Interviews with the Cast
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Paige Hemmis on Faith and Helping Others
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Senior Producer
- Clad in her signature pink outfits, Paige Hemmis is a standout talent on ABC’s hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. An accomplished, self-taught carpenter, Hemmis has been remodeling derserving families’ homes with Ty Pennington, Michael Moloney, Tracy Huston and others ever since Season 1 aired back in 2004.
These years later, Hemmis enjoys going to work, helping to building dream homes for families across the United States. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition premiered last week with First Lady Michelle Obama helping with a building project in North Carolina. This season will also feature guests Glenn Close, David Archuleta, Dwight Howard, and more.
Recently, Paige Hemmis spoke with CBN.com about how faith comes into play on the set and the volunteer work she does off-camera. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
On attending Catholic school…
Paige Hemmis: I feel like it prepared me for the work that I do now. When I was in first grade, we got this assignment that we had to do 40 hours of community service before we graduated eighth grade. And I remember at the time thinking that, “Oh, my gosh, 40 hours! How am I ever going to do that?” That seemed like so long.
My mom helped me. We went out and we did things around the community. And I started getting hours, and I really liked the way it felt to be able to give back. Pretty soon I started giving more and more; and then I had well over my 40 hours. I had hundreds and hundreds of hours of community service. But I remember thinking in the beginning what a chore that was and towards the end thinking how good it made me feel to be able to give back. So, I love that I had that background in helping people. It was instilled in me from when I was a little girl.
On what makes Extreme Makeover Home Edition a good show to watch for families and for people of faith…
Hemmis: We’re in our ninth season now. [But when we started], reality shows were really about voting people off the island and backstabbing, and there was drama. Here we were with a show that we were going to try to do good for people, and we didn’t know how the public would accept it.
The biggest compliment that we get is when we’ve inspired people to do something in their own community. That’s a good testament to our show. You know, people are watching. They know the formula. They know what’s going to happen. It’s pretty much the same thing every week; yet people still really enjoy it because the families have just been through so much; and then the whole community comes together to make sure that they’re taken care of. We come through it with the community, and I think that inspires people to make a difference in their own homes.
On keeping the energy levels up on every project…
Hemmis: That’s a really good question because we are tired. But every place we go to it’s a new builder and it’s a new community, so we’re meeting all of these people who are taking a week off out of their lives to help us. Everybody who comes has a different story of why they’re helping us; and for us it’s very refreshing. They put on the blue T-shirts that week. They become our little angels, our little helpers; and it keeps it fresh for us. Because if it was just up to us, the 60 people that are on the road, we probably wouldn’t have made it past season two.
On how she’s managed depression and the emotional toll these shows take and the feeling on set each week…
Hemmis: We just try to keep it fun. Some are harder than others. We were just in Delaware during Hurricane Irene, and that was a tough one. All of our spirits were down, and we had to completely pack up and shut down in the middle of a build, which we’ve never had to do in nine years, and move everything, and stay in inland and hope that the house that we had just built wouldn’t be destroyed in the hurricane.
We had a tornado touch down like a mile from where the home was. That was one of those where you just have to band together and hope everything is going to be OK. Then, the next show, we went to Oregon, and it was beautiful weather, a great community. We just build off each other. When one of us is down or sad or is tired, the others are there that can pull you up. Then you meet wonderful people in the community that keep you going, as well. So, we’re very fortunate in that way.
On faith on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition…
Hemmis: It’s amazing. Every family that we’ve helped, everyone since we’ve started, has been very religious. A lot of times they’ve been a part of a prayer circle and praying for something to happen that we come and build them a house or give them the tools to help other people. It’s pretty amazing. I feel like we don’t highlight it very much on the show because it’s ABC, and we try to make everything mainstream. But it’s truly amazing to me how there’s this common theme going throughout the show. It seems like every person we help has had this amazing faith that something was going to happen and something was going to change to better their lives.
On staying in contact with the families Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has helped…
Hemmis: I keep in contact by emailing, calling them, and around Christmas and on the holidays we make sure that we stay in touch. So, it’s really nice. All the families, they affect the designers differently. I’m in touch with many of the families; and then I know each of the other designers have their favorites too, that they’ve been in touch with over the years.
On the charity work she does in her spare time…
Hemmis: I’m really active in Habitat for Humanity. We do that all over the country, and they invested all over the world.
Then, we try to help out in our own community. I live in the northern suburb of Los Angeles, so we try to help out as much as we can here in our own community with a lot of little known charities. Another one I’m really involved in too is the Starkey Hearing Foundation. They’ve been a part of our show for many years. I’ve actually become really good friends with the family who runs that. So we’ve done some missions around Los Angeles fitting kids with hearing aids. It’s pretty fun. This job has allowed me to meet so many great organizations that I get to help out with in my spare time, which is a little fun.
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Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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