Friday night, tune in to cheer on an LGBTQ advocate facing a completely new set of challenges with the help and support of her family.
GLAAD Media Institute alum Jan Eastman and her family are competing to complete the challenges and puzzles ahead of them in the season finale Nickelodeon’s The Crystal Maze, a game show that brings entire families through a series of challenges, encourages teamwork, and mutual support. Maze Master Adam Conover takes families on an adventure of a lifetime across themed zones for physical and mental games that earn crystals in return for time in the exciting Crystal Dome and a chance to win the $25,000 grand prize!
Jan is a nurse, advocating for equality for LGBTQ in health care. She participated in the GLAAD Media Institute’s course, Engagement 101: Telling Your Story: Messaging and Media Tools for Today’s Activist in 2018. In The Crystal Maze season finale, Jan, her wife Samantha, and their three children, Asher, Ezra, and Talya, will communicate, encourage each other, shake off setbacks, and celebrate their victories.
“Jan has been a leading voice on LGBTQ health care, applying what she’s learned with the GLAAD Media Institute to in the context of her career,” said Ross Murray, Senior Director of the GLAAD Media Institute. “It’s a delight to see her as a wife and mother, competing with her family. She and her wife are demonstrating how families LGBTQ communicate, encourage each other, and have a lot of fun in the process.”
Check out this exclusive clip, as Ezra tests his balance and focus, while his whole family encourages him.
We caught up with Jan to talk about her family’s experience on The Crystal Maze, as well as overall LGBTQ representation on television.
How did you learn about the show? What was the audition process like?
We learned about the show from a casting agent who reached out to us because they were specifically looking for an LGBTQ-headed family, in addition to a lot of other diverse families and family structures. When we received the email, we immediately responded. The audition process was intense, starting with Skype interviews with puzzles to solve and moving to an in person interview where we completed some challenges as a family. We found out that we would be cast in July, and then flew to London in August to film!
What were the challenges for your family? What skills do you bring to meet those challenges?
The show worked very hard in the audition process to determine what skills we each had that we could bring to the game. Ultimately, on the day of competition, it was up to our Team Captain, 9 year-old Talya, to select which family member would be ideal for each of the eight challenges that we faced. We are a very puzzle-oriented family and we really like competition, so I hoped we would all bring our A game! I was so impressed at the way that my kids focused on their goals and stayed positive throughout the long filming day!
Did you feel any pressure to represent the LGBTQ community well, even while competing in challenges?
I always see part of my role and responsibility as trying to represent the LGBTQ+ community well, and this was no exception. I wanted to show that we are a family like many other families, who works together well most of the time and then has challenges other times. There is always a feeling in the back of my head of wanting to prove that my family is just as worthy and successful as any other! You’ll have to watch and see if things went our way or not! 😉
What do you hope people learn about your family through watching The Crystal Maze?
I hope that people learn that we are a fun-loving family, who is not without our own struggles but who ultimately brings together a diverse set of strengths so that we can all lift each other up. That goes for life AND for The Crystal Maze!
There has been increasing LGBTQ representation in children and family programming. What does it feel like to be a part of that early wave?
I give Nickelodeon and other networks who specifically reach out to LGBTQ+-headed families a lot of credit. It takes someone sitting in that room and making a point that families like ours should be represented, to make that happen. I especially realize that for family networks such as Nickelodeon that they may receive pushback when they do this, but it’s still worth doing! Representation matters!
The GLAAD Media Institute is offering virtual courses and workshops to activists and advocates around the country, and world, in the weeks to come. Click here to learn more about how to join a course or workshop and use your voice as a GLAAD Media Institute alum.