A Fondren resident will have his time in the spotlight on a national television show.
Zachary Henry, an Architectural Associate at Duvall Decker in Fondren, was featured in an episode of House Hunters on HGTV at 9 p.m. Monday, December 3. Longtime Jackson Realtor® and Fondrenite Don Potts was also part of the episode.
Henry, a Knoxville native and Mississippi State University graduate, said the process began in January with his desire to settle down in Jackson for a time.
“My best friend, Lucas Posey, suggested I apply for the show,” Henry said.
The application began with simple questions about Henry’s wants, his style and his career. “I was trying to be witty so they would find interest in me,” he laughed. After eight or nine phone calls, Skype sessions and conference calls, he was notified by March he’d have his own episode.
Seven days of filming – from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day – all happened while Henry was finishing his degree at the beginning of April.
You will spot several local locations in the show: La Brioche Patisserie, The Library at Fairview Inn and Brent’s Drugs were all used. Many of the “walking and talking” shots were filmed on Oakridge Drive, a street Henry said represents so many architectural styles in Fondren.
Each house – two in Fondren and one in LeFleur East – took an entire each day to film.
“I thought, ‘How can you really be there all day for the same thing?’ Henry questioned. “No joke, though: each house tour is shot three or four different times.”
Memorization was a key skill, recreating the same motions and lines, take after take, the same exact way. “The camera’s in the front, the camera’s beside you, the camera’s on other side of you, the camera’s behind you. It was one camera, a sound guy and a producer.”
After principal filming for his episode, dubbed “Form or Function,” the crew returned a week later for the “three months later” scenes.
“I had a week to flip my house and get it ready,” he said. With a group of friends helping out, Henry said he would go to class, come home and paint, go to work and come home and furnish. “My couch was accidentally delivered to San Antonio, not Jackson. So, on the show, you’ll see us sitting on cushions on the floor because my furniture was stuck on a truck.”
Sure, there’s more, but we’ll leave a little of what Henry calls “TV magic” to your imagination.
“I’m excited to see how they portray me,” Henry said. I think it will be (as someone) very picky, wanting an older home. I wanted character, to make it my own. So I was fine with a fixer-upper but Lucas wanted ‘new.’ That was the battle of the show.”
Henry said his he and his mom watched the show when he was growing up and she (as moms usually are) is excited about his episode.
“I waited until I got the final call (being cast) and she was freaking out,” he laughed. “My town back home is freaking out. Some of my friends still at MSU are having a viewing party. It’s cool. I never thought I would be on national TV.”
It’s a brush with fame that may live on past a few airings of the episode.
“My show’s producer said, ‘You don’t realize how many people watch this show,’” Henry explained. “You’ll be in the middle of nowhere, running through an airport and someone will say, ‘were you on House Hunters?!’ It happens all the time.”
Including while they were still filming.
Henry said he was chatting with his mom at an appliance store and the store’s employee overheard their conversation.
“(The clerk) made me sign an (autograph) for his wife,” Henry said.
At Sherwin Williams, the salesman took a photo, printed it out and then made Henry sign that. And then, a neighbor at a house next to a filming location realized what was going on and called her whole family out.
“She said, ‘We watch every night as a family.’ You don’t realize things like that.”
Henry hopes his episode (number ten, season 155), shows Jackson in a positive light.
“Mississippi gets a bad rap,” he said. “I wanted to help sell Jackson, using Fondren to sell it. And I wouldn’t choose anywhere else right now to live. I love it here.”
Henry said he knew he wanted to be an architect since he was a child.
For college, he applied to seventeen programs, and Mississippi State was “the nicest and most willing to invest in my future.” Henry received a full artistic and academic ride.
For his fifth year thesis, the architecture program for MSU is in Jackson. That’s where he connected with Anne Marie and Roy Decker for an internship. When it came time for a job, he said, “I never applied anywhere else.”
“I’ve liked smaller towns. I wanted to work in a high-design practice like Duvall Decker. I had another option in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but it was the only other I considered. I talked to Anne and Roy, fell in love here and didn’t have any ambition to go anywhere else.”
Henry said, simply put, he saw an opportunity here as a designer.
“I knew I could see my impact being made more in a town going through revitalization, a place where people really care about their city. It’s why I moved to Fondren, to be part of that revitalization and be close to work.”