Former U.P. resident on new reality show
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A former Upper Peninsula resident and miner from Juneau, Alaska, is starring in a new reality show airing this month on Discovery Channel.
Kellie Nightlinger stars June 23 with Erroll James Snyder in the first episode of “Naked and Afraid” on Discovery.
The episode condenses the 21 days the pair spent in the wilderness of Tanzania in Africa. Each of the five remaining shows in the first season feature a different pair.
The producers found Nightlinger over the Internet. In the past 14 months, the 39-year-old woman has interviewed for 14 other outdoor reality shows.
“Of course not all of them come to fruition. They’re production companies trying to find their niche,” she said. “There aren’t that many woman that are into this, so I get contacted a lot.”
Nightlinger is a former conservation officer from Naubinway in the Upper Peninsula’s Mackinac County. She worked as a miner at Greens Creek before being offered the reality series job. She quit the mining job and now works as a guide at Gastineau Guiding.
Tanzania has a tropical climate and sparse foliage – at least, none that could be made into clothing. That’s the challenge Nightlinger and Snyder faced when they were left stranded, naked in the wilderness. That’s the premise of the series.
“The show originated with more of an ‘Adam and Eve’ thought process and going back to this primitive survival – if people could make it in a tough environment with nothing,” said Jay Renfroe, one of the executive producers.
Renfroe teamed with Steve Rankin, who worked on the Bear Grylls show “Man vs. Wild,” to work on “Naked and Afraid.”
Nightlinger figured that after all the other shows she interviewed for, this would be the one she was picked for.
“All the other things I was potentially interviewing for were much more subdued and subtle and basic,” Nightlinger said. “I was like, ‘Watch, this will be the one I get picked for.’ “
A lot of strategic editing went into the episode.
“It was difficult for them in Africa to find the materials to clothe themselves,” Renfroe said. “Some of the other cast members are in environments where it’s easier to find leaves and things like that to clothe themselves.”
Everything was covered with thorns in the Serengeti.
“There was absolutely nothing they could utilize to make any form of clothing, which added to the challenge of their vulnerability at the time,” Rankin said.