Lynnwood third-grade teacher Jill Walzer got ambushed when she and two friends were in New York City over spring break.
It happened when she was in a puffer jacket and hat, looking very Northwest-y.
She was chosen from the audience April 6 at the “Today” show for an Ambush Makeover.
Walzer, 50, was plucked away from her friends and placed in the hands of hair and fashion experts.
She emerged several hours later wearing a colorful floral dress, dangling earrings, high heels and a shorter hairdo.
“You look exactly like Amal Clooney,” show host Kathie Lee Gifford said during the “reveal” of Walzer’s makeover.
Is there a bigger compliment than being told you look like George Clooney’s wife?
Walzer, who lives in north Seattle with her husband, Robert Mitchell, and children, Sofia, 18, and Owen, 12, wasn’t sure what she was walking into when she went on the show.
“I haven’t watched morning TV for 20 years,” said Walzer, who has taught at Lynndale Elementary for almost as long.
She described the behind-the-scenes action as “a lot of people moving back and forth. It was like an ant colony where everyone has a job. Everyone was nice and polite, but they are serious. It’s live television.”
In this role, she was the student, not the teacher.
“They gave us a lot of coaching of things to do to make it more exciting for the audience and tips for public speaking. They said, ‘Before you go out, put a big smile on your face because it relaxes you because it gives you endorphins,’” she said.
Another tip: Emote times 10. “Whatever you are really feeling, emote times 10 so the audience really senses it and feels it.”
“When I went out I was smiling and everybody smiled back. I didn’t feel nervous going out there. I felt like I was going out there to go see some friends.”
Her years in the classroom paid off.
“As a teacher you are used to being in front of people,” she said. “You compose yourself so you aren’t dumb-looking but look confident.”
She came back from the trip with more than a new dress (the brand, Adrianna Papell, is sold at Macy’s and Nordstrom). She had to give back the earrings and shoes.
“I feel like I’m game for new adventure,” she said. “It was a fun risk.”
Now she’s back to her corduroy skinny pants and sweaters.
“I’m not a glamour puss.”
Talk about the “Today” show and how it all went down.
My friends, Cassie Morton and Stacey Sateren, were in NYC to celebrate all of us turning 50 years old. I had reserved tickets for the “Today” show when we scheduled our trip. On Thursday morning, we left our hotel at 6:15 a.m. to join the audience at the show. It was an extremely rainy and cold morning.
We were there to represent Lynndale Elementary and we had a sign with our school name on it. The producers came out to the audience and tried to rev us up asking, “Who wants an Ambush Makeover?”
The first woman who was picked had a message on her sign asking for the makeover. I was half serious-half joking and said I would like a makeover because I had celebrated a landmark birthday. They asked to see my hair and told me they would cut/color it. At first I declined because I didn’t want to cut my hair. Then, 10 minutes later, they walked over to me and said, “We have picked you, follow us.”
I thought, “Why not?”
Hair grows back. This will be an adventure. And then the magic started.
How long did the makeover take?
About 2 ½ hours. We did a wardrobe change, haircut, hair color and makeup.
The makeover was a “blind” makeover. I didn’t have any choices nor any input. I had to trust my makeover experts. They covered all of the mirrors in the makeover room because they want the “reveal” of the makeover to be authentic.
My friends watched the show from the “Today” plaza and then were ushered into the green room for instructions and to get miked (and blindfolded) for the show. The makeover “reveal” was the first time they saw me since the early morning.
I was so happy to see them on stage. I felt more confident seeing them on stage with me.
Where did you go after?
After the show, I spent a few minutes removing the top layer of makeup. The makeup was great for television but too thick for visiting museums and taking the subway. Then, we quickly dashed off to a huge lunch because we were starving.
Has it changed the way you look and dress ?
The makeover has made me more conscience of using makeup to accentuate certain features but my favorite makeup accessory is still tinted lip balm.
How would you describe your style before?
My style before the makeover and after the makeover is preppy with a little bit of pop and bright colors mixed in.
What do your students say?
My students were so excited. They were telling me that I’m a celebrity now and famous. It was very fun. Other students in the school were excited to tell me that they saw all three of us (Cassie and Stacey, too) on TV.
Did you get to keep the dress?
They let me keep the fabulous dress and I wore it for Easter brunch. It was a hit.
If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
My dad. He passed away when I was 19 years old. I would love to tell him about my family, friends and career.
People would be shocked to know…
That I repaired bicycles for Nicaragua in Bath, England, with a volunteer program. I’m not a huge bike rider and I don’t think I can recall how to do any of the repairs that were necessary to prepare a bike for a new owner.
What is your most proud moment?
Watching my daughter graduate from high school. The ceremony was lovely and I think we all cried during the slideshow.
What are three things in your fridge?
Goat cheese, Beecher’s Cheese and Greek yogurt.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching “House Hunters International,” finding bargains when shopping and dark chocolate, of course.
Do you know someone we should get to know better? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 425-339-3443.
Heading to New York City? Here’s how to get tickets for the “Today” show, plaza concerts, tips for making signs, Rockefeller Center tours and links to nearby attractions. Go to www.visit.today.com.