Embracing Netflix Fame: What the Blown Away Contestants Are Up To Now

Four months after the release of Blown Away, we caught up with some of the contestants to find out how their lives have changed in the wake of the hit Netflix show, and to ask… what’s next?

What has the success of Blown Away meant for you?

“I have newfound notoriety created by the success of Blown Away. This has given me an opportunity to step up to the next level in my career. The challenge is to translate that into something more permanent. Blown Away has been a springboard for me to redefine my artistic goals and work strategically on achieving them. A door has opened for my career and to continue to progress I need things that are longer-lasting like gallery shows, and a way to keep making art such as residencies. There has been a remarkable buzz too. I’ve felt so connected to my new fans, and very supported by them and their words, it’s so powerful in my life.” Deborah Czeresko – New York City, New York

Deb Czeresko working in the Amphitheater Hot Shop at CMoG during her Blown Away winners residency
Deb Czeresko working in the Amphitheater Hot Shop at CMoG during her Blown Away winners residency

“I didn’t know that participating in the series would result in a big social media following, but it has. It’s helping me sell the kind of glass I like to make and get traction for other projects. I’ve had some fun interviews and other media exposure, but also my classes are filling up faster, and my students seem more engaged. I honestly might have looked down my nose at this type of exposure in the past, but my experience has been thoroughly positive.” Alexander Rosenberg – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Because of the show, I’ve noticed more people are aware, if not interested, in glassblowing. I’m so happy to see that people are excited about this art form and I hope to see that momentum continue to build. The success of this show has also sparked a lot of meaningful conversations that I want to continue through my artwork, and as an activist.” Momoko Schafer (aka Momo) – Boston, Massachusetts

Janusz Pozniak on the set of Blown Away
Janusz Pozniak on the set of Blown Away

I am so happy that the show has been such a hit. Glass is such a beautiful, captivating medium, and yet so many people have not really had the opportunity or reason to investigate it as such. The show has directed a lot of lovely people to my work, and for that, I am very grateful. So many fans of Blown Away have reached out, wanting to support me, and even if they aren’t in a position to financially support my work by purchasing a piece, they have encouraged me to continue doing what I love and not doubt myself. This experience, in particular, has been really surprising and unexpected. It has actually given me a lot of hope and a new appreciation of humanity.” Janusz Poźniak – Seattle, Washington

How are you maximizing your newfound Netflix fame?

“Friends of mine were like…”you’d better get an agent”—implying I would get an acting contract—Ha! I said I think I better get a gallery, I’m an artist. Don’t get me wrong—I’d love an acting career, I love being in front of the camera. But, practically, I need to refocus, to create an identifiable artistic vision—evaluate what are the most important things for me to be making. I was curious and researched what happens to reality tv show winners. Tim Gunn from Project Runway said it really depends on the persons’ ambition and who they were before the show. Success from this point on is not a miracle, the person must make it happen. I read that there are a lot of competitive singing shows in India with very talented singers. The contestants have dreams of contracts in Bollywood but say the only job they can get is a bellhop in a local hotel. They don’t have the opportunities that a contestant in the US would have. I worry about not capitalizing on this opportunity, and unlike them, I live in a place that has possibilities for artists.” Deborah Czeresko

“I haven’t changed very much about what I do from day-to-day. I still teach and blow glass a few times a week at Salem Community College. I get recognized in public sometimes and that’s consistently surprising and funny. I’m trying to keep things manageable, producing glass on a scale I can keep up with independently. There’s a lot of parts to my life that I want to keep in balance and I’m doing my best to maintain that while taking new opportunities as they appear.” Alexander Rosenberg

“I’ve gained quite a few followers on Instagram, Facebook, and even some patrons on Patreon*. Because of this show, I’ve had the opportunity to be interviewed by National Public Radio, get in contact with different artists, and speak at a couple panels. This attention has also brought some exciting commissions as well as collectors.” Momo Schafer

Momo Schafer (center right) joined by Blown Away host Nick Uhas, fellow contestant Annette Sheppard, set designer Tim Luke, producer Donna Luke, and final guest judge Eric Meek, at a Blown Away panel discussion at CMoG in May 2019

“My wife and I are working hard at responding to each and every person who has reached out, to express our gratitude. On the business side of things, we are leveraging the exposure the show has drawn to my work and thinking through how to expand our joint creative pursuits in a way that reflects our values and is thoughtful, environmentally friendly, and also helps to shine a light on the work of our extended community of local artisans and glassblowers.” Janusz Poźniak

What’s next for you?

“More shows! More museums! The Heller Gallery is taking pieces to SOFA, Chicago, this year. A bunch of my work will be going to Le Stanze del Vetro in Venice for a show in 2020. That’s the ‘what’s next’ right now. Obviously, people know who I am now, so, I have to identify where I want to be, and just go for it. This is a great opportunity, so I don’t want to become one of those singers who ends up a bellhop. I have to push through what I see as my own limitations. Learn more about the marketing part of the art world that hasn’t been my specialty to date. I’m going to take this opportunity and make it something meaningful for myself. My dream has been fueled and I am ready to do the hard work. I really wish I had a mentor to guide me through this phase.” Deborah Czeresko

Alexander Rosenberg with his new studio companion Franklin

“I’m living between Philadelphia and New York now, so I’m interested in connecting with new institutions and individuals professionally in my second city. I’m working on several new art projects and I’ll be traveling quite a bit, doing lots of teaching in the coming year. I have a seven-month-old puppy named Franklin who I’m training to be an exceptional studio companion.” Alexander Rosenberg

“My next public event is demonstrating at the UrbanGlass Fall Fundraiser with Deborah. After I wrap up the next hand full of commissions and private lessons, I’ll be applying for more grants and artist residencies. I’m also exploring flameworking so you’ll be seeing more detailed sculptures as well as wearable art in the near future.” Momo Schafer

“Thanks to all the wonderful support from people who watched the show, I am going to be busy blowing glass and developing commission ideas. The revenue from these projects will enable me to make more work, experiment, and build on the momentum of growing my own business. The exposure from the show has given me the supportive audience that I have always struggled to find, and for that, I am extremely grateful.” Janusz Poźniak

You can see Deborah Czeresko live at The Corning Museum of Glass October 14-17, 2019, with a special live-streamed demonstration on October 15, 2019, 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Find all the details here.

Blown Away is available for streaming on Netflix.

*Patreon is a crowdfunding membership platform that provides business tools for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons.”

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