Jillian Harris talks Extreme Makeover, her boyfriend, dad, and what’s next

Mark and Theresa talk with Jillian about Extreme Makeover, her boyfriend, working with her dad, Love it or List it, and why she’s like horse poop. Oh, yeah, she does.


Mark: You are back inside MyFixitUpLife. I’m joined by my wife, Theresa.

Theresa: My husband Mark.

Mark: We are joined by Extreme Makeover design team member, and maybe, I don’t use this word often, but maybe the cutest—

Theresa: Cutest?

Mark: Cutest.

Theresa: Really?

Mark: Most heartfelt person on that team, Jillian Harris. Jillian, how are you?

Jillian: Oh, you guys are so cute. I’m great. I flew in late last night but I rolled over and I said to my boyfriend, “Please tell me, please tell me, is it, is it 10:00 o’clock?”

He goes, “It’s five to 10.”

Jillian and her dad

I said, “Oh my goodness, I’m so happy I got to sleep in and I’ve got my interview with Mark and Theresa.

I’m actually just sitting in bed, waiting for someone to make coffee.

Theresa: That sounds fantastic. Why didn’t I get to do that, dear?

Mark: Coincidentally, so am I.

Theresa: I don’t think so. I think I got up at 5:30 and I think I had to make my own coffee.

Mark: Yes.

Theresa: Yes. Unfortunately. Not so much but I’m really excited about the Extreme Makeover Home Edition specials that are airing and the first one that you are on, on Monday night. You know, Mark was on that project, too, and he says that he actually made your dad bleed within like five minutes of meeting him.

Jillian: Oh yes. You know what? For anybody who watches the show, I don’t know if my dad will make it to air or not but we … okay, so first off, let’s set this up: we filmed the show last fall—or sorry, last winter, and it was to be a Thanksgiving special that would air this year.

For Christmas last year, knowing that it was going to be possibly one of my last Extreme Makeover episodes, I gave him a present with a hammer and there was a letter inside and it was the letter of the story of the Watson family.

Extreme Makeover team

My dad read the letter and he started crying and he said, “Would that mean the children dies?” Actually, I video-taped it so if you want to see the video, it’s on my website. And he looked up at my eyes and he said—there were tears in his eyes—and he said, “Well, Jillian, what is this? Who are these people?”

I said, “You’re going to be building them a house.”

He said, “What do you mean?”

I said, “You’re going to come with me to Knoxville and they’re going to help me build a house for this family.”

I’m going to start crying because he was crying and I was crying and it’s just so incredible, Mark and Theresa—the listeners don’t know, I’ve been a part of many episodes, and myself, I did about 12—being a part of a build like this is just the most life-changing—as cliché as it sounds—heart-warming thing you can do and to this day, my dad said it was the most incredible experience, he’s ever had.

Back to Mark’s question, my dad, yes, was there and I think my dad has a man-crush on Mark, so Theresa, you’d better watch out.

Theresa: Oh, my goodness. That’s great.

Mark: What I can say is that it was such a—except the blood part—was such an awesome experience because we rolled over from where you were staying to the job site and your dad’s telling stories in the van and I didn’t even know you were in it for awhile. Anyway, we get out of the van and I totally stalked you. I’m like, “Hey Jillian, it’s Mark from MyFixitUpLife.”

You’re like, “What are you doing here?”

I was helping out with the project management crew and then you turn around and say, “This is my dad. He wants to work.”

I said, “Well, does he want to work with me?”

He puts a big smile on his face and I can tell he’s a really tough guy and he’s standing. We’re like, “Yeah, let’s go.”

Long story short, someone dropped something on his head.

Jillian: Oh my god. Oh my god, this was … oh my god, this was the scariest time in my life because my dad, tough guy, runs an auto body shop, just like you said and he’s a DIYer. He’s just … he’s a guy just like you. Working away with Mark, I leave my dad in Mark’s hands, because I know he’s in good hands … and I come back about four house later and lo and behold, somebody dropped a freakin’ –I’m sorry [inaudible 00:04:32]—somebody had dropped a …

Mark: Nail gun.

Jillian: Nail gun! When my dad went to go look up to see what it was, the hard hat fell off. Thank god, it was the big, chunky part of the nail gun and not the sharp part because it just gave him a big, big huge goose bump and he didn’t have to get a stitch.

I realize now how parents must feel when their kids get hurt because you were there Mark, right? I lost my mind. I was crying. “Oh my god, dad.” I was actually crying. My dad’s fine.

Theresa: What was it like, though, working with your dad and bringing him to an Extreme Makeover? That whole experience of it and now that you can share it, are you going to watch it together?

Jillian: We won’t watch it together and you know what’s even sadder is, we won’t watch it together because we have I press conference in town here. Also, my mom is away in Hawaii. I’ll have to make sure that all my cousins go over to my parent’s place and that my dad has somebody to watch it with.

But it was pretty incredible, just bringing my dad to be able to see what I did for a living. He has always been so proud of me but to actually bring him and see firsthand and for him to meet all of my colleagues and the design team and the people that are a part of my everyday life on that show was just incredible. It really was such a great experience.

Mark: When you meet someone like the Watson family and you see the way they’re living, and then you see the possibility of the way they could live, especially with the amount of people they help, what goes through your mind to all of a sudden go from point A to bringing your design alive? What are the emotions? What happens?

Jillian and Justin

Jillian: I think the first thing is that … I will tell you first-hand. Am I generous and have a big heart? Absolutely. But somehow, we all only end up with 24-hours a day and somehow my 24-hours a day are always completely jam-packed. I’m always exhausted and I don’t have anybody else to take care of. I only have me.

You think about the Watson family, well, they have a family, they’ve got children, and not only do they have children but they’ve taken on the responsibility of bringing other people into their home and other people into their life. That single mother who needs help. You think about what kind of courage it takes, what kind of sacrifices you have to make, personal sacrifices, time. It is so commendable and I look up to that family and I think to myself, if I could just be 10% of what that family was, just 10%. If everybody could watch this show and just be 10% of what this family is, we would be living in Wonka land. It would be … life would be so different for everybody.

It sounds cliché but they are the true poster child for good people. It is how, I’m sure, God wanted us to be. To be that giving and to be the sacrifice for others who need it. To me, it becomes less about how pretty the room is going to be but more about injecting it with all the love that you possibly can to make it everything that those families need.

Theresa: Wow!

Mark: That is poetic the way you say that. On your website Jillian Harris.com, you have a line that stuck with me, that you love, lovely sayings. The only other person who could write a sentence like that and pull it off is Dr. Seuss.

Jillian: I’m a lot like Dr. Seuss. We’re both crazy!

Theresa: Oh my goodness. That is so funny.

Mark: “I love lovely things.” It in one fell swoop, says it all. Without being lame, so …

Jillian: Right Exactly. Right, right.

Theresa: For the minute that we have left, I want to know and I’m sure everybody else wants to know, what are you working on right now and where else can we see you after all these Extreme Makeover Home Edition specials air?

Jillian: Your listeners will really love this because my grandma says I’m like horse poop, I’m all over the place.

Mark: That’s what I was going to say Jillian but I didn’t want to bring it up.

Theresa: Dr. Seuss, horse poop, it’s the same thing, you know.

Jillian, Theresa, Mark

Jillian: Okay, lots of stuff going on. Right now, I’m working really hard on this campaign I do on my website every year called, Jill’s Favorite Things. It’s a lot like Oprah’s Favorite Things except for nobody’s getting a Cadillac. Every day, I give away one of my favorite things to my readers and so I’ve been working so hard on that. That starts December 7th.

January  7th, I actually am so excited because the premier of my new show, which is the Love It Or List It, Vancouver. Anybody who’s seen the show, Love It Or List It, it is the same franchise, it’s the same format, but we’re just featuring Vancouver. I’m getting the show ready for that.

Besides my website and the new show and a fabulous guy in my life, I’m just doing lovely.

Mark: That sounds great. Please say hi to your dad for us.

Jillian: I will.

Mark: Episodes on ABC of Extreme Makeover—

Theresa: Follow Jillian on Twitter because we do @JillianHarris—and we have to go to break.

Mark: We’ll be back with more of MyFixitUpLife.

Jillian: Bye you guys.


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