A newsmaker you should know: North Fayette woman steps in front of camera for 'Pedal America'

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When Kati Lightholder asked her husband if he considered her an "intermediate mountain biker," she wasn't fishing for a compliment -- she was fishing for a job.

His lukewarm response -- "Hmm, I don't know" -- didn't stop her from applying to be co-host of the public television series "Pedal America." The show, filmed on various locations and hosted by Ira David Levy, is distributed by American Public Television and airs on WQED-TV's high-definition channel.

"I was completely honest. I told them I enjoy mountain biking, but I am not an advanced biker ... but I have some of the other qualities you are looking for," Ms. Lightholder, of North Fayette, said.

Like her husband, Blake, Ms. Lightholder is a recreational mountain biker.

Her honesty, if not her skill, made an impression. She was asked to co-host a Pennsylvania segment of the show and later to be part of the remaining episodes.

Ms. Lightholder is a native of Bethel Park and has a growing career in the film industry, adding co-hosting to a resume that includes behind-the-scenes film work, on-camera work and Web-based film production. After producing the popular "Mercury Men" series for Syfy.com, Ms. Lightholder thought she would head full throttle into production, but she caught the acting bug.

"I thought I better at least give acting a try," she said.

Her goal now is to find a blend of the two.

She gives full credit to her husband for getting the job.

"He's so supportive. You can't make it in this industry if you don't have 110 percent from the people around you," she said of her husband, an account executive with Chemistry Communications. The two met in their senior year of high school.

As host and co-host, Mr. Levy and Ms. Lightholder travel to noted road cycling and mountain biking cities, spending a week in each, filming for the half-hour episodes.

"We explore the area, present some history, maybe stop at a popular restaurant, visit a bike shop. We meet the people and see the best the area has to offer in terms of biking," she said.

Mountain biking can be a little more dangerous than it looks on camera, she said.

"You can't see my heart pounding as I'm flying down a hill," Ms. Lightholder said.

She recalled a big fall.

"I changed gears and went over the handlebars. I had the wind knocked out of me. They didn't even catch it on camera. I was black and blue, but after that, I did some the best riding I've ever done," she said.

After graduating from Allegheny College, Ms. Lightholder got her first job as an associate producer at Mind over Media, a video production company in Pittsburgh.

"I got my work ethic there ... they taught me everything I know about video production."

She then worked as production secretary in "The Haunting Hour," filmed in Pittsburgh in 2007. Other credits include "Smart People"; "The Kill Point," a Spike television mini-series; and the Fox Television pilot, "Locke and Key."

Ms. Lightholder concedes, though, that her first love is comedy; one of her goals is to be in a comedy television show.

"People are so stressed out today. Comedy helps them escape for a while. I would love to make people laugh."

Her chance came in the form of a feature film "Sonny Days," filmed in Pittsburgh by Crows Run Pictures, in which she portrayed a quirky art student. The story follows members of the Youngstown, Ohio, City Council.

"It's a character-driven film. The characters are quirky and that's what I love about it," she said.

The film will be submitted at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Ms. Lightholder is also passionate about nutrition and food.

"I'd love to create a show to help people navigate through all of the information out there," she said.

The "Pedal America" series produced by Out-Write Media LLC is presented by Public Broadcasting Service station WTTW Chicago.

American Public Television distributes the series to public television and PBS stations across the country

Information: www.iradavidspedalamerica.com.

"Pedal America" will re-air locally at 9:30 a.m. Sundays and at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays on the Create TV network, WQED2 (13.2).


Jill Thurston, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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