Our 9 Favorite Mormon Moments on Reality TV


Mormons on reality TV is nothing new. From music to fashion, Latter-day Saints have showcased their talents across a variety of shows. Here are just 10 of our favorite Mormon moments on reality TV.

1. David Archuleta Reaches No. 2 Spot on American Idol

David Archuleta has been one of our favorites ever since his debut in American Idol’s 2008 season. Even though he ended in second place, behind David Cook, he will always be number one in our hearts.

Archuleta continues to live true to his high standards and integrity. At the time of his performances on American Idol, he was criticized for his values, in particular, his humility—skeptics thought it was an act. Immediately, David’s friends came to his defense. “People just didn’t understand how David could be shocked when the judges complimented him,” said Dean Kaelin, David’s voice coach. “People thought, ‘How could he not know how good he was?’ Not only does David have a beautiful voice, he is just a good, good kid. That was a shock to America. People couldn’t accept that he was just a humble kid.”

From the good old times, here is one of David Archuleta’s performances on American Idol:

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American Idol S7- David Archuleta - Angels

Hear David's music all the time with his Other Side of Down CD!

Other Side Of Down includes a sequence of pop tracks that intertwine contemporary sounds and genuine lyrics. The first single "Something 'Bout Love" is an up-tempo track produced by Sam & Sluggo. The fun loving beat is coupled with the meaningful and optimistic message that there is "something 'bout love that breaks your heart, but [you] don't give up." Available at Deseret Book stores or on deseretbook.com.

2. LDS Couple's Playhouse Masters Features Stephen Curry and His Daughter

For Tyson and Audy Leavitt, hosting Playhouse Masters has been one interesting adventure, but one that has built their testimony and strengthened their faith. One of our favorite memories of them took place when they were commissioned to build a playhouse for the daughter of NBA star Stephen Curry.

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Steph Curry's Daughter, Riley, Gets Playhouse of Her Dreams

When talking about the experience of hosting the show, Audy bore her testimony of God and His grace:

“It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I have doubted everything about myself along the way, including my health, my appearance, my likeability. I have left my beloved job as a stay-at-home mom to become a reality TV show host. I have felt inadequate, guilty, self-conscious, exhausted, and more out-of-place than I ever have before.
“But I have also never doubted God's plan for me since He reminded me that I am, ‘Not of them who draw back.’ I have learned so much about God's tender mercies, His Grace, and just how sure His promise is to prepare a way when we try our best to accomplish what He asks of us.
“I don't know the whole design of His plan in regards to our business and our show, but I do feel like there is a greater purpose than playhouses and television and I look forward to finding out what it is. One thing I know is that we can put all of our faith and trust in God. If we follow His promptings and move forward in His direction, He will provide the means and the way to get to His final destination. I can't wait to see where it takes us.”

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Pony Stable Playhouse for the Currys (360 Video)

3. David and Connor O'Leary Win The Amazing Race

Competing on The Amazing Race was a dream come true for Connor O’Leary and his father, Dave. The father-son team were strong competitors after they first beat Dave’s prostate cancer and Connor’s testicular cancer. “From the outset,” says Connor, “we wanted to race, hold our integrity, and show our true character, which is what you do in everyday life.” But theirs was a dream cut short. Like their LDS predecessors on the show (Lena and Kristy Jensen, who were eliminated early in Race 6 in a challenge that came down to luck), the O’Learys also went home early after Dave tore his Achilles tendon in Leg 2. “That,” Dave says, “at least mentally, put an end to the Amazing Race for us.”

Though the pair did continue for another two legs with Dave on crutches, they were forced to withdraw at the start of Leg 5 so that Dave could get surgery to repair the injury. It seemed their brief Amazing Race dream was over until about a year later, when the phone rang. Dave recalls, “A Race representative started asking me how my Achilles was and how my rehab went. I thought, ‘Boy, this is really nice! They care enough about me to check in and see how I’m doing!’” But the conversation took a turn. “Then the questions got a lot more specific, and the guy who I was speaking with said, ‘Do you have a sense of where this is going?’ And I said, ‘Yes, and we’re in!’”

Just like that, the father-son team was back on the show, one year older and wiser, too. And this time, they wouldn’t have to withdraw. This time, they would win leg after leg and prizes like trips around the world and a 2015 Mustang for each of them. And these two cancer survivors would even make it all the way to the end and claim the $1 million prize.

“For me,” shares Dave, “it was the most satisfying moment of my life to be able to be there with my son, recognizing what he has gone through from a health standpoint. To be on that mat was truly surreal.” Connor adds, “It was an amazing experience to be able to win with my dad and to be the first parent-child team to win was pretty special.”

In fact, in their record-setting run, in addition to being the first parent-child duo to win, the O’Learys also became the first Utahan and Mormon winners. At age 59, Dave was also the oldest winner ever with Connor, age 22, tied for the youngest winner ever. They split the prize money from the show, which they plan to invest and donate to cancer research. Reflecting on their roller coaster experience, Dave reveals, “I never really believed we could get there. I didn’t! I thought, we’ll give it our best shot. We’ll have fun in the process.” He adds, “We recognize it’s a game. We recognize it’s not life. But it was a pretty fun thing to do!”

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► Read more about the O'Learys in 18 Mormons on Reality TV Who Stood for Their Standards

4. Madilyn Paige Voice Battles with Tanner James

It wasn’t until season six of NBC’s The Voice, which aired in early 2014, that an LDS singer made a mark on the show. Madilyn Paige sang her heart out for the judges and was the first Latter-day Saint to make it all the way through to the playoff round before being eliminated.

Recalling her experience, she shares, “A lot of the contestants smoked and drank, and I decided not to participate in that. Also, I had to let the wardrobe people know my standards and what I would or would not wear. And luckily, they were really understanding, but I definitely had to set my boundaries.”

Here is the incredible moment when she sang “Everything Has Changed,” by Taylor Swift in the voice battle with Tanner James:

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Madilyn Paige vs Tanner James (Team Usher) - The Voice 2014

This stunning self-titled debut EPfeatures a set of tunes notable for their raw emotion and beautiful soundscapes. Madilyn wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, drawing from her own struggles as a teenager and her heartfelt expressions of the joy she finds in life. The first track, "Irreplaceable," begins with aching introspection and soars to an assurance of self-worth; the following track, "Foolish Game," was written right after Madilyn left the TV show The Voice and gives insight into the inevitability of discouragement in life and the realization that you can rise above the games that people play. An epic movie score string section combines with powerful rhythms on "Undercover," a breathtaking song about overcoming sadness and seeking the light all around you. The final track, "Little Things," playfully reminds us that the little things in life are the source of true joy. Available at Deseret Book stores or on deseretbook.com.

5. Lindsey Stirling Original and Comeback Performances on America’s Got Talent

Lindsey Stirling made her debut on the show America’s Got Talent in 2010. Stirling, who was voted off the show in the quarterfinals, quickly turned any disappointment into determination to improve. She has since found phenomenal success thanks to YouTube and continues to thrive, giving sold-out shows around the world. She was invited back as a special musical guest during the 2014 season where she performed “Shatter Me,” a song from her recent album.

Here are those two performances:

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Lindsey Stirling America's Got Talent
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Lindsey Stirling & Lzzy Hale AGT America's Got Talent - Shatter Me 2014 + Pre-show Interview

A classically trained violinist from Gilbert, AZ, Lindsey Stirling has entered a futurist world of electronic big beats and animation, leaping through the music industry with over 675 million views on YouTube, Billboard chart-topping hits, and sold-out tours worldwide. Raised in Arizona, Lindsey studied classical music rigorously as a teenager. Lindsey’s love for the violin would not let go, and it became a comfort throughout her struggle with an eating disorder during her early adulthood. Through this passion, Lindsey has created a new music world where the romance of Celtic folk music and modern classical meet the infectious energy of dance and electronica. A motivational speaker in her spare time, Stirling uses her own story to show teenagers that you’ve got to have confidence in the very thing that makes you unique—then wait for the world to catch up. Available at Deseret Book stores or on deseretbook.com.

6. Donny Osmond Wins Dancing With The Stars

We've loved watching the Osmonds in all their forms of talent for a long time. Watch Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson in season 9 of Dancing With The Stars show off their moves as they got all 9's from the judges in this performance, and were well their way to beat Donny's sister Marie!

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Donny Osmond & Kym Johnson - Jitterbug

7. Teenage Girl’s Fashion Gets Her to Project Runway Junior

Allie Lunt recently competed on the reality TV show Project Runway Junior and made it all the way to the sixth challenge before being eliminated.

Lunt attributes her success in the fashion world at such a young age to her faith. "My religion is an important part of who I am and everything I do," Lunt says. "I want the women I design for to feel beautiful—and not to just feel like they are wearing a beautiful dress—but I want them to feel as beautiful as God has created them to be. God creates beautiful things, and I want to recognize the talent He gave me by using it to also create things that are beautiful."

But co-host Tim Gunn left Lunt with these sweet words: “Just as important to me as your talent, which is exceptional, you are an amazing individual with beautiful qualities of character. I’m going to miss that part of you.”

That quality was something Lunt's fellow competitors couldn't help but notice as they became what Lunt describes as "instant family."

When Lunt learned one of the other designers was familiar with Mormons, she decided to share her faith. "I knew if anything was coming, I could take it. Yet there was no need. Everyone treated me with the same respect as they always had, and even began asking questions. I was able to share what I believe and answer the questions they had. One of the other designers even commented, 'You know, I don't really go to church anymore, but your religion really seems to work for you.' I could tell from the way they said it that they really respected me for who I was, and knew that I wasn't afraid to share what I believe."

I loved my dress!!! I think my sketch really captured the beautiful @bella.jay ❤! Why do we have to wait a whole week until the next episode?!😞#designerallie #projectrunwayjunior #projectrunway #teendesigner A photo posted by Allie Lunt (@allie_lunt) on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:54pm PST

My look from the second challenge, An Unconventional Pool Party! So glad I was able to finish - the back of the shirt was a mess because I burned my hands really bad with the hot glue guns😓 it was so bad that Tim had to call the medic over. Glad that's over!😅Can't wait for next week's challenge!!! 😂😜 #designerallie #projectrunwayjunior #projectrunway #unconventional #unconventionalpoolparty A photo posted by Allie Lunt (@allie_lunt) on Dec 30, 2016 at 4:26pm PST

8. Ellen DeGeneres Features Gardner Family of Quadruplets

At the beginning of the year, Ashley Gardner posted a video of herself hiding in the pantry, saying, "Dad is out shoveling the driveway. Mom desperately needed a treat to get through the rest of the night. So I'm hiding in the pantry, eating a treat. Is that wrong?"

This 34-second snippet, that ends with one of Gardner's quadruplets peeking under the door, quickly went viral as parents all over the world identified with this young mother and her struggles.

The parents of quadruplets, Ashley and Tyson Gardner initially didn't know if they would be able to have children. But, after in vitro fertilization, the Gardners suddenly found themselves expecting four children.

Because of their struggles as well as the current craziness they experience as the parents of four toddlers, Ellen decided to give the Gardners a few epic surprises: a portable closet that Ashley can escape to whenever she needs and a much-needed vacation—a family trip to Hawaii!

9. Trick Shot Titus on "Little Big Shots" and "Jimmy Kimmel"

All-star Titus Ashby has been a YouTube sensation since he was 2 years old. It was at that age that he took on Shaquille O'Neal on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

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At 3 years old, Titus took on and conquered both Bradley Cooper and Channing Tatum. Then at 4 years old, he impressed Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres with his Basketball shooting skills on "Little Big Shots".

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This Little Big Shot Shoots and Scores
Lead images from lehighvalleylive.comtvguide.com, billboard.com, and ldsliving.com

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