The next time you read an improbable plot twist in a novel and say, “Oh, please, that could never happen!” remember Emily Riedel of Discovery Channel’s Friday reality hit, “Bering Sea Gold.”
The 24-year-old, born on the Fourth of July in Alaska, has been studying operatic singing in Vienna and wants to complete her master’s degree in fine arts. But like all of us in this economy, she needs some money. So she went to work for her childhood friend and followed in her eccentric father’s footsteps, diving in Alaska’s Bering Sea to suck up gold from the ocean floor.
“A couple of years ago,” she says, “my life was all about the pursuit of opera and the pursuit of music. I thought of myself as an artist. It still is about that. I went up to Nome, and I wanted to earn some money in a very creative way, of course, to go for my master’s.
“Now I took on gold mining as another passion in my life. So now I have these dual passions, and they’re very unrelated. So I’m working hard to make both of them part of my life.
“Unfortunately, gold mining is eclipsing my operatic pursuits, but not completely. In the offseason, I study my singing as much as I can. I’m going to get it together and go for my master’s. But it’s hard to juggle two very, very different careers.”
As for her lifelong (boy?)friend and gold-mining captain, 25-year-old Zeke Tenhoff, well, she says, “It’s complicated.”
She continues, “A lot of people are confused about it, because I’m confused about it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what our relationship is or where our relationship is going or what to do about our relationship. There’s a lot of chaos there.”