Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

Clearwater 'Project Runway' fan walks the TV show's runway

CLEARWATER — For 12 straight seasons, Andrea Fisher has religiously tuned in each week to Project Runway.

Comparing notes by phone with her mother in her native Buffalo, N.Y., Fisher marvels (and sometimes cringes) right along with the judges at the designs that the contestants are so artfully able to transfer from their imaginations to sketchbooks to the runway.

But even the most dedicated fan in the world couldn't answer certain questions: Is the runway really as long as it looks on TV? How tall is host Tim Gunn? And is the looming Mood Fabrics store as gush-inducing as contestants say?

No more wondering.

Fisher is one of eight women recently invited to take a behind-the-scenes peek and literally walk a mile in a supermodel's shoes during an episode dedicated to "super fans."

In a competition informally dubbed the "real women challenge," contestants took the fans' ideas and incorporated them into strut-worthy new looks that the fans modeled during the Sept. 19 airing.

"I was just too happy," said Fisher, 42, of Clearwater. "I was just cheesing through the whole thing."

The journey began this spring, when Fisher received a preseason email asking viewers to send audition videos explaining why they were the biggest fan and best candidate for a Project Runway/L'Oreal Paris makeover.

In June, a show rep called to say Fisher was a finalist. Three days later, her husband, daughters and niece saw her off to a six-day whirlwind of sightseeing, pampering and all-around "mini celebrity" treatment in New York City.

Fisher, a fashion-forward "diva" who "can take a $20 outfit and make it look like $100," works in accounts receivable at Duke Energy.

But for many years, she worked outdoors as a service technician at three different utility companies around the country, turning customers' natural gas on and off, repairing emergency leaks or gas appliances and operating backhoes.

So when contestant Alexander Pope asked Fisher what she didn't have in her wardrobe, "the first thing that came to me was I . . . have all the business clothes in the world — shirts, skirts, blouses — but I don't have a nice little power suit," she said.

Pope set out to create an earth-toned number with a tailored skirt and black colorblocking.

However, Pope was visibly distracted by an argument caught on camera with another contestant. He didn't complete the outfit and was nearly eliminated.

But Fisher said she wasn't bothered by the judges' critiques (which, she said, takes several hours more than the few minutes that are edited for TV) or Pope's placement in the bottom two.

Fisher said all of the contestants were so gracious. She was delighted to have survived her nerve-wrecking trek down the runway before the watchful eyes of the judges and studio crew. The experience turned surreal as Heidi Klum and the other judges she's watched countless times reached out to examine her outfit up close.

The super fans, she said, were oblivious to the contestants' drama, and in hindsight she would have chosen an easier garment to construct.

"They could've made me a paper bag and I would have been happy," said Fisher, adding that she loved the new haircut and makeup tips she received.

Fisher says she's now been bitten by the modeling bug.

"It's something I'll never forget in my whole life. It's something I want to show my grandkids," she said. "If I could do it all over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments

High school scoreboard for Feb. 23

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 2, Crystal River 0BaseballCalvary Christian 9, Countryside 2Northeast 15, Tarpon Springs 1
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida Capitol Republicans promise ‘complete investigation’ of what went wrong

Florida Capitol Republicans promise ‘complete investigation’ of what went wrong

TALLAHASSEE — A bombshell that South Florida police ignored tips that a teenager was planning an assault on a school and then failed to stop him when he attacked seems destined to complicate the election-year discussion around mass shootings.Even in ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance

WASHINGTON — A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

RUSKIN — Arthur D. Showley, 75, went fishing early Friday morning, something he did two or three times a week, friends said. When they saw his car and trailer still parked near a community boat ramp at 2 p.m., they thought that was strange."He never ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Here are the GOP’s responses to the Parkland massacre. Would any have worked?

Here are the GOP’s responses to the Parkland massacre. Would any have worked?

Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leadership in the Florida Legislature have rolled out their ideas for change in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But would these measures have made a difference in the worst mass...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA — A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Restricting bullets rather than guns might cut toll of school shootings, some experts say

Restricting bullets rather than guns might cut toll of school shootings, some experts say

This is the sad new math in the age of school slaughter.If one student comes to school with a firearm and 10 ammunition magazines filled with 30 bullets each, and another comes with a firearm and 30 magazines filled with 10 bullets each, who can crea...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Epilogue: Lee Davis, businessman and adventurer, survived many a scrape

Epilogue: Lee Davis, businessman and adventurer, survived many a scrape

TAMPA — Friends and family have a saying about Lee Thornton Davis Jr. Once you met him, even for just a moment, you knew him forever."He was the most outgoing person I’d ever met," Dick Greco said, which is something coming from Tampa’s gregarious, 8...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

The head of the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations into the way they report job placement figures says he has no intention of stepping down.That’s unless he is paid five months severance.In a letter from his attorn...
Updated: 6 hours ago
She’s taught at the Parkland high school for 14 years. Can she go back?

She’s taught at the Parkland high school for 14 years. Can she go back?

PARKLAND — She was afraid of what it would feel like, but she needed to know, so Melissa Falkowski pulled into the faculty parking lot. She took a deep breath in through her nose and climbed out of her car. She was back, in front of Marjory Stoneman ...
Updated: 7 hours ago