Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Interview: Leigh Anne Tuohy Changing Our Community

This season Extreme Makeover: Home Edition teams up with a woman well known and immortalized for her generosity and giving spirit. No, we’re not talking about Oprah. Leigh Anne Tuohy, the heart and driving spirit behind the Academy Award winning movie The Blind Side joins Extreme Makeover in its eighth season as interior designer to the families who touch our hearts every week. In an interview with Tuohy, the designer talks what makes Extreme Makeover amazing, why she decided to do the show, and how Makeover makes her family grow.

Keshaunta Moton for Poptimal.com: Why did you decide to join Extreme Makeover?
Leigh Anne Tuohy: The show really meshes with our family. It’s amazing what they do. We got offered all kinds of reality TV shows to go on and this one really is what it is, they do what they say they do and they go in and make a difference to the community. When I was asked to be a part of it, I said, ‘absolutely.’ It is a great experience.

Poptimal: Did you watch the show before joining?
Tuohy: Yes, I did. I usually caught it every couple of weeks. Sunday night we’re all tied up, we go to all of Michael’s football games and the NFL’s on Sundays. That’s why we TiVo it.

Poptimal: You said you guys were offered a couple of reality shows, can you talk about those?
Tuohy: Secret Millionaire, Strictest Parent, you name them and they offered us to participate in them. Those just really weren’t in the wheelhouse of what we were doing or what we wanted to promote. We really tried to sit down and we need to corral, we knew that we can’t be all things to all people. We need to figure out where we’re going from here, what is going to be our platform we really want to make a difference in. It’s really in changing one life at a time and we feel like that’s what Extreme Makeover does.

Poptimal: As a person well known for, at the very least extreme generosity, how does it feel for you personally to be involved with the show?
Tuohy: Every episode I’m amazed at what we do. When I wake up I’m going, ‘I can’t wait to get out there and see what we do this day.’ It’s amazing. Even the people, the volunteers, that come to work on this, I feel like when they leave the show they are energized to go and make a difference. The show touches so many lives, we go in to do a house, we meet everybody on the street and we get to know the community. We always do a project in the community; it literally has a ripple effect. Not only do we end up helping just the family, we end up helping everything that’s surrounding and involved with them. The generosity level of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to me is always so much greater than what you see for that one hour on Sunday night.

Poptimal: And how does it feel for you to be involved with the families that you guys help?
Tuohy: That’s always life changing for me because there’s always a situation or incident that we’re trying to help the family with. It’s always so touching and so moving. I just want to adopt all of them. I leave there with all these new friends and the Christmas card list grows, and the birthday list grows because when I meet somebody I don’t let go of you easily. So, I really have all these new friends when I leave the set… they really become a part of who I am, and a part of my family.

Poptimal: Can you tell us about any particular family or story that has had a special significance to you?
Tuohy: The initial episode I did was the Williams family, a family in Georgia. He was a high school coach, and a lot of the NFL players that I do design work for participated in that show. He [Williams] had ALS, it’s a horrific disease, and he was a dad that played high school football, he played college football and to just see someone like that go down so quickly with ALS was really hard.

Poptimal: As well as the movie The Blind Side, your family’s story has been told in a book that you and your husband, Sean, wrote. What do you think needed to be told that viewers watching the movie might not get?
Tuohy: We got so much correspondence, thousands and thousands of letters, letters got sent to our colleges and our churches, e-mails and phone calls. People wanted to know how did you get your kids to be givers and how did you do this. In a Heartbeat is really a book about our history; all three of our kids write a chapter of the book themselves, SJ [Sean Jr.] wrote 100% of his chapter unassisted, by himself. Sandra Bullock has a chapter, Tim McGraw has a chapter. It’s really a look at who we are.

You can find out more about the families and designers as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition returns for its 8th season this Sunday, April 17th on ABC at 8/7c.

Photo courtesy of Bob D’Amico and ABC

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