Maryland is taking over the entertainment industry.
Well, maybe not taking over per se, but people from our state have continually appeared on reality competitions and game shows these past few months. There’s been no shortage of Maryland representation across our screens, but just in case you somehow happened not to have watched television this year, here are some of the stars holding it down for the state.
Elijah Zelaya: “MasterChef Junior”
Elijah Zelaya, a 10-year-old from Ellicott City, is set to appear on the forthcoming “MasterChef Junior: Home for the Holidays” two-night special. The young chef will come face to face with Hollywood’s own Gordon Ramsay on the show. You can find Zelaya on his Instagram account and tune in to the shows on Fox this Sunday and Monday, both at 8 p.m.
Shelby Hoefling: “Squid Game: The Challenge”
You may know Shelby Hoefling as Player 438. The Baltimore resident was a contestant on Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge,” a reality competition spinoff of the streaming service’s popular “Squid Game” series. Hoefling was one of the hundreds vying for a $4.56 million prize on the show that debuted Nov. 22. The “Squid Game: The Challenge” finale is available on Netflix as of Wednesday.
Atoye Johnson: “Hell’s Kitchen”
Atoye Johnson is on Season 22 of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which premiered Sept. 28 and airs its latest episode Thursday night on Fox. Johnson is competing for a position as head chef and $250,000. The private chef and caterer from Bowie is the second Marylander on our list to be judged by the often-memed chef Gordon Ramsay. If you want to find out how she fared in the contest, binge the episodes that have already aired on Hulu and tune in for the rest of the season.
Joan Vassos: “The Golden Bachelor”
Rockville’s Joan Vassos was a contestant on “The Golden Bachelor” competition series. The spinoff was a unique version of the ABC show specifically focused on a senior bachelor and older women, starring contestants who “are not 20-somethings looking to start a career as influencers; they’re grown women who already have influence in their work, families and lives,” according to Banner columnist Leslie Gray Streeter. The final episode aired last week, though Vassos’ storyline, which ended earlier, was arguably more interesting.
Bishme Cromartie: “Project Runway”
Bishme Cromartie is a Baltimore native who, after coming in fourth on the 17th season of “Project Runway” in 2019, won Bravo network’s reality TV series “Project Runway All Stars” this fall. Cromartie was awarded $250,000, a feature in Elle magazine and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America after winning the season that he dedicated to his older sister Chimere Faye Didley, who died of cancer last year.
Carol Oppenheim: “Jeopardy”
On July 6, Carol Oppenheim was the latest Marylander to compete in the legendary “Jeopardy!” series. She did well. After applying several times during a 12-year period, the Owings Mills resident placed second during her appearance, according to the Baltimore Jewish Times. The retired computer programmer told the outlet that her advice to others who want to be on the show is, “Be persistent. And keep watching.” Clearly, that paid off for her.
Timothy Fletcher: “America’s Got Talent”
Timothy Fletcher stole the show on “America’s Got Talent.” The Baltimore native is a talented drummer who didn’t take percussion seriously until after the passing of a friend. Fletcher’s athletic and complicated routines unfortunately didn’t help him make it to the semifinals, but he made a long-lasting impression with his performances, including on the competition show’s judges. Host Heidi Klum called his performance “a perfect first audition,” and Fletcher received two standing ovations from Simon Cowell.
Correction: This article has been updated to remove a reference to "Wheel of Fortune LIVE."