Ryan Johnson, Published November 18 2013
North Dakota casting call: Norwegian series seeks Season 5 contestants
“Alt for Norge” (“The Great Norway Adventure”) pits 12 Norwegian-Americans against each other, competing in challenges in Norway for the chance to win $50,000 and a meeting with Norwegian relatives they didn’t know they had.
Contestants face off in a variety of challenges ranging from the tame to the extreme, such as eating ram testicles or dog-sledding across the frozen tundra, to determine the season’s winner.
Dakota Gillespie, a rancher born and raised 10 miles south of York, N.D., became a contestant when his mother and aunt entered him in the second season’s casting call without his knowledge.
Then 21, Gillespie said his time in Norway – where about half of his ancestors had lived, while the other half of his blood is Swedish and Irish – left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I was kind of shocked by how unsociable everybody was,” he said. “It was a pretty fun experience, and it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. But at the same time, I don’t know if I’d ever go to Europe again.”
In North Dakota, those who share his blood ties to Norway are typically “pretty nice and polite,” he said, and willing to talk to strangers.
But in Norway, he said the people he saw wouldn’t go out of their way to meet him or even say hi.
Still, Gillespie said he enjoyed seeing the country’s famous fjords.
He was eliminated from the competition during the third of 10 episodes, when he lost a yarn-spinning challenge.
“I’m not the seamstress type, I guess,” he said.
“Alt for Norge” has proven to be a popular series in Norway, where it’s the No. 1 reality show. Anyone can apply to be a contestant, as long as they are Americans with at least some Norwegian ancestry who have never been to Norway. Applicants must be at least 18 by Feb. 16, 2014.
Though Gillespie has always enjoyed eating the lefse that his grandparents make, he said his experience on the show made it clear that he likes his home more than the country where his ancestors lived.
“I’m proud to be American,” he said.
Now 23, Gillespie did have some advice for others who may find themselves in his shoes if they make it onto the show.
“Be prepared to do anything,” he said. “They don’t give you much heads-up. You know what you’re going to do that day, but that’s it. You go to bed not knowing what’s going to happen.”
HOW TO APPLY
A national casting call for the fifth season of “Alt for Norge” (“The Great Norwegian Adventure”) is now being conducted by O’Connor Casting Company. To apply before the Jan. 5 deadline, visit http://oconnorcasting.tv/index.php/norway/
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587