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HOME > The Amazing Race > The Amazing Race: All-Stars

INTERVIEW: Charla and Mirna dish about being 'Amazing' underdogs


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/09/2007 

Love them or hate them, cousins Mirna Hindoyan and Charla Baklayan Faddoul at least deserve a tip of the cap for being the third team to cross the finish line during CBS' finale of The Amazing Race: All-Stars.

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Charla, a 30-year-old real estate investor from Towson, MD, and Mirna, a 30-year-old attorney also from Towson, MD, finished sixth during The Amazing Race's fifth season, and were the only team representing that season on All-Stars.

On Monday, they talked to Reality TV World about their vast knowledge of the friendly skies; an "exhilarating" Roadblock that was never broadcast; why they ran the race the way that they did; and how they coined the term "Yield karma."


 





Reality TV World:  Dustin commented during the finale that you two always "snag great flights no one else has known about."  Do you think that's true and how do you go about doing it?

Mirna:  We've been traveling... actually we've been to 46 countries now.  When you travel throughout life, you learn the major hubs in every continent and every country, know a lot of the routes, and even know the departure times.  So, and also just a bit of hard work and determination.  Logic skills and research skills really help you get good flights.

Reality TV World:  Seeing as how you arrived in first and left in last, do you think the footrace on Shipwreck Beach cost you the race?


Mirna Hindoyan jumps off a Hawaiian cliff in The Amazing Race: All-Stars unbroadcast finale Roadblock task (Photo credit Robert Voets/CBS)
Mirna:  Actually we had like a two-hour lead arriving in [Hawaii] and they didn't show the last Roadblock I did.  I had to jump off a cliff, which was really exhilarating.  It wasn't that the run on Shipwreck Beach that cost us the time, basically we were only allowed to go on one flight [to San Francisco from Hawaii]... Basically it's a producer-controlled flight that all three teams had to be on.  And then it was a matter of being at the taxi stands to get the best taxi, and unfortunately our taxi driver had no idea where anything in San Francisco was.  He also didn't have a working telephone, so it put us at a disadvantage.  It was a little bit of an unlucky situation having to change taxis three times that day.  So it really I think shows it a little differently than it truly was.  We arrived at [Old Mint, the site of the All-Stars' final challenge] just as [All-Stars' winning duo of Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner] were finishing up.

Reality TV World:  Did you say there was a Roadblock challenge that CBS didn't show during the finale broadcast?

Mirna:  Yeah.  That was really exhilarating.  It was a free fall without any harness or anything off a cliff in Hawaii.

Reality TV World:  And that was one you said you did Mirna?

Mirna:  Yeah.  I usually don't like to do thrill-seeking things.  Charla loves that kind of.  It was such an adrenaline rush and we just did everything we had to to get to the finish line.

Reality TV World:  How far behind Eric and Danielle were you?

Charla:  We don't actually know because they were at the finish line.  But I think they were 10 minutes apart... each of the teams.  So first Eric and Danielle, then 10 minutes later [All-Stars' second-place finishers Dustin Seltzer and Kandice Pelletier], then 10 minutes after them then us.

Reality TV World:  Mirna you said "people truly got to know the real Charla and Mirna" during All-Stars.  What did you mean by that?

Mirna:  I don't remember.  When did I say that?

Reality TV World:  It was one of the quotes you gave after crossing the finish line during last night's finale.

Mirna:  When we were watching it there were so many fans and everything.  We couldn't really hear anything.  You know Charla and I came out on this race once again to meet everybody's expectations they have for us, that our fans had within us.  We wanted to prove that we could make it to the finals being an underdog team, and we wanted to show how much fun we have around the world.  We're very quirky and different... And we're immigrants to this country, so we've been traveling all our lives.  Plus, we feel like citizens of the world, so everywhere we went we were embraced with open arms and met so many friends on the way.  We had such a good time, kind of let our guards down and just had fun.  Even though it's stressful at times, it's so much fun throughout the entire thing.  It's kind of like being kids at heart all over again.

Reality TV World:  That leads perfectly into my next question.  How exciting was the "Care Package" Detour challenge for you during the twelfth leg?  About how long did the entire "Care Package" Detour task take you?

Charla:  Making the care package didn't take as long as taking the flight.  You know, getting the plane started and basically taking off and being in the air for so long.  That was the longest part about the whole Detour.  The care package was very fun.  We put in very good, fun things like rice and pans and toys and books.  And we just weighed it and then we went to the plane.  But you know, it's difficult getting a plane started, it's not just taking off and you're in a race so you want to go as quick as possible.  So that was taking a little long, but the rest was a lot of fun.  We had a blast!  At [zero gravity]...
Mirna:  We actually -- I don't know if you noticed -- but we actually were lifted off of our seats like three or four inches.  It was so wild.  I've never experienced anything like that.  But at the same time, we're in a race.  You know the flight was probably 40 minutes and putting together the care package was probably 10 minutes.

Reality TV World:  Mirna you commented during the eleventh leg that some of the other teams might see you as a "tyrant."  What led you to think that?

Mirna:  Well basically, I'm the kind of person that doesn't let anybody or anything get in the way between me and my goals in life.  So when Charla and I came on this race we were obviously at a disadvantage, we're an underdog team.  I want us to win... I want us to at least make it to the final three. 
Charla:  So basically we went into this race not allowing anybody to get in our way, not allowing anybody to intimidate us, whether it be cutting in-front of line or pulling us out of line at the ticket counters or what have you.  We just didn't want anybody to get in our way.  We believe in playing a fair game with respect to the other racers... And you now what?  On [The Amazing Race 5] we weren't really thrilled when people were trying to block the airport doors and ticket counters... we don't believe in that kind of game play.  We believe in everybody using their wits to be as creative as they can be to get ahead in life.  We don't believe in holding people back.  So that's really the sense of who we are and what we wanted to accomplish.  We made some great friends along the way like [fourth-place finishers Ozwald Mendez and Danilo Jimenez], we formed a bit of an alliance with Eric and Danielle.  We were really kind of hoping to go to the final three with our friends [Ozzy and Danny and Eric and Danielle].

Reality TV World:  You guys seemed to have a good relationship with Ozzy and Danny, which was evident several times in the race.  Where did that come from?

Charla:  We spent a lot of time with Ozzy and Danny.  We had so many fun and laughing moments... they didn't put it on-air.  I don't know why they didn't put it on-air, maybe it was too... you know, they don't like to show people having a great time (both Charla and Mirna laugh).
Mirna:  So you know we spent an eight-hour boat ride to Zanzibar with Danny and Ozwald... We had a blast!  I think we have a respect for each other from a different international, cultural perspective.  They can kind of understand us and know where we're coming from and we feel a mutual respect and understanding with them.  Also, we actually shared a hotel room and got to watch [The Amazing Race 10 season finale] while we were in Malaysia with them.  We actually did a lot.  I helped them with tickets number of times and they helped us giving us their standby flights in one very crucial time.  We love them.  They're great!

Reality TV World:  How surprised were you when Ozzy and Danny Yielded Eric and Danielle during the eleventh leg for a quick buck from Dustin and Kandice?

Charla:  Yeah, we were a little bit surprised about the whole Yield situation.  But they had no money at that time so... And we did offer them money.  And we did actually give them I think some money.
Mirna:  Actually when Charla was doing the jump off the Macau Tower [the Roadblock challenge where the deal went down], I actually ended up giving Ozwald $20.  It wasn't a lot, but it's not like we had a lot of money on us either. The problem was, we didn't have a chance to see them since [the race's previous leg had ended].  So unfortunately, I think another team got to them and worked out a deal before we had a chance to offer them money.  I knew they were running low.  When we offered it, it was too late.  But we gave them money anyway because I didn't want to see my friends struggling on the street and lost.  There were a lot of times when we had no money left either...

Reality TV World:  How'd you guys come up with the term "Yield karma," considering it seemed to actually be true?

Mirna:  It's our philosophy on life.  I mean to go out of your way to try to set people back.  Like we said, we're not the most perfect people in the world.  We try hard, and we think we play a fair and strong race.  I just think that if you try to deter people in kind of a hurtful way, then karma's gonna come back to get you.

Reality TV World:  Mirna you seemed to have a lot of problems driving motor vehicles during the race.  Why was that?  Do you think it put you at a disadvantage that Charla was unable to drive?

Mirna (laughing):  It was a disadvantage because I've never driven these kind of cars before!  Some of the cars had a choke, some of the cars had a steering wheel on the right side, some of them had four different brakes... I don't even know what you call it.  High drive?  Low drive?  I've never done that kind of driving.  I usually leave the driving to my husband.  We tried to take lessons and learn to drive a stick before [The Amazing Race 5] and refreshed again [before All-Stars], but you know, the way I drive, nobody wants to let me borrow their car! (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Why wouldn't you let Eric and Danielle use one of the computers at the beginning of the ninth leg?

Charla:  We got into the computers and basically wanted to do a few minutes of research.  I mean if they wanted to wait we didn't have a problem with that... We wanted to do research so we could get the best flight.  That's what we're good at!  So we wanted to make sure we got the best flight.  And you know if you're at a computer, and you give your computer to somebody else, how can you keep searching for a better flight?
Mirna:  We had just gotten there.  They actually started that leg only five minutes after us.  We would have been happy if they would have waited a few minutes, but usually they didn't like to wait.  Like for instance in Africa, when we were all getting our flights, they could have gone on that same flight that the travel agent in Zanzibar [booked for other teams].  But they usually didn't want to wait... so they just left.

Reality TV World:  Mirna you made a comment during the seventh leg that it's better to fly under the radar.  Do you think you and Charla flew under the radar?

Mirna:  I think having as big of personalities as we have, I think we did as good a job as you can expect anybody to fly under the radar.  I don't think anybody saw us as a threat -- at least not until the very end -- when they saw we were getting these flights that they never heard of.

Reality TV World:  Do you think the "Polish sausage" jokes you made to your cab driver in Warsaw during the seventh leg were appropriate?

Mirna:  Actually the cab driver didn't speak any English.  He didn't understand a word we said.  The irony was we could have said anything and he wouldn't of understood or responded in any way.
Charla:  Plus we didn't know we were going to eat Polish sausages at the time we were talking about the sausages.

Reality TV World:  Maybe some karma there I guess.

Mirna:  I'm sorry.  Somebody at CBS was just asking us something.  can you hold on a second?  (At this point Charla and Mirna were informed that they had to move on to their CBS.com "Finish Line" call-in talk show appearance and unfortunately only had time for one more question.)

Reality TV World:  Could you just sum-up your All-Stars experience?

Mirna:  I think America loves watching the humor that we brought to the show.  We came to the show originally for the humor... to be the funniest that's ever been on the race.  We just had a good time, letting our hair down, being... You know everyday in our lives, we're professionals and we have to kind of have a professional demeanor.  Being on the race is a chance to relive your youth with your cousin who you grew-up with and have a good time.  We've met so many friends along the way who've actually kept in-touch with us, the ones who helped us along the way.  And we owe a lot to them.  We want to thank them.  We want to give a shout-out to our fans.

In addition to Charla and Mirna, Reality TV World also conducted interviews with The Amazing Race: All-Stars winners Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner and second-place finishers Dustin Seltzer and Kandice Pelletier.  Click here to read our interview with Eric and Danielle.  Click here to read our interview with Dustin and Kandice.

(Photo credit CBS)


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