Discovery Channel struck it rich with their hugely successful reality series Gold Rush, which consistently finds itself atop the Friday night cable television ratings. Now the network has staked another claim in the gold mining reality show business, but this time they’re going underwater with Bering Sea Gold, featuring four separate crews on four separate boats as they try to dredge up gold from the floor of the Bering Sea just outside of Nome, Alaska.
And water isn’t the only new element they’ve added, the show also features… a woman?!?
Meet Emily Riedel, a 23-year-old adventure enthusiast and Bohemian beauty from Homer, Alaska with a passion for gold and singing opera. Yes, you read that right. Emily graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2010 with a Vocal Performance degree. (CLICK HERE to see video clips of Emily singing on stage.) According to her Discovery Channel bio, she plunged into the Bering Sea in hopes of finding enough gold to pay for graduate school in Austria:
Emily grew up in Homer, Alaska, where she developed a great love of opera. A classically trained singer who has studied on the east coast, she’s returned to Alaska with a plan: she hopes to earn enough money finding gold with childhood friend Zeke to get her to graduate school in Austria. The only female in the Nome gold dredging fleet, Emily is strong, tall and strikingly beautiful. With her eccentric father Steve working on The Wild Ranger (and watching her every move), Emily will spend her season negotiating the dangers of the gold season, as well as a minefield of relationship problems.
Emily did a Q&A with FOX 411 and revealed more about her interesting life and what led her to go for the gold. She was asked what it was like being the only woman on the show and subsequently being the only female doing what she does in general. She said:
It was rough, and lonely. It’s been about twenty years since the last female dredger in Nome, and I think most of the men there expected me to give up immediately and go home. I was under extremely close scrutiny as a woman, and I generally got criticized for being a beginner and having no experience, when half of the dredgers up there that summer were also mining for gold for their first time.
Here’s a clip of Emily out on the hunt with Zeke, Ezekial Tenhof, on the junkyard beauty that is the Clark:
When push came to shove it all came down to that elusive possibility of making a lot of money. She told 411 that she never considered mining for gold a good idea but that she had aspirations of living in Europe and further pursuing her opera career. She added she’s been poor all her life and even though the work sounded dangerous it seemed much less intimidating than a 9 to 5 job. This unique opportunity promised the possibility of making some serious bank in a short period of time.
Riedel indicated that this wasn’t her first unique occupation, “I’ve had crazy jobs in Alaska before that have funded my operatic habits.” One of these professions is being a massage therapist. I know. I too am thinking about laying in a cabin in rural Alaska with a slow fire burning while Emily tells me of her adventures and sings me Bach while giving me a professional massage. Everyone has their own dreams of gold right and darnit this one’s mine!?!
Emily currently resides in Vienna, Austria according to her Twitter account while she pursues a masters degree in opera. While it sounds like she’s moved on from her Bering Sea adventure she still very much has Nome in her blood and is open to the possibility of returning – it just probably wouldn’t be with Zeke. And hey, it’s hard to be away from home for an American girl and Emily has some additional cred in regards to her all-American awesomeness in that she was born on the 4th of July, 1988.
Here’s a great photo of a younger Emily accompanied by her grandfather from her high school graduation:
Emily breaks down the allure and eccentricity of the work and people featured on the show:
“It’s so strange to think about it, especially as I am in a place right now that couldn’t be more different from Nome. I feel like I have unfinished business with gold dredging, and the lifestyle is alluring… I have never felt more alive than when I was living without running water or electricity on the beach. It’s addictive. Nome gets under your skin, not just because of the enormous financial possibilities, but because it’s so wild, and so much on the edge of life. Nome is where ‘characters’ go to retire. No one asks questions, there’s no rigidity and everyone has their own set of rules. As far as working on the Clark again… many things would have to change in order for me to work with Zeke again.”
One additional thing that might encourage Emily to return for another go is that Bering Sea Gold was the highest rated series premiere in the history of the Discovery Channel, with 3.66 million viewers! This very interesting woman is admittedly at a crossroads but instead of setting a course on one particular path she hopes to somehow merge the life of an elite opera singer and a “wild Alaskan.” Wild and hot I say!
I’m looking forward to seeing much more of Emily and selfishly I hope she does return for another go at Nome’s own unique brand of gl0ry h0le huntin’. Did you know I had to refrain from using that term this whole post because it’s considered profane by our sponsors!?! That’s probably a good thing as it kept me in check, reminding me to show Miss Riedel the proper respect an opera singing, wild Alaskan, gold hunting, massage therapist, pursuing an opera masters degree in Vienna deserves.
While I suffer from Emily fever she cofesses in the 411 interview that she has that addictive gold fever.
“My gold fever is bad. It started the first time I saw gold on the ocean floor. You feel like everything in the world has suddenly ceased to matter and nothing can tear you away from the sight of the beautiful, luminescent gold just lying there. As I was staring at it, transfixed, I remember thinking “I would not go to the surface for anything.” Which was the precise moment Zeke accidentally shut off my air compressor. So, while gold fever is dangerously powerful, air is still more important.”
One last parting swoon worthy shot of Emily. The finest thing to grace reality TV in quite a while and unquestionably the best attribute of the Clark!
Bering Sea Gold airs Fridays at 10PM EST.