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The Carpenters union once again made a splash on the little screen this summer, as Local 328 member Cheryl Lieteau competed on season five of the CBS competition show “Tough as Nails.”
Lieteau was a good casting choice for the show. She has worked as a journey level carpenter, foreman and superintendent throughout her career, and as an instructor and coordinator with North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund. A Dudley, Massachusetts, resident, she’s currently an instructor with the Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program in Worcester and Boston.
Following her elimination as an individual competitor on the show, we had the chance to ask her a few questions about the experience.
Here are a few more of her reflections on the experience.
Reality TV, even competition-type shows, aren’t for everyone. Why did you want to be on “Tough As Nails”?
When I saw the types of challenges presented, I knew I had a chance. The contestants were regular working people, not highly trained athletes in peak condition. I also liked that some challenges were proportioned to the size or weight of the individual, which is important
What was it like behind the scenes? What was the schedule for living and shooting the show?
We shot 2 episodes a week and filmed every day. We were mic’d 100% of the time while on location but were not allowed to speak to fellow teammates when not being filmed. We were quarantined in our hotel rooms when not on location, so there was no socializing or sightseeing.
When it comes to relationships between participants, how much does what we see differ from your experience?
I think the portrayals of the relationships of the team members are fairly accurate. So much of the interactions did get edited out. But in general, I think they did a good job capturing each person.
There are a variety of trades and job-types represented on the show. How do you feel being a union carpenter gave you an advantage?
The primary advantage I had by being a union carpenter was my experience working with and leading teams.
What do you feel other participants learned about you?
They learned that my knowledge and experience matter more than my size
How about viewers?
Viewers got to see my authentic self. There are a lot of people who know me from interacting with me when I was an instructor and coordinator at the school. I am hoping that the show gives them much more insight into who I really am outside of those roles that were required of the job.
What has life been like since it was announced you were on the show and it started airing?
Not much has changed except I am on social media a lot more than usual. Occasionally a stranger recognizes me when I’m out.
Would you do it again?
If I had the chance to do the show again I most definitely would!
What would you tell someone that was interested in doing something like this?
Go for it! But remember it is called Tough as Nails. They will screen for physical, emotional and mental fortitude. The selection process is long and requires a commitment.
Season 5 of “Tough as Nails” aired on CBS affiliates and can be streamed–with a subscription on–Paramount +. Season Three of the show featured Lamar Hangar, a member of Local 714 in Southern California. Two UBC members from Southern California also participated in Season 4: Local 714’s Sergio Robles and Local 909 member Jorge Zavala, who won the competition!
Photo credit: Matt Barnes/CBS