Kristina Kuzmic ’01, who studied theater and starred in several stage productions at Vanguard University, won the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star, which aired Friday nights this spring. Kuzmic was chosen by Oprah Winfrey from among ten contestants to host her own cooking show, Kristina’s Fearless Kitchen.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Kuzmic told Vanguard University. “You feel like you’ve won the lottery. Things like this don’t happen to me.”
Kuzmic was born in Zagreb, Croatia, and came to Vanguard University to study theater.
“I fell in love with Vanguard, the climate and the people in Southern California. I felt like I fit in,” she says. “Being at Vanguard helped me become more confident in myself and confident in being in front of people. I made lifelong friends.”
After graduating and going through a personally painful time, she found herself waiting tables, raising two young children and struggling to pay bills. From that experience was born a desire to teach others how to cook healthy food for less money.
She created a cooking website to display her recipes, and a fan of the site encouraged her to try out for Oprah’s new show. Soon, Kuzmic was interviewing with Mark Burnett Productions, which also produces Survivor and The Apprentice, and was named a top ten finalist.
The competition, judging and weekly eliminations were aired on Friday nights on OWN. Kuzmic and the other top-two finalist were both awarded their own shows in a surprise ending on the finale, which aired February 25.
“Honestly, it still hasn’t hit me,” Kuzmic told People magazine of surviving the elimination process. “It was a journey of learning to believe in myself and knowing that I’m worth my dreams.”
Kuzmic says she was “amazed how sweet and warm and lovely Oprah is in real life. For someone that powerful and famous you would never know it. She treated us like her buddies.”
Now Kristina’s Fearless Kitchen will attempt to redefine what cooking shows look like, and teach people to cook healthy, inexpensive food.
“I’m going to drag everybody out of drive-thrus and kill their excuses,” Kuzmic says. “I want everybody to have the time of their lives in their kitchen.”
Vanguard University is one of the top Christian fine arts universities in the world, with nationally-known theater and music programs and alums who work in the highest levels of the entertainment industry.