May 31, 2007 12:01 AM by Joe Blackmon
Once upon a time there were 12 American women who wanted to be part of
a fairy tale – their dream: to be transformed into proper ladies of
society. And in season two of WE tv’s original series, AMERICAN
PRINCESS, one lucky winner will live happily ever after. Beginning
Sunday, August 19th at 10 PM ET & PT/9C, WE tv will transport these
“diamonds in the rough” to merry old England for an intensive “princess
bootcamp” where they will be trained in all things royal by top experts
in etiquette, grooming, presentation and aristocratic style. Hosted by
Yugoslavian royal and actress Catherine Oxenberg, each hour-long
episode will challenge the participants to learn what it takes to
become royalty. The winner will claim a British title, a dance with a
real European prince and $50,000 cash. Currently in production, the
second season of AMERICAN PRINCESS will consist of eight, one-hour
Assisting them in their crown-chasing efforts are Paul Burrell, author and former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, and Jean Broke-Smith ("American Princess” — Season One), one of the UK’s leading etiquette and grooming experts. According to Burrell: “Becoming a princess is a process, one that requires hard work, the will to succeed and an ability to take direction and often times, intense criticism.” He added: “This series gives us the chance to bring the My Fair Lady dream to life and make an immense contribution to these young women – one that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
Assisting Paul and Jean each week will be a guest judge and expert in his/her field. Judges include: renowned elocutionist Francis Wright; Provost Sergeant in the British Army, Tim Weston; noted Royal Correspondent James Whitaker; Deborah Bull, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet; and Jan Ward, head florist at Princess Anne’s wedding.
The participants will live in the lap of luxury at Debenham House, a private property in Holland Park, one of London’s premier residential neighborhoods. The 22,000 square foot estate will be a small taste of things to come for these lucky ladies– approached by a carriage drive and surrounded by gardens laid out in formal Dutch style, the home is on the UK’s statutory list of buildings that have special architectural or historical significance.
Each week, contestants will experience a rigorous, old-fashioned curriculum where they will be instructed in noble disciplines including posture, speech, dance, cricket, cooking, dining etiquette and media training. After each lesson, the participants will take part in an assortment of competitions that will most certainly test their newly-learned skills. The challenges, sure to unnerve even the most secure participants, include: hob-knobbing with foreign dignitaries and learning how to eat unfamiliar or difficult-to-eat foods; tackling a military-style obstacle course with a drill sergeant in tow; taking a ballet lesson in the Royal Opera House led by a former principal dancer; instruction in the art of cricket; a lesson in how to serve a formal English tea; and discovering how to entertain a room filled with blue-blooded aristocrats before sitting down to a formal dinner where their every move will be scrutinized.
The women will then be judged on how well they completed the tasks — winners are rewarded with the chance to attend royal functions, dine at top restaurants and tour London with some of Europe’s most eligible bachelors. Losers will be pushed to their limits with tasks that include cleaning a kitchen so that it passes the white glove test; stuffing hundreds of envelopes for a charity mailing; and learning the art of French polishing, an exhaustive wood finishing technique that involves carefully applying countless thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad. At the end of each episode, one or more unlucky contestants will be sent home. In the finale, the remaining women will attend a glittering ball with all the pomp and circumstance associated with royalty. It is at this event that the American Princess will be crowned.
The contestants, from all over the United States, include: Clarissa Santiago, an outgoing former beauty pageant contestant from Bronx, NY; Tara Zynel, an opera singer and introverted arts student from Pittsburgh, PA; Liz Rizza, a rapping college basketball player from Umpqua Valley, OR; Cassie Shea Watson, a theater major from Longview, TX; Danielle Sutterfield, a tree-hugging figure model from Arlington, TX; Crystal Rowe, a nanny and former foster child from Folsom, CA; Jasmine Espinal, a punk rocker from Orlando, FL; Kirsten Stiff, an energetic teacher who makes dog tutus in her spare time, from Sarasota, FL; Yvonka DeRidder, a bi-sexual Psychology student from Tampa, FL; Letosha Joshua, a former military sergeant from Chief City, FL; Felicia Flick, a bikini-wearing boxer from Homer City, PA; and Nakia Vestal, a former stripper from Baytown, TX.
Actress Catherine Oxenberg is the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. Through her grandmother, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, Ms. Oxenberg is also descended from Kings and Queens of Greece, England, Scandinavia and Czars of Russia. As an Ivy League educated model, Oxenberg’s face graced the covers of Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Interview. Best known for her role as “Dynasty’s” Amanda Carrington, Oxenberg currently stars in the MyNetwork TV series, “Watch Over Me.” Oxenberg is married to actor Casper Van Dien and lives in Malibu with their five children.
Paul Burrell is best known for his position as Royal Butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. Today, he is a regular contributor to a daytime UK TV show and is author of the book, In the Royal Manner. He recently created a line of “affordable luxury” wines called the Royal Butler collection, and is involved in several charities including raising funds for the landmines charity, a cause that was closest to Princess Diana’s heart.
Jean Broke-Smith is the queen of deportment, etiquette and posture. She was the principal of Lucie Clayton Finishing School in London for 30 years. She has trained many an “IT” girl in traditional etiquette and dealing with fame.