They don’t want to brag, but these two Q-C women are kind of a big deal. Suzanne Weerts and Jessie Haug, who both live in Bettendorf, are taking on reality TV. Weerts is currently in L.A. on the hairstyling team for “American Idol” and is probably hanging out with Kelly Clarkson right now. And Haug is back home after competing on “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” which airs on CMT. 

Read on for what Weerts and Haug had to say about their small-screen adventures. 

Jessie Haug competes on “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge”

When Haug works out, there usually aren't a few million people watching. But for the last few years, she’s been chasing the adrenaline of reality TV shows that revolve around athleticism.

Haug, a 33-year-old Davenport firefighter, personal trainer and Army National Guard veteran, has competed on “American Gladiator” and “American Ninja Warriors." She's also in the middle of auditions for another show, which she hinted involved Sylvester Stallone. Her latest was a stint on “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” an endurance competition where she had a shot at winning $10,000. During the show, athletes face head-to-head challenges until one is left standing — with former professional wrestler "Stone Cold" Austin as host. 

Haug says the show came on at the fire station’s TV, and one of her coworkers jokingly told her she couldn’t win. So, she signed up. 

“I’m a 'why not' person,” Haug said. "It looked very intense, but I just wanted to see if I could do it. I like to see what I'm capable of." 

Haug says there was a lot of nervous energy during her episode of the show, but she’s probably more nervous to watch herself on TV.

“I’m not really a photo person or a selfie person, so being on TV is like another level out of my comfort zone,” she said. "That's what scares me most." 

Haug is a runner, bodybuilder, kick-boxer and she does CrossFit. Still, it's hard to train for a show with an obstacle like Rip Off (where you race to rip a band off of your opponent's ankle).

“I’m kind of used to accepting challenges as they come,” Haug said. “There’s a lot of unknowns in my life when I’m doing my job and there are a lot of unknowns on a show like this.”

She grew up in competition mode, from doing push-ups in the living room to racing to wash the dishes. Whether it's a game with her three kids or a Tough Mudder obstacle course, Haug can't turn down a challenge. 

“I love everything that is full of adrenaline and kind of dangerous,” she said. “I really enjoy doing these shows, and I’m probably going to do them as long as I can.”

Haug can’t say how far she got on the show; but her episode, which has a special military theme, airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on CMT. 

Suzanne Weerts talks styling on “American Idol”

Weerts first worked on the hairstyling team for “American Idol” in 2006 (remember Katharine McPhee?) and again in 2007. Now, she’s back for her final time — this season, which is the 15th, marks the end of the singing competition show.

“It feels like I’m seeing the show out,” Weerts said, via a phone call this week. “Idol really started the singing show competition thing. Years and years from now, most people are going to know what the show was.”

Weerts, who has owned her own salon since 2001, is part of the five-person team led by her friend and DeWitt-native Dean Banowetz, billed as the “Hollywood Hair Guy.”

“Dean asked me to come back for the farewell season, and I’m just really grateful. He knows a lot of people and could’ve asked anyone,” Haug said. “It’s a total team effort to get each contestant out there looking ready for live TV.”

She was on the hairstyling team 10 years ago, when the original judges (including Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell) were there. And the first-ever "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson is on set this week as a judge and mentor for the remaining 10 contestants. That episode airs at 7 p.m. today on FOX.

 “The first time I did it, I was a little star-struck, but you also have to remember it’s a work environment,” Weerts said. “I do what I normally do, except it’s with famous people.”

"The leap from my everyday life to live TV is really intimidating," she said. "Sometimes you only get 10 minutes with them at a time, so you have to calm your nerves down and just make them look good." 

She will be away from her salon for a few months until the show wraps, but she says her clients have been understanding. 

"They are so supportive and loyal, I've had a lot of the same people for many years," she said. "And I think some of them are enjoying saying, 'oh my goodness, my hairstylist does hair for famous people' kind of thing, so that's extra fun." 


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).