Even before it hit the airwaves last fall, TLC’s reality shocker Breaking Amish stirred up a hotbed of controversy. On a near-daily basis, reporters and former friends of the five cast members revealed the truth behind the supposedly naïve Amish and Mennonite twentysomethings getting their first taste of life in New York City.
The show became an instant smash.
Now Amish-exile newlyweds Abe and Rebecca Schmucker, rising model Kate Stoltzfus and rebel Jeremiah Raber, and the show’s sole Mennonite Sabrina High are back for a second season called Breaking Amish: Brave New World, which premieres May 12. Attempting a fresh start amid a large Amish and ex-Amish community in Sarasota, Florida, the group finds that starting over is tougher than it seems.
We caught up with Kate and Sabrina via e-mail to see how they’ve adapted to the media spotlight and what to expect from the new season.
Channel Guide Magazine: Were you shocked at how quickly Breaking Amish became a hit?
Sabrina High: Yeah, I don’t think any of us were really prepared. I didn’t realize how many people actually watch TV because I didn’t grow up with that, so it was kinda hard for me to fathom that people would watch TV that much — especially a show with the five of us ‘cause at the end of the day we’re all just regular people. It definitely keeps you humble.
Kate Stoltzfus: Absolutely! I had no idea what to expect, but never realized it would become that popular. I’m really glad people like the show though.
CGM: What has been most surprising about how the show has changed your life?
KS: My life has changed drastically in the past year. Being on the show has made me realize that being genuinely happy with where and who you are is what counts. While we still need to respect other people’s opinions, it’s up to us to us figure out what works for ourselves regarding morals, since there will always be people who think they are too strict or not strict enough.
SH: Random people recognize me. I wasn’t prepared for that at all.
CGM: What was it like the first time you realized that people on the street knew who you were?
SH: It terrified me. That’s been the hardest thing for me I think. People walk up to me and I never know if they’re gonna be nice or mean.
KS: It was so strange at first! Most of the fans I met were very supportive though, and it makes my day when a fan tells me how much they love the show.
CGM: Was it weird to have people digging into your past even before the show premiered, or did you figure that might happen? How did you cope?
SH: I’ve never tried to hide anything from anyone — if they wanna dig, they can go ahead and dig. I can’t let it affect me or I’d drive myself crazy. I felt like a lot of old friends threw stones and I always just remembered the story in the Bible when Jesus told the people who were trying to stone a woman for her sins that “whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone” And it just always reminded me that the people that like to put me down aren’t always perfect either.
KS: I expected the media to dig — we are the ones that exposed ourselves, after all. It was difficult, but critics have always been my motivators and the fans became my encouragement.
CGM: Does filming Season 2 feel different from Season 1 — do you feel wiser about and more comfortable with the process?
SH: I don’t think I’ll ever get completely used to it. That being said, it was a lot easier this time — simply ’cause we weren’t in the city the whole time! Ha ha!
KS: Season 2 was much more enjoyable to film. Before filming the first season I wasn’t very comfortable talking about my feelings — and having to do that while getting used to a camera in my face was a challenge. By the second season, the crew almost felt like family, which made filming easier. Knowing the rest of the cast helped me the most, and understanding their actions made it easier for me to know what to expect and prepare for.
CGM: What’s the best and/or worst part about the show moving to Florida?
SH: The best part was the sunshine. The worst part was realizing they have alligators that run loose. I was a little freaked out about that.
KS: The best part was going to Florida for a vacation in the middle of winter. The worst was spending it in the middle of a community of Amish that I knew wouldn’t want us filming there.
CGM: Is it good to be reunited with the rest of the cast — or did you all stay in touch after Season 1 wrapped?
SH: It was cool seeing everyone again.
KS: I hadn’t seen the rest of the cast since the reunion, and I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them again. It was good to be reunited; however, I had several things I wanted to set straight with them and I wanted to show them they couldn’t run all over me again.
CGM: Fans are excited to see how your lives have changed since the first season ended. What are you are most excited for them to see?
SH: I learned an awful lot this season. If anyone can learn anything from my goof ups and the times I actually did manage to get it right, then I’ll be satisfied.
KS: I’m excited for them to see how much more confident I am! I also want them to see that dreams do come true if you work hard enough and set your mind to it. I think the scene I am most excited for them to see is one I can’t mention yet though!
Breaking Amish: Brave New World premieres Sunday, May 12 at 10/9CT on TLC.
Photo credit: TLC