some of the crew were still up and had not gone to bed because they were waiting for the sun to set. That far north, the sun doesn't set that time of year! We laughed about it, and I gave them my sleeping bag so they could catch some sleep and sober up.'
We don't want to spoil the outcomes, so we won't print if Doug ends up winning the competition or not. You can find out by attending the Alt For Norge official viewing party at The Lobby Bar (916 E. Pike St.) every Sunday at 8 p.m., until May 15.
Doug currently works at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance supporting the Cellular Therapy Lab's operations. 'I've been there for about a year and a half. I had lost my previous job to go on the show but was lucky to find a job so quickly after getting back,' he said. 'I used to sing with the Seattle Men's Chorus and played volleyball for years, so people may have seen me through those organizations. Like most Seattleites, I like spending as much time outside as I can when we have nice weather, so will play tennis or go hiking or whatever I can do when it's not raining.'
'I have a house just north of Northgate and a cat, Chester,' he continued. 'Although not an 'artist,' I enjoy being creative and just finished a year-long 'photo of the day' that I was posting on Facebook. And aside from game nights or dinners and movies with friends, that's pretty much me in a nutshell!'
'I'm very happy to have people reach out to me if they have any questions about the show,' he said. 'It was such an amazing experience for me, I'm happy to talk to people about it. They just cast season two of the show, and they also are currently casting a Swedish version of the same show. I'd recommend submitting an application for the next round of the show if you qualify, because it was a ton of fun!
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