Catching up with 2021 activities of LIers who appeared on reality TV shows


They traveled to Fiji, cooked in Oregon, sang as CGI avatars and performed for the president — this year’s class of Long Island reality-TV stars was perhaps the most plentiful and accomplished ever. Among 2021’s most notable:

Northwell Health Nurse Choir, various towns (“America’s Got Talent”): The “America’s Got Talent” finalists, 18 nurses and almost all who live or work on Long Island, have kept busy both on the pandemic’s front lines and in performance. These include the national anthem at the New York Rangers’ Essential Workers Night at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 29, and halftime entertainment for the Knicks’ similar night there on Dec. 2 and, this month, appearances on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and PBS’ “In Performance at the White House: Spirit of the Season.”

Luann de Lesseps, Sag Harbor (“The Real Housewives of New York City”): De Lesseps, a charter member of the Bravo series, with aired its 13th season this year, has been on a multistate cabaret tour that included a stop at The Paramount in Huntington. She also launched a nonalcoholic wine, Countess Luann’s Fosé Rosé.

Bella DeNapoli, West Islip (“The Voice”): After making it to the top 20 on the NBC singing competition, she was eliminated in the Nov. 9 episode, bringing her coach, Ariana Grande, to tears. This month, she released her new single, “Idk,” on streaming platforms.

Byron Gomez, raised in Central Islip (“Top Chef”): Still executive chef at Colorado’s 7908 Aspen, the “Top Chef: Portland” contestant, who emigrated from Costa Rica as a child and is in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, was among the dozens of notables in September who signed an open letter to Congress asking for immigration reform, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Debra Messing, Don Cheadle, Demi Lovato and Jericho native Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

Samaera Hirsch, Glen Head (“Alter Ego”): A finalist on the Fox singing contest “Alter Ego,” competing as the CGI avatar Misty Rose, the Tulane University senior sang the national anthem at the Knicks’ Madison Square Garden game on Oct. 24.

Bria and Lexi Martone, Dix Hills (“Unpolished”): The sisters continue to run their hair-and-nails emporium Salon Martone in East Northport. Bria is newly married, as seen on the show, and Lexi recently bought a new house.

Harry Poole, St. James; April Nothdurft, Ronkonkoma; and Kate Wurtzel, Nissequogue (“The Great Food Truck Race”): Poole, who with his wife owns the restaurants Jackson’s in Commack and Morrison’s in Plainview, tells Newsday that this year was “filled with pivots as the pandemic rolls on.” Adapting the name of the trio’s food truck, BFD, Poole is developing the catering company Backyard BFD and working with local breweries on BFD dinners. Part of Long Island Cares’ Restaurant Resiliency Program, he says, “It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the rebuilding process from the past two years.”

Carter Rubin, Shoreham (“The Voice”): OK, it was December 2020 when, at 15, Rubin became the show’s youngest male winner. But it was in 2021 that his career accelerated. In Las Vegas on Nov. 5 with his “The Voice” coach, Gwen Stefani, he performed a duet with her on her and Blake Shelton’s “Nobody But You,” then sang his major-label debut single, “Horoscope,” live on “The Voice” Nov. 30 as part of a retrospective of his time on the show.After being home-schooled in order to spend time on his career, Rubin tells Newsday that 2022 “is my year to continue putting out music, grow my fan base and see live music come back stronger than ever.”

Tiffany Seely, Plainview (“Survivor”): The eighth elimination on the 41st season, Seely, a teacher, has begun selling what she calls “Survivor”-inspired jewelry at the online platform Shopify.

Tommy Sheehan, Long Beach (“The Challenge”): After winning “Survivor” season 39 in 2019, Sheehan this year competed on MTV’s “The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies.” He suffered a concussion and was medically disqualified in the third episode.

Kaitlyn Velez, Copiague (“The Voice”): Having made it to the Battle Round before elimination, the Blake Shelton team member released the single “Off My Mind” on Dec. 3.

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