The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition — Meet Nancy & Mellisa, Taylor & Courtney, Todd & Anna and Zainab & Monica

The Amazing Race‘s 10 teams have finally been revealed and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is this season of the Race—returning Tuesday, July 3, at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV—being dubbed Heroes Edition because of the inspirational folks involved, but we actually got a chance to meet the teams before they began the Race. Not only that, but we were among a small group of Canadian media who observed a leg of the Race being run! More on that later; in the meantime, check out our interviews with the 10 teams competing this summer.

Nancy Csabay and Mellisa Hollingsworth
Occupations: Professional Barrel Racer/Horse Trainer (Nancy) and Olympian/Public Speaker/Realtor (Mellisa)

Who do you consider a hero?
Nancy: Someone who serves others. They think of other people before themselves. I believe everyone is a hero in their own right.

Mellisa: And somebody who inspires you through their story. If I talk about Nancy, there are so many people who can connect with Nancy and her story. That’s her fighting strength and what she’s gone through.

That’s what I like about The Amazing Race Canada. There is such positivity associated with the series.
Mellisa: When you watch it you are cheering for every single team. I get so emotionally invested in them and I feel what they’re feeling.

Any nervousness at this point?
Nancy: Just from our sports background, I look at nervousness a little different than others. For me, when I feel that in my stomach I look at it as excitement. How many of us get to do what I do? Specifically, in barrel racing, there is a small number of women who barrel race and how lucky am I?

Mellisa: And we both have that experience of knowing how to handle that emotion. I was taught at a very young age that nerves are good because it means you care.

As athletes, I would expect that gives you an advantage.
Nancy: Yeah, though, instead of comparing ourselves to others we’re just going to go and run our own race. We won’t worry what everyone else is doing. Instead of following someone who might not even know the way, we’re planning on staying calm and really reading the clue and making sure we know the task at hand.

Mellisa: We’re a bit of a social experiment too in our dynamic. We don’t know each other on an intimate level. We’re not siblings, we’re not spouses and we’re not best friends. We know each other professionally. But, while prepping, it’s been quite interesting. Our values and beliefs are aligning and that’s really interesting.

Any challenges you hope you don’t come across during the Race?
Nancy: Yeah, I’m not a big fan of snakes but Mellisa doesn’t mind handling them.

Mellisa: One of the things we’ve learned so far is to not focus on those phobias until we get to them. It’s the same in sport; whatever your weakness is, if you constantly give it attention and focus on it your world will revolve around it.


Taylor and Courtney Callens
Occupations: RCMP Officers

A quick question about being RCMP officers. Your bio indicates you’re the next generation of officers in your family. Did you always consider this career?
Courtney: I became a Mountie first just because I’m older. I finished university and then I applied and didn’t tell anybody. You write a test and then if you pass with a certain score you’re welcomed into the application process. My dad received my results in the mail and I told him to open it up. Thank god I passed, because how mortifying would it be if I didn’t?

Taylor: I’ve always wanted to do it. I went to school first, for criminology, and got my ducks in a row. I told everyone. I was the opposite. That was a lot of pressure because when you have three generations in front of you, plus your sister is now a member if you fail it’s devastating. But no family pressure.

Why will you be the last team standing in the season finale?
Taylor: We’re siblings. Some may look at that as a weakness, but in our dynamic … siblings fight. We’ve learned to make up and become friends again. We’ve gotten into fights for the last 25 years and we’re getting pretty good at bringing it back to Happyville.

Courtney: We’re so good at laughing it off.

Taylor: For other teams that aren’t related, that could cause a crack in their team. For us, we can seal that crack pretty quick and move on.

Is your plan to form any alliances or will you try to keep to yourselves?
Courtney: I’m not opposed to making friends.

Taylor: It’s not a closed door.

Courtney: But it’s not exactly wide open either.

Taylor: It would depend on the dynamics of the game. If it was a case where making allies on the show will help us or advance us, then yeah.

Can you be backstabby if you have to be?
Courtney: We can, but I’d prefer not to be. Being police officers, I hold us to a bit of a higher standard. And there is nothing like the conversation killer of, ‘I’m a cop.’


Todd Kirk and Anna Holtby
Occupations: Electrician (Todd) and Writer (Anna)

What did you do for your audition tape?
Todd: It was really last-minute. We filmed it in her apartment and then sent it in, like, 10 minutes before the deadline.

Anna: We were just ourselves. We bantered back and forth a little bit and then Todd shared his really amazing story.

Todd, tell me a bit about that story. Surviving cancer is a big milestone on its own, but you also endured bullying.
Todd: The message that I want to get across is anyone with cancer or a facial difference or anything like that … you can go out, express yourself and bring the message to Canada that you don’t have to be scared. I was scared and through friends, family and sports I gained confidence.

What gives you the edge against other teams?
Anna: I think it’s the balance we have as a team. Where he’s strong, I’m weak and where he’s weak, I’m strong. I’m not very good mechanically, but Todd can have something done in three minutes.

Todd: Anna is more book smarts and that’s definitely not me.

Anna: I’m detail-oriented and organized.

What have you done to prepare for the Race?
Anna: We’ve watched all the old seasons of the show and I took a book out of the library that is a children’s book all about Canada. I did tests of the provincial and territorial flags. And then we went to the gym for training.


Zainab Ansari and Monica Demain
Occupations: Navy Sailors, Royal Canadian Navy

What or who do you think of when you think ‘hero’?
Monica: I think of Zainab. I think of our moms. We both have single moms.

Zainab: I think of fellow Canadian Forces members. A hero can be anybody that you look up to that you want to emulate, to strive to be like and makes you feel good about yourself.

Why are you the team to beat?
Monica: We’re very skilled. We complement each other when it comes to skills. We don’t take no for an answer.

Zainab: Determination! The whole package. And I feel like, at first glance, we don’t come off as a strong team and we’re going to use that to our advantage. We’re not going to tell anyone what we do for a living.

Because you think that will put a target on your back?
Zainab: Completely.

Monica: Right now we look like sweet little girls, which we are. But we also came to attack. We came here to race, not make friends. Maybe outside of the Race, but not while we’re in it.

How did you prepare?
Zainab: We’re actually really lucky because I think it’s the same as preparing to be deployed. You don’t know where you’re going, but you know that you have to pack for a whole spectrum of conditions. Packing was a cinch, I think. And, also, we’re used to travelling around the world with the navy. We know how to deal with a lack of sleep, jetlag, stress.

Monica: We’ve been in those positions where someone is literally breathing down on you. The best way to work through that is to be calm or else you won’t be able to pay attention to detail.

The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

Greg David
Follow me

Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.