USU student appears on Jay Leno show

Mackinzie Hamilton appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno April 3. Photo courtesy of nbc.com.

By Amy Nelson

BluePrint contributor

Mackinzie Hamilton, a freshman at Utah State University, appeared on the April 3 Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She played in the game Meal or No Meal by doing her impression of Snow White’s song “I’m Wishing.”

It all started during spring break when Hamilton and four friends went to the Tonight Show in Los Angeles. While waiting in line to get into the show, an assistant started handing out blue papers and told those waiting in line to write down basic information and any weird or unique talents they could do.

“Nothing came to mind at first,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t think I could do anything that cool, but I can do an impression of the Disney Snow White singing, ‘I’m Wishing.’ I wrote it down just to do it.”

After the show, a Leno assistant named Chris called Hamilton and three others on stage. He was holding the blue papers and explained that his boss, Steve Ridgeway, wanted to film their talents so they could show them to their writers.

“Chris held up his iPhone while I introduced myself and gave a brief summary on how I discovered my gift. I did my bit and Steve said, ‘Wow, that’s something I’ll never be able to do.’”

Three weeks later, Hamilton was walking to work when she got a call from a number she didn’t recognize.

“I answered it thinking it was this refugee woman I had interviewed for a class assignment,” Hamilton said. “But it was Steve and he asked, ‘How’s Snow White doing?’… I was a finalist for their Meal or No Meal segment.”

Hamilton said she had never seen the Meal or No Meal segment, but had been told the gist of the game.

“There are three judges and they’ll either give an audience member a swanky meal or not, depending on how good or bizarre their talent is,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton and her mother, Shelley Hamilton, flew to L.A. April 2 on an all-expense paid trip.

“In all, they spent around $2,000 on my mom and I,” Hamilton said. “They also gave us some money for food and I got $300 for the appearance.”

Shelley Hamilton said she was shocked when she found out her daughter would be on the Tonight Show.

“It was totally crazy,” she said.

Hamilton arrived at the studio at 12:30 p.m. April 3. She went through a rough rehearsal of the show, was fitted with microphones and seated for the taping of the show. When Hamilton’s name was called to do her talent, the audience loved it. So did two out of the three judges. She won a free meal to Benihana and has until August 2012 to take seven people out to dinner.

“It was such a fluke but one that I’m grateful for, Hamilton said. “I’ve got a fun story to tell the grandkids now.”

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