Norwegian Reality TV Show Brings Casting Call To Seattle | KUOW News and Information

Norwegian Reality TV Show Brings Casting Call To Seattle

Oct 20, 2015

They came from Bellingham and Poulsbo and Ballard. They're as young as 19 and as old as 75.

They're all at the ACT Theater in Seattle because they’re Norwegian Americans who want to be cast on the seventh season of “Alt For Norge” – a reality TV show whose name loosely translates as “Anything For Norway.”

It’s a two-time Norwegian Emmy winner, but its cast is all-American. On the show, 12 Norwegian Americans who've never been to the homeland face off in heritage competitions like cross-country skiing or Norwegian swearing.

The winner gets $50,000 and the chance to travel to their ancestral village and meet long-lost Norwegian relatives.

A Washingtonian has been on the show every year. But 2015 marks the show's first open casting call in Seattle. Joan and David O'Connor, the brother-and-sister team from O'Connor Casting Co., said the producers asked them to come here because "the viewers really respond to people from Seattle."

And why not? Seattle has a deep Scandinavian heritage, with Nordic-born people composing about 8 percent of the city's population in 1910.

Kate Mills drove three hours from Bellingham to this audition. She wore a Scandinavian style dress, carried a tote bag with the Norwegian flag on it and handed over a brochure describing all the reasons the producers should pick her.

Mills noted that she's a teacher and a mother, that she can dead lift a lot of weight.

David O'Connor catalogs three aspiring cast members. From left, artist Heidi Somes, actress Erica Opsvig and longshoreman Steven Brown.
Credit KUOW photo/Posey Gruener

And she said that she's passionate to rediscover her Norwegian heritage. For personal reasons.

"Unfortunately my mom passed away when I was 9, of cancer, and I never got to learn from her about the heritage.”

Mills told the O'Connors that now she has her own daughters, and traveling to Norway and meeting her relatives could give her the deeper connection she's looking for.

"I really want to meet Norway. And I think Norway should meet me," she said.

Afterward, the O'Connors reviewed some of the auditions.

"Kate," Joan O'Connor said. "Kate made me cry."

Joan O'Connor interviews Kate Mills, Tim Heidal, Christina Bogar and Kym Otte.
Credit KUOW photo/Posey Gruener

"She was good," agreed brother and business partner David O'Connor.

Joan O'Connor said she meets a lot of Norwegian Americans who've lost touch with their heritage. They tell her things like "when I was a kid I didn't listen to my parents stories" or "I didn't pay attention when they taught me the dances." They say they only realized how important it was when it was too late.

Joan O'Connor takes notes on a casting audition at ACT Theater in Seattle, October 18, 2015.
Credit KUOW photo/Posey Gruener

But she notes that Mills didn't even get the chance to learn about that heritage.

"I think that's what really got me,” O’Connor said. “She didn't have a choice. Now she has to go find it. And if she got to go on the show ... that would be powerful."

The O'Connor Casting Co. is still casting season seven of “Alt For Norge.” Applications are open online.