Canada’s Queen of R&B, Jully Black, and her friend Kathy Hunter, may have had a short stint on The Amazing Race Canada, being eliminated in the first episode as they travelled from Mont-Tremblant, Que., to Montreal, but Black revealed she initially didn't even want to be a racer on the show.
“I had no interest at all,” Black told Yahoo Canada. “I was offered an opportunity to be on the show, to be fully transparent, so it was up to me to say yes or no.”
“Now, I would do it again and again and again. After you’ve done it, you're like ‘oh man, I should have signed up earlier in my life when my knees weren’t so worn out from all that twerking.”
Even thought the iconic singer/actor/producer had some reservations, her teammate was incredible excited about participating.
“I was inspired by the inspiration and direction of the one, the only Ms. Jully Black,” Hunter added. “She didn't even know that this was a lifelong dream of mine.”
“I've always loved this show and Jully's in a bunch of different spaces, theatre and acting and so many things, and she got tapped on the shoulder about the opportunity and then tapped me.”
So what made Black ultimately choose Hunter as her teammate? While they are friends who were racing in memory of their late mothers, there was also a tactical element for Black, heavily influenced by the possibility of eating bugs.
“I thought, well we might have to eat some bugs and Kathy was raised on a farm, and I'm sure a couple of bugs might have went into nose or mouth or something growing up,” Black said.
“The truth is, if I had to eat the bugs as a Roadblock, and it was my turn, I would have put some pepper sauce on that and just chomped that thing up. The things you [will] do once you’re on the show,...you're like, ‘yeah, I'll climb up the ferris wheel, easy.’”
'People look at artists and celebrities like we're untouchable'
For Canadians who watched the premiere episode of Season 8 of The Amazing Race Canada on Tuesday night, one of the most memorable moments came when Jully Black and Kathy Hunter got lost in Old Montreal, trying to get to the city’s Upstairs Jazz club for their Detour challenge. To help them find their way, the team flagged down a local police officer who escorted them to Upstairs Jazz so the pair could hopefully make up for lost time.
“It's a moment of desperation, really, there's one way streets, most of the city speaks French as their first language and you're just like, ‘we’ve got to stop,’…and the police officer was there,” Hunter recalled. “Even though it's not typical, what people don't see is we were actually discouraged.”
“I actually flagged the police officer down,” Black added. “I could care less about what the camera people were saying, they had been doing the show for seven seasons and they were like, ‘we'll never get it cleared’... You don’t ask you don’t get, at the end of the day.”
“It [also] just happened to be a Black police officer and I thought that was a really good thing in that moment. That was serendipitous for us, a Black police officer, good imaging, courteous, went above and beyond, got the clearance. We need to put some positive messages about the police out there.”
When they arrived at the jazz club, they had to memorize lyrics to a song by jazz artist Ranee Lee and perform the song. While this may have been in Black’s wheelhouse, the team failed the challenge the first time around, and had to do it again. But the delay wasn't necessarily as long as it may have seemed in the episode.
“This is the beauty of TV, we did that thing in like under five minutes,” Black explained. “It made for great TV for them to say, 'do it again,' because the band was playing for like four beats after we [stopped] singing,...we just did it again and we were out of there.”
“At the end of the day, for me,...another one of the reasons why I even wanted to be on the show, by the time I said yes, was to really show the humanity of things. People look at artists and celebrities like we're untouchable, like we're unbreakable, like we don't have emotion, like we're just perfection... Sometimes you're going to have to dust yourself off and try again, and if anybody could show grace under fire, it's going to be me.”
'A deficit in the race is not a deficit in your life'
While Jully Black and Kathy Hunter may have been on The Amazing Race Canada for a good time, but not a long time, they brought an infectious, entertaining energy to the show’s first episode, and they also received a great piece of inspiration from the experience.
“One of the things that our cameraman Claudio said was, ‘the deficits you've experienced on the race do not translate into deficits in your life,’” Hunter said.
“So if you are dehydrated, starving, tired and you lose your way, that does not mean you're directly challenged in life, that means under all of these vulnerabilities and this pressure cooker, this was difficult in that moment, and we both really loved that, ‘a deficit in the race is not a deficit in your life.’”
So while Black and Hunter may not be The Amazing Race Canada champions, they did show their drive, tenacity and can now share their inspirational moment with all of Canada.