Amal Alyassiri of Cedar Rapids proved she was game for adventure when she competed on the Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” survivalist challenge in September 2017.
Last summer, she had to convince her three sisters to join her in a new game show based on fully clothed, wacky challenges that would lay bare their derring-do for all the world to see.
They said “we do” to “Don’t.” And now viewers can see how they did. The episode, titled “Don’t Go Chasing Cedar Rapids,” airs from 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC-TV.
The sisters are hosting a watch party that begins at 6 p.m. at Cedar River Landing in Cedar Rapids, and will include a podcast and a chance to speak with the sisters and take photos, as well as to see the show.
“I already have a fan base (from the other show), and they’re excited and want to come out,” said Amal Alyassiri, 36.
She also is excited to see show she looks on TV “not rough, with my makeup and hair done.”
This latest odyssey began more than a year ago. She follows a Facebook page where people post the game shows for which they have auditioned, and she saw that a new one was looking for a family of four “fun, outgoing” people.
She asked her sisters if they were up for the challenge, and they were.
“They trusted me, which I’m happy that they did, and here we are.” she said.
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The next step was to take a leap of faith and contact the show — even though she still didn’t really know what it was all about.
“So I emailed them and was like, ‘Hey, this is me and my sisters, and were crazy, we’re loud, we’re everything you want for whatever it is you want.’ And the next thing you know, we got a phone call and they explained to us a little bit about the show, but still not too much detail.”
That was in June or July 2019. Shortly thereafter, Amal and sisters Dahlia Latif, Sabrin Alyassiri and Latifah Alyassiri traveled to the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta to meet the show’s production team, try an easy ball-passing game and answer some questions about themselves, like “who is the crazy one, who is the loud one, who is the Mama Bear,” Amal said.
They filmed their episode over a couple of long days in early August last year, with the network covering their expenses.
It all looks like fun and silly games to the audiences, but some of games are hard.
“Two of the challenges are pretty physical and dangerous,” Amal said. “Not life-threatening, but fun for the thrill-seekers.”
She was allowed to tell The Gazette that the most emotional challenge came when one of the sisters — now ages 34 to 41 — had to eat progressively hotter peppers. A previous contestant family had faced the same challenge, in which the dare was “don’t” chase the hot peppers with a cold drink.
“We don’t like to see each other in pain,” she said, and they stayed up all night with that sister during her many trips to the bathroom — alternating between feeling sad for her and laughing at her.
“Watching her go through that was pretty intense,” Amal said. “We’re very protective of one another. To see each other go through something we have no control over is hard for us. To this day, I tell her she’s crazy.”
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All four sisters have been sworn to secrecy about their game challenges and winnings. Even their parents and brother don’t know what happened.
“My mom was worried, because she was like, ‘Please don’t let it be another naked show.’” But their dad wasn’t worried, saying as long as they were all together, to just go out there and have fun.
Despite her mother’s fears, Amal was able to carry forward what she learned on “Naked and Afraid.”
“That every challenge is a mental challenge,” she said. “As long as I was OK mentally, I can accept any challenge. That helped a lot, and I put that in my sisters’ heads for days and days and days. Like whatever they put against us, 90 percent of it’s going to be mentally. So we can’t say, ‘Don’t say this, don’t say that,’ which is funny because of (the show’s name).
”We had to be positive — that was the key.”
What: “Don’t” game show
Contestants: Alyassiri sisters from Cedar Rapids
When: 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday
Watch party: 6 p.m. Thursday, Cedar River Landing (CRL), 301 F Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids
Show details: Abc.com/shows/dont
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