Going to extremes

Soldotna girl, California boy trade places after being selected for ABC's 'Switched'

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2004

When Amber Spaulding of Soldotna went on vacation about two weeks ago, she was expecting to do some skiing, spend some quality time with her mom and enjoy a break from high school.

What she didn't expect was to be told she's going to be on TV.

Amber has been chosen to participate in the ABC Family TV show "Switched," a reality show where teenagers in different parts of the country are filmed while they trade places for a few days. The teens live in each other's homes, attend their schools, hang out with their friends and essentially live each other's lives.

Amber, an 18-year-old Skyview High School senior, signed up for the show over the Internet durng her Christmas break.

"I always watch TV and I figured I'd get on the Web site and see if I could be on the show," she said.

She filled out an application packet and made a video showing her home, family, friends, the activities she is involved in, what the area is like and other aspects of her life.

 

Amber Spaulding programs her cellphone with "Switched" director Nicole Reitman's number, as Amber's mother, GemiLea Spaulding, center, watches.

Photo by Mark Harrison

She sent the tape off and her hopes of being chosen for the show receded into the back of her mind as she and her mother, GemiLea Spaulding, took off for a ski vacation in Vancouver, Canada, earlier this month.

Amber got her first taste of being a celebrity when she was interviewed by Seattle TV and radio crews at Sea-Tac airport after the flight she and her mother were scheduled on was weathered in.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, Amber got a call from "Switched" while in Vancouver telling her she'd been selected for an episode.

"It's crazy," she said. "I was like, 'Wow I can't believe I got picked.' It happened so quick. ... My friends don't understand how I got picked because, like, they get so many tapes in. I'm really lucky. It must have been the snow that got them."

The switch takes place this weekend. A film crew based in Los Angeles arrived in Soldotna early Thursday morning to film Amber leaving her home off West Poppy Lane and getting on a morning plane at Kenai Municipal Airport.

Amber was kept in the dark as to where she was going until a few hours before her plane left, which made packing Wednesday night a difficult task. But she was optimistic as she pulled out skirts and sandals to pack.

"Hopefully I'll be going somewhere hot and get warmed up," she said.

Her friends had some hopes of their own: that the stranger they'd be showing around Skyview and taking snowmachining in Amber's absence would be a guy -- a cute guy.

As it turns out, Amber and her friends got their wishes -- Amber is being switched with Ben Jackson from La Crescenta near Pasadena in Southern California.

According to Nicole Reitman, the director who is filming the Soldotna portion of Amber's "Switched" episode, the show places kids in situations that are worlds apart from their own.

"Basically, we try to make them kind of two different extremes," Reitman said. "Amber is from a small town in Alaska and she's switching lives with a kid in sunny Southern California."

This is the third "Switched" episode involving Alaskans. A teen from Whittier and one from Highland Lake already have done the show, Reitman said.

Amber guessed right in packing for warm weather. Her replacement, Ben, would have done well to stock up on warm socks and sweaters. He's got a full agenda of winter activities to keep him busy while he's here.

He was scheduled to arrive Thursday night and meet Amber's friends at a pizza party GemiLea planned for him at her house, where he will be staying. For the next three days he'll be inducted in Alaska activities, including dog mushing, sledding, snowboarding, ice skating and ice fishing.

GemiLea will play host to Ben until he leaves Monday morning.

"I told Amber maybe I'm the one who should be worried because I'm going to be here by myself," she said. "I hope (Ben is) as friendly as the other friends Amber has. ... All Amber's friends hang out here and they all talk and get along, so I hope (he's) not so shy I feel like I'm prying."

Though she's not too thrilled at having herself and her living room broadcast on national TV, GemiLea is looking forward to the experience.

"I always wanted to do an exchange program, but I never took an exchange student in because I had such a hard time keeping up with my own kid, so I think it's great," she said. "I just don't know what to wear. You can only be yourself, I guess."

She also is excited for her daughter.

"I'm so happy for her because she's got this opportunity because she really does deserve it," GemiLea said. "I think it's great. I hope it opens some doors for her."

Amber plans to go to college and major in nursing after high school. This is the first time Amber has left Alaska by herself. GemiLea said Amber is a little shy, so this will be a good experience for her to assert herself and gain some confidence.

Reitman said reality shows are getting a bad rap with some people who think they are all about manipulation and meddling with people's love lives.

"I think this is one of the good reality shows out there," she said. "The teens have such a great experience. They totally get to explore a new area and new people, and it's really good for their self confidence. A few times kids don't like the situation they're put into, but most come back and they love it."

Though she said she was nervous Wednesday night, Amber was looking forward to her "Switched" experience.

"Hopefully I'll (go somewhere with) a brother and sister and dad and mom, that's what I really wanted to experience," Amber said. "You always get to hang out with people's friends and experience something out of their life and that's always fun."

Other than her destination, Amber didn't know what activities she'd be doing or who she'd be meeting.

"It's going to be weird," she said. "I'm not looking forward to being woke up and have a camera in my face."

Amber will return home Sunday to meet and spend time with Ben before he leaves Monday morning. The episode will air sometime before the end of next month.

BYLINE1:By JENNY NEYMAN

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

When Amber Spaulding of Soldotna went on vacation about two weeks ago, she was expecting to do some skiing, spend some quality time with her mom and enjoy a break from high school.

What she didn't expect was to be told she's going to be on TV.

Amber has been chosen to participate in the ABC Family TV show "Switched," a reality show where teenagers in different parts of the country are filmed while they trade places for a few days. The teens live in each other's homes, attend their schools, hang out with their friends and essentially live each other's lives.

Amber, an 18-year-old Skyview High School senior, signed up for the show over the Internet durng her Christmas break.

"I always watch TV and I figured I'd get on the Web site and see if I could be on the show," she said.

She filled out an application packet and made a video showing her home, family, friends, the activities she is involved in, what the area is like and other aspects of her life.

She sent the tape off and her hopes of being chosen for the show receded into the back of her mind as she and her mother, GemiLea Spaulding, took off for a ski vacation in Vancouver, Canada, earlier this month.

Amber got her first taste of being a celebrity when she was interviewed by Seattle TV and radio crews at Sea-Tac airport after the flight she and her mother were scheduled on was weathered in.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, Amber got a call from "Switched" while in Vancouver telling her she'd been selected for an episode.

"It's crazy," she said. "I was like, 'Wow I can't believe I got picked.' It happened so quick. ... My friends don't understand how I got picked because, like, they get so many tapes in. I'm really lucky. It must have been the snow that got them."

The switch takes place this weekend. A film crew based in Los Angeles arrived in Soldotna early Thursday morning to film Amber leaving her home off West Poppy Lane and getting on a morning plane at Kenai Municipal Airport.

Amber was kept in the dark as to where she was going until a few hours before her plane left, which made packing Wednesday night a difficult task. But she was optimistic as she pulled out skirts and sandals to pack.

"Hopefully I'll be going somewhere hot and get warmed up," she said.

Her friends had some hopes of their own: that the stranger they'd be showing around Skyview and taking snowmachining in Amber's absence would be a guy -- a cute guy.

As it turns out, Amber and her friends got their wishes -- Amber is being switched with Ben Jackson from La Crescenta near Pasadena in Southern California.

According to Nicole Reitman, the director who is filming the Soldotna portion of Amber's "Switched" episode, the show places kids in situations that are worlds apart from their own.

"Basically, we try to make them kind of two different extremes," Reitman said. "Amber is from a small town in Alaska and she's switching lives with a kid in sunny Southern California."

This is the third "Switched" episode involving Alaskans. A teen from Whittier and one from Highland Lake already have done the show, Reitman said.

Amber guessed right in packing for warm weather. Her replacement, Ben, would have done well to stock up on warm socks and sweaters. He's got a full agenda of winter activities to keep him busy while he's here.

He was scheduled to arrive Thursday night and meet Amber's friends at a pizza party GemiLea planned for him at her house, where he will be staying. For the next three days he'll be inducted in Alaska activities, including dog mushing, sledding, snowboarding, ice skating and ice fishing.

GemiLea will play host to Ben until he leaves Monday morning.

"I told Amber maybe I'm the one who should be worried because I'm going to be here by myself," she said. "I hope (Ben is) as friendly as the other friends Amber has. ... All Amber's friends hang out here and they all talk and get along, so I hope (he's) not so shy I feel like I'm prying."

Though she's not too thrilled at having herself and her living room broadcast on national TV, GemiLea is looking forward to the experience.

"I always wanted to do an exchange program, but I never took an exchange student in because I had such a hard time keeping up with my own kid, so I think it's great," she said. "I just don't know what to wear. You can only be yourself, I guess."

She also is excited for her daughter.

"I'm so happy for her because she's got this opportunity because she really does deserve it," GemiLea said. "I think it's great. I hope it opens some doors for her."

Amber plans to go to college and major in nursing after high school. This is the first time Amber has left Alaska by herself. GemiLea said Amber is a little shy, so this will be a good experience for her to assert herself and gain some confidence.

Reitman said reality shows are getting a bad rap with some people who think they are all about manipulation and meddling with people's love lives.

"I think this is one of the good reality shows out there," she said. "The teens have such a great experience. They totally get to explore a new area and new people, and it's really good for their self confidence. A few times kids don't like the situation they're put into, but most come back and they love it."

Though she said she was nervous Wednesday night, Amber was looking forward to her "Switched" experience.

"Hopefully I'll (go somewhere with) a brother and sister and dad and mom, that's what I really wanted to experience," Amber said. "You always get to hang out with people's friends and experience something out of their life and that's always fun."

Other than her destination, Amber didn't know what activities she'd be doing or who she'd be meeting.

"It's going to be weird," she said. "I'm not looking forward to being woke up and have a camera in my face."

Amber will return home Sunday to meet and spend time with Ben before he leaves Monday morning. The episode will air sometime before the end of next month.



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