Building Dreams
Guideposts|May 2020
You know her from DIY Network, HGTV and HomeAdvisor commercials. Find out how it all started with her church youth group
AMY MATTHEWS

I LOOKED AROUND THE OFFICE, waiting to audition. Of all the TV shows to be called for! Bathroom Renovations on the DIY Network. I was an actor, a trained opera singer, a musician. By now I’d played myriad roles in my career: from commercials, voice-overs, films, plays, operas, cruise ship entertainment…but no reality television. The producers were looking for a host, someone who could show people how to get it all done: redo the tile, fix the plumbing, paint the walls. An acting teacher in college once told us, “Your job is to audition. To show up. To give it your all. You won’t book every job you want, but you’ll book the jobs that are right for you.” I was a shower upper. I always brought my A game and left expectations at the door. But for some reason, this audition felt different. Is this job part of the bigger plan…?

That audition was a dozen years ago, here in Minneapolis. My home. The place I grew up. Did I say DIY? Well, yes, there was a bit of that in my background. My dad was an Army reservist and counselor. In his spare time, he liked fixing things around the house. The oldest of three daughters, I was always amazed at my Dad’s workroom and its plethora of tools. A room filled with wonder and potential. Whenever a plumber or electrician or carpenter would come in, Dad would ask a million questions, trying to figure out how he could do something himself.

When I was 10, our house was remodeled to make room for the five of us. A contractor came in and popped the roof off the house to add extra bedrooms and a bathroom. All-day long, I could hear the hammering and sawing. I loved to sneak a peek at the upstairs door and see only blue sky where the roof had been. A transformation in progress.

Downstairs, we girls made a fair amount of noise ourselves. Mom and Dad insisted that we take up a musical instrument and study it seriously. For me, it was the violin. I started sawing away at age three. My little sister, Sarah, also took up the violin, and Christine, the youngest, played the piano.

My violin skills grew. Music was my life. I considered it a career path. In junior high, I started singing as well. The lyric line of the violin and the smooth strength of the voice seemed one and the same. I was invited to do Christmas solos at church. I took voice lessons, and a new medium for artistic expression opened for me. This felt like home.

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