If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you know that a couple weeks ago, I had the honor of traveling to Chicago to film an episode of "The Steve Harvey Show" to talk about Generation Hope and how we're reducing poverty one family at a time by helping teen parents earn their college degrees. It was a fast-paced but absolutely amazing experience. While we wait for the episode to air, I thought you might like a behind-the-scenes look at the trip. It was definitely something I'll never forget.
How it began
It happened fast. I received a call from one of the producers on Wednesday, and I was on a flight to Chicago Monday afternoon. From the beginning, I knew I wanted my husband, Donte, to come with me. I've been on television before -- even national television -- but I've never been interviewed on a syndicated talk show, and I've certainly never been interviewed by a celebrity like Steve Harvey. I'm so thankful that Donte was with me. He kept me calm in the midst of a surreal experience!
Our flight took off at 12:45 p.m., and we touched down in Chicago about two hours later. I've never been to Chicago so I was excited to see the city -- even if only for a few hours! A driver was scheduled to pick us up from the airport so we waited around in the baggage area for a few minutes before locating the car and getting whisked downtown. I loved the drive through downtown. The buildings are tall, much taller than the buildings in D.C. Our hotel was in Magnificent Mile -- right in the middle of everything. Chicago is a great city.
I felt like a tourist, but I was always thinking about the big task at hand for the next day. I knew I had to do well, not for my own benefit, but for Generation Hope, our Scholars, teen parents everywhere, and the organizations that serve them.
Taste of Chicago...
Ok, not quite, but Donte and I decided to eat at the first Pizzeria UNO's (which we saw on a Food Network show recently), and to our surprise, our pizza tasted different from the regular UNO's restaurants. The original pizzeria was built in 1943, and it has retained its original charm.
After dinner, we walked what seemed like the entire city of Chicago. All through Lincoln Park, by the water, etc. We stopped in Old Town at The Pour House to watch Monday Night Football (a great distraction from the filming the next day), and then walked about an hour (yes -- an hour!) back to the hotel and turned in for the night.
In retrospect, there was really no way to fully prepare for the filming, but I tried! The next morning we walked to The Bongo Room for some delicious pancakes and then camped out at Starbucks for about an hour where I reviewed statistics to mention during the interview. Then, it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready before the limo arrived to take us to the NBC studios.
What it's really like
The NBC building was actually just around the corner from the hotel. Our driver dropped us off and after wandering the lobby area for a while not knowing if we should get in line with the people who purchased tickets to be in the audience, I called the producer, and she sent someone down to get us.
We learned that "Judge Mathis" is also filmed in that building. "The Steve Harvey Show" now occupies the neighboring studio. We were escorted to my green room (yes, we took a picture), and that's where we waited for the few hours before my segments were to be filmed. With that much time to kill, you would think we'd be bored or twiddling our thumbs, but it was busy! Producers were coming in and talking to me about the interview and the set and what to expect. Wardrobe people were reviewing my outfit and then taking me to hair and make up. Sometimes we just chatted with the crew and got a feel for what it's like to put on such a major production every day (it's A LOT of work).
Everything you see in the movies about going on stage for a show like this is true. I said goodbye to Donte (who would be watching me from back stage), and then I walked down the long hallway to the backstage door. People were putting last-minute touches on my make up and hair, checking my mic, asking me how I was feeling -- all at warp speed. When they opened the door to the back side of the set, more people did last-minute checks, and then one of the producers told me to step up onto the stairs and wait for Mr. Harvey to call my name. I could hear him making jokes and the nearly 200 people in the live audience laughing.
If I told you I wasn't nervous, I'd be lying. I was nervous. I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Then, I said a prayer, asking God to give me the peace to tell the Generation Hope story. Mr. Harvey called my name, and I stepped out onto the stage. The lights were intense and so was the welcome from the audience. I know all of the work and all of the wonderful people who helped to get Generation Hope to that point, and it made the moment that much more overwhelming.
I won't tell you the rest because I want you to tune in and see it for yourself! I'll do a follow-up post with the air date, but the best way to stay informed is to join our email list or to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
So many people recognize the wonderful work that Generation Hope is doing. Now Mr. Harvey is joining our great group of supporters. He thinks we're pretty amazing too.
UPDATE: The air date has been confirmed! Tune in this Thursday, October 25th on NBC or set your DVR! If you're in the Washington, D.C. area, the show begins at 2:00 p.m. Click here to find the time in other areas!
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