Art MFA Candidate Stars on Danish TV!

 “What I Did on my Summer Vacation” took on new meaning for painter Katy Bisby this year. In what is likely a first for an NIU student, her response would be that she starred in a new television show on Danish television.

Katy, a 3rd-year MFA student in the NIU School of Art, is one of 14 American contestants featured on the new Danish show “Alt for Danmark” (Everything for Denmark). This is a reality-TV show, with the intent of featuring Danish heritage and culture. The contestants, all of whom have Danish heritage, were divided into two teams. For each installment of the 12-episode series, one team was declared the winner, and those contestants would then do something fun that was related to Danish heritage. The losing team members then competed against each other, and one member of that team was then sent back to the United States.

When asked how she came to be on the show, Katy says she responded to a posting on Craigslist. “My husband is a documentary film maker,” she says, “so I often look through the film postings on Craigslist to see if there’s anything that’s relative to his work.” What she found instead was something relative to her own life -- a call from a Chicago-based casting company looking for Americans with Danish heritage. From more than 3000 applications, Katy and 13 others soon found themselves on a first-class flight to Denmark.

Katy notes that she and the other contestants, as well as many members of the crew, have become very good friends. This was also Katy’s first trip outside the United States, making this experience not only exciting but life-changing. “It was very stressful, but one of the best experiences of my life,” Katy assures us.

One stressful moment happened early on. For the first episode, the challenge was a Danish spelling bee – having to spell words in Danish, whose alphabet happens to include 3 more letters than ours. “We were all done, putting our words on a board, when there was a camera failure. The producers and crew all knew which one of us had made the most mistakes and would be sent home, but we had to stand by our boards not knowing for an hour and half until they fixed the camera and revealed the results.”

While Katy is contractually-bound to not discuss the results of the show, she did say that the winner receives $50,000.00 (US) and a meeting with their living relatives in Denmark. All other contestants received the information that the genealogist found so that they can also locate their Danish relatives. The first episode of the series debuted this past Monday.

Katy has a facebook fan page for her “Alt for Danmark” experience, and you’ll find clips of the show there as well. You can also view the website for the show at

Congratulations, Katy, and we look forward to learning the final results!

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