His high school years were some of the toughest times Eagan Tilghman had ever gone through.
While some can look back on their high school years and talk about the fun times, the Meridian, Mississippi, teen, who was recently a part of the NBC reality show “Making It,” will never get to share those memories.
“I was bullied really, really bad when I was in high school. People were just heartless and cruel to the point where I eventually just had to drop out because I couldn’t be around it anymore,” he said.
Eagan’s father, Todd Tilghman took it upon himself to go to the high school’s administration to express his concerns, but he felt it wasn’t enough and that they failed him. By dropping out of high school at 17, Eagan, now 19, said he finally found peace.
“I’ve always struggled with what I went through in high school, so it was nice for this show to come along and I could show all the people that doubted me and said I wasn’t worth anything, that you can go through something like that and still come out on top,” he said.
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Appearing on ‘Making It’ was a confidence boost
Eagan, did in fact, come out on top when he was chosen to appear on NBC’s reality competition series, “Making It,” hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. The show features skilled craftspeople who compete to be named the “Master Maker” and win $100,000.
At age 10, Eagan began to create costumes for his seven brothers and sister and even himself.
“I’m fairly self-taught…no one ever taught me to sew so I figured it out on my own,” he said. “All of the costumes I’ve made were kind of just me throwing stuff together and then getting better.”
The first costume he made was an ode to one of his favorite actors, Johnny Depp. He managed to recreate the iconic “Edward Scissorhands” character for Halloween.
“He was only maybe 10 or 11, but the ‘Edward Scissorhands’ costume, makeup and wig were remarkable,” Todd Tilghman said. “Of course, we noticed much earlier that he was gifted artistically and creatively, and that he was unique.”
In September 2018, Eagan applied for “Making It,” but as time went on he forgot about it.
“Because it’s a reality TV show, you apply knowing you’re not going to make it, then in December of that year on my little brother’s birthday as I was dressing him up, I got a text from the casting agency and I freaked out because I forgot I applied,” he said.
Eagan said throughout the interview process, he didn’t think he’d make it as far as he did, but all of sudden he was in front of the cameras.
“I was kind of nervous in the beginning leading up to it because I’ve watched the show before. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of work to do in so little time,’ ” he said. “I usually bring my own original spin on costumes, but it was a challenge for me to just come up with something totally original.”
When he finally got into the groove of things, the nerves left and the confidence came in full force.
Eagan continued to show off his talents until he was eliminated in episode five on Dec. 9.
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“I had nine amazing makers I learned things from, plus the helpers and hosts,” he said. “But that’s the thing about this show — nobody’s against each other, we’re all doing it together and then somebody wins.”
Even though Eagan had a rough past and experience with self-doubt, he said being on the show made him realize he could actually accomplish something, especially with the support of his family.
Todd Tilghman said his son didn’t let the bullying defeat him.
“The way he has risen above it, the way he chose to use it as fuel to propel him toward success, that’s something we’re overwhelmingly proud of,” he said.