TIME TO SHINE!
Wilsonville resident Gaelle Strusinski remembers the moment she was selected as a contestant on the CBS game show "Let's Make a Deal" vividly.
As she tells it, host Wayne Brady was surveying the crowd with his finger pointed outward. And as he was about to select someone else, he noticed Strusinski and her flamboyant "Star-berry" costume. So he waved his finger toward her and asked her to take the stage.
In that moment, Strusinski, who typically wears her emotions on her sleeve, was especially ecstatic.
"I just about screamed in that poor man's face," Strusinski says.
The moment may have been particularly overwhelming because Strusinski has enjoyed watching game shows, especially those hosted by Brady, for many years.
She recalls watching the BBC version of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" before being introduced to Brady in the American iteration.
"He's intelligent and extremely witty," Strusinski says of Brady. "He can deliver an insult and make you appreciate it. He is someone who is truly personable, has great charisma that he gives off onscreen and offscreen."
Now, Strusinski watches Brady on "Let's Make a Deal" habitually, enjoying the show for the positive atmosphere and banter between Brady and co-host Jonathan Mangum.
"I love how it gives common, everyday people the ability to win something," Strusinski says. "You're in a room with people who all they're giving off is positive energy. They're happy; they're excited. The audience is involved consistently."
The premise of the long-running show requires chosen audience members to "trade" with the show's host for unseen prizes. The comedy occurs when traders receive booby prizes or have extreme reactions to winning good prizes.
One day, an acquaintance of Strusinski's told her she was going to fly out to Los Angeles to be an audience member on the show and wanted costume suggestions (each member of the audience wears a costume on the show). She then offered Strusinski a ticket to join her.
Strusinski flew out to Hollywood simply expecting to soak in the experience from the crowd. However, she wanted to give herself the best chance of being selected as a contestant, so she decided to wear a bright red
costume that resembles a straw-
"I was in my Diana Ross, shimmery, bright costume and I altered it a bit and I looked like a strawberry," she says. "To me that was hilarious."
Strusinski believes she was selected in part because of the costume but also because she oozed enthusiasm.
"I do these weird squeaky noises. I don't hide my emotions. I get super-excited," Strusinski says. "You could see it throughout the whole show. I'm just buzzing and can't stop moving because I'm super-excited."
Strusinski told the Spokesman she was restricted from revealing how well she did on the game show prior to the Jan. 14 broadcast. However, she says she was unafraid to explain her reasoning behind decisions on stage and that, in retrospect, she could have done better.
"There was a choice that I feel is more clear in reflection. I was nervous so I didn't take that route," Strusinski says. "I felt like the path I could have taken could have been different but either way I'm super-happy and appreciative I was given the opportunity to be a contestant."
Not to mention, Strusinski lived out her dream of meeting Brady and even got into a discussion with him — where she learned an interesting fact: Brady's daughter has the same birthday as her.
"And I was like 'No wonder we jive,'" Strusinski says. "In my head we got along well and in his head he was probably like 'You're just gonna disappear in a few minutes.'"
Even with her family, Strusinski was mum about her performance heading into the airing and was excited to share it with them when it's broadcast.
"I want to be like, 'Hey you guys. Guess who I met?' I can't even tell them that," she says.
Strusinski views her time on "Let's Make A Deal" as an immeasurably positive experience and recommends anyone with the game show itch to follow in her footsteps.
"I feel like if anyone has the chance they need to do it," Strusinski says. "I'm all about experiencing life and even being an audience member if you don't get the opportunity to be a contestant is so fun. Why wouldn't you want to?"