By Paula Hendrickson
You’ve probably seen NBC’s dramatic ads promoting survival expert Bear Gryll’s new summer series, Get Out Alive, but did you know one of the teams has local roots? The father-daughter team of Andrew “Lucky” Larson and Andrea “Louie” Larson hail from Stillman Valley (although Louie currently lives in Chicago), but this adventure took them across the globe to New Zealand.
Before the show debuts, “Louie,” took time to answer some questions about their experience.
Q: When and how did you find out about Get Out Alive, and what made you decide to apply for the show?
A: I heard about the GOA audition from a few faculty members from my alma matter, North Central College … one of them told me I HAD to take Lucky with me! Turns out, he was right! There is no one in the world I would rather be stranded in the wilderness with, and my dad agreed to come if only for a fun overnight in Chicago. Little did we know we were in for the adventure of a lifetime!
Q: Why did you feel you would be up to such a huge challenge?
A: Honestly, neither one of us ever in our wildest dreams thought we would be selected. We both thought the idea of surviving in the wild sounded like a fun adventure, and if there is one thing my father has taught me, it’s that you can do anything you put your mind to if you’re willing to laugh. With a smile and a song, all things are possible.
Q: What did you, as father and daughter, learn about one another from the experience?
A: Oh my golly, we learned so much about ourselves and each other. I have always had a tough time having the confidence in myself that he has in me, and this experience tested us physically, emotionally and mentally in such a way that I could not help not believing in myself. It is an amazing feeling to know that someone you love so much believes in you enough to pick up and take off for New Zealand to prove it to you!
My dad learned a lot about himself as well. I think the thing that stood out most to me was how much he missed my mom. They have been married for 32 years, and the time we spent in New Zealand is the longest they have been apart since they met. It was obvious that he had to learn to be himself (without her) again, and it was awesome to see him not only come into his own, but also keep that side of him that is so connected to her.
Q: How did your friends, family and neighbors react when they learned you were going to be on Get Out Alive?
A: Our family is VERY excited to be able to see our adventure on July 8. Turns out, my mom missed my dad every bit as much, if not more, than my dad missed her and was in tears to have him back. I had to wait a little longer to get a reunion with my boyfriend — he was on a cruise ship from November 2012 through May 6 of this year — but it was worth the wait! He was so excited to have me back that he recently proposed, and we are having a “falopement” — elopement with family — this July!
Q: Without giving anything away, what will you remember most about the experience?
A: Without a doubt, the aspect of the experience that had the most impact on both of us was how much we take for granted in day-to-day life. Just the little things — tooth brush, toilet paper, Ranch dressing — all these things that we assume will always be there suddenly were not, and it was both humbling and life-changing to remember how fortunate we truly are.
Get Out Alive premieres on NBC Monday, July 8, at 8 p.m.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the July 3-9, 2013, issue