09 November, 2011

Brunch with Becky Ross

My friend, Pencil Girl and I met with Becky Ross last Sunday. Becky was candid about what went on behind the scenes during production of season 9 of Project Runway.

Becky lives and works here in Portland, Oregon and she was a total delight to meet.

Six weeks of taping this summer to create season 9 involved a huge amount of sitting and standing around. Contestants stand at attention on the runway awaiting scathing comments from judges; Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum. The judging which takes a few edited minutes on your home screen takes 5 - 6 hours on the set. Judges confer with the guest judge; all is conferred with the producers who have their own agenda and finally, contestants who have been sitting in the lounge area - waiting- are called back out to hear the final verdict.

Even if you get voted off, you must stay until the end. While the others are battling it out in the workroom, the voted off people hang out in the break room or lounge. It all leads to serious boredom. Becky finally had enough of reading and crossword puzzles and asked for a barbie doll which she proceeded to make outfits for. She dressed them up as contestants, Bryce Black,  production assistants (PA's) or whoever asked for one that looked just like them. This led to a rumor that Becky was making voodoo dolls of cast members.

When contestants arrive in New York, their personal belongings are given a thorough search for contraband. Their wallets are secured and contestants are without phones, internet, e-mail, credit cards or even cash for the entire six weeks. If you needed a candy bar at midnight, you had to phone a PA to get one for you. Becky confessed to a new love of Red Bull drinks and other caffeinated/taurinated drinks in order to withstand the grueling pace.

Contestants had to buy new supplies for every challenge. They could keep tools - like rulers and scissors but not supplies (pins, needles, interfacings) - in an attempt to level the playing field. At Mood they had the allotted time to find fabrics, notions(supplies) and once time was called had to get in line to pay. Hopefully, back in the workroom, found you with the kind of supplies to execute something to put on the runway. You could have any amount of fabrics cut but could only take with you up to the allotted $$ amount.

Challenges were taped back to back. Literally --4 to 6 hours of sleep each night. They struggled until midnight and then came back early the next morning to finish for the runway show. Finishing one challenge, they were greeted with another the next morning. Non-stop. Weekly shows were taped two or three to a week. She said it was a relief in some ways to get voted off because she slept for two days straight.

This is a reality show so any drama induced by the contestants gets a bit of film time. The episode when Josh goes ballistic over Becky's role in the group challenge painted Josh as manipulative and antagonistic. Becky thought he was plain mean. That day started with Becky waking up sick and wanting to throw up. When Becky was well enough to leave the bathroom, Heidi announced the athletic wear challenge. --Where they had to run a lap around the track. --Where Becky got paired up with Josh and Laura and they basically told Becky to just sew. She wasn't there to add design input.

In a cosmic trade-off, contestants were not paid for their time, nor were their mortgages/leases paid while they were gone. The trade-off was the possibility of jump-starting your career and riding the five minutes of fame exposure. Even though Becky got voted off , she now has at least 43 possible career moves.

Becky wants to design for the average woman who is 5'4 and wears a 14-16 size. She wants to be an image consultant because she believes every woman can and should look their best.

She is an excellent seamstress who has really good design ideas for the Pacific Northwest woman.
She is every bit as forthright as she appeared on the show. She tells it how it is. She received quite a bit of air time because of that forthrightness and is reaping the benefit of that now with potential contracts. People really liked what she had to say.

Becky came across as thoughtful about her recent tv experience and where it would lead her. She has an innate sense of humor to be able to look back on events and find the positive aspects and how the experience will help her in the future.

 The brunch was held at Portland Sewing in Portland.


  1. How exciting! Becky sounds like a true Oregonian. Can't wait to see what kinds of clothes she makes for us regular folks!

  2. Hi! That must have been exiting to meet her! I have seen only one season and would like to see more of them.
    Your doll bed is going to be wonderful!
    x Teje

  3. What a great post. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I loved Becky on the show and was rooting for her being a former Portlander myself. So neat you could spend time getting to know her. PS: Thanks for your vote on the fabric. It looks like the orange and blue is in the lead. While it has been sunny here in Maui, we have also been getting a good bit of rain upcountry. I'm not complaining. I love the rain.


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