Justin Sommer and Austin Willis are trained to make decisions under high stress situations.
As pediatrics specialists at Presbyterian Hospital, it’s often required.
Yet, as the doctors get down time, each likes to unwind by creating sculptures with Lego.
For Willis, his children are the ones he creates Lego projects with.
Sommer uses his Lego time as a decompression tool after a long day.
“I started building my own stuff while I was in medical school as a way to decompress from the day of learning,” Sommer says. “I’m part of the New Mexico Lego User Group … I have a Lego room in my house.”
Just when their daily lives seem like nothing else could be crammed in, the two Albuquerque residents carved out enough time to be contestants on the Fox series, “Lego Masters.” The third season premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21.
The competition series is hosted by actor and producer Will Arnett. The series brings imagination, design and creativity to life when teams of Lego enthusiasts go head-to-head, with infinite possibilities and an unlimited supply of Lego bricks.
Teams of two will compete against each other in even more ambitious brick-building challenges – including an earthquake tower challenge, a demolition derby, a Lego fashion show and more – to be crowned the country’s most talented amateur Lego builders.
In each episode, Arnett, alongside expert Brickmasters and Lego employees Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard, encourage the builders, introduce incredible challenges and put their creativity and skills to the test.
The competing pairs who impress the judges the most will progress to the next round, until the finale, during which the top teams will face off for a $100,000 cash prize, the ultimate Lego trophy and the grand title.
Sommer went to Willis with the idea of trying out for the series.
“I remember (Austin) telling me, ‘There’s no way that my wife would go for this,’ ” Sommer says.
“She was all for it,” Willis continues.
With both doctors on board, they still had to make the big ask to their work.
Since they are both from the pediatrics team at Presbyterian, it meant that the department would be down two more people.
“I said let’s do it and try to make it happen,” Willis says. “We talked to our boss and colleagues.”
“Our colleagues make it possible,” Sommer explains. “While we were gone from work, they really stepped up to make sure that a beat wasn’t missed.”
Arriving on set, the pair knew immediately they were in for a wild ride.
“The show taps into the extreme creativity,” Willis says. “There are 5 million Lego bricks and the challenges are so unpredictable. It’s like problem solving and how to use these brings by not only expressing ourselves and completing the challenges.”
Sommer says each challenge can take hours to complete.
“For me, that was a big change. The time element is what you’re racing against,” Sommer says. “We have millions of bricks to choose from and there’s a lot you can do with them.”
Sommer and Willis are used to having to process information quickly as doctors.
With “Lego Masters,” the duo tried not to let the camera element get the best of them.
“When I was blocking a shot, they’d ask me to move,” Willis says. “I learned a lot from the show. It’s Lego not Legos and they are bricks. I’m used to building with my two boys. Justin chose a wild card in me. We definitely proved ourselves and I can correct my mistakes. They called me out (on set).”
The pair didn’t get used to the hair and makeup for the show either.
“We had it easy,” Sommer explains. “After we got touched up, Austin and I were hanging out. There were some other teams that stayed in hair and make up longer. They were stressed.”
While the pair can’t disclose how they did on the show, they both agree it was a great experience and will watch alongside the world when it premieres.
“My children have taken more of an interest since I’m going to be on the show,” Willis says. “It’s starting to get expensive.”