This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Ports of Call|
I was at work when my cell phone rang loudly. I looked at the phone anxiously; as I had been waiting to hear back about good news for months. I quietly answered the phone, and sat forward at my desk. "Hi, Ashley?" The voice said, "You have been selected as a contestant for Wheel of Fortune! Are you available on August 18th?" I could hardly contain my excitement! "I will be!" I said with a huge smile on my face. The day was coming, the day I had been waiting for going on 20 years! I was going to be on Wheel of Fortune!
I started my Wheel watching at a very early age back in my hometown of Plano, Texas. As far back as age 8, I would sit in front of the television and solve puzzles, mostly before the contestants even had a chance to figure it out themselves. I always felt so proud of myself. My mom would walk in the room and ask me if I had finished my homework yet. But, I always finished my homework before I sat down for Wheel. I lived by a "work before play" motto, and I made sure my work was done so I could get to solving puzzles for a half hour! I loved the challenge of putting together the pieces to create the whole. It was so fun when you guessed the answer! I would always imagine what I would do on one of the amazing trips, or how I would have witty banter with Pat Sajak in between rounds. But, believe me, when you get there, the nerves kick in quickly! You dont feel as cool and witty as you do sitting in front of the television screen! I used to love watching Vanna White cross the stage and turn the letters over to reveal the answers. She always looked so poised and beautiful! I knew when I met her I would give her a big hug! I was not sure of how, when, or where I would get on the show, but I knew I would figure it out somehow!
I moved to Los Angeles at age 20 to pursue some acting endeavors and also finish school. I joined the Wheel Watchers Club online so I could stay up to date on any auditions in the area. Yet, every time I saw an audition, it was in another state. I fell into a career in the hospitality industry and began moving up the business as a manager. I still continued to watch the show and keep checking online for an audition for 8 years! A few times it came close, but I would always be held back from going by a work engagement. I finally made up my mind after three missed opportunities to audition because of work, that whenever the Wheelmobile came within the state of California, I would be there no matter what! I finally got the email back in February that the event was coming to Ontario, CA; only about an hour or so from where I currently live. I knew this was my chance, so I put together a great playlist in my iPod and headed out on the road!
The audition was massive, in a humongous Mathis Brothers furniture store. I left super early in the morning to beat the Los Angeles traffic and to try and get a good spot in line. I figured a few others would get there early, too. I was oh so wrong not only were a few others there. Hundreds of people were already lined up outside of the store! I wondered how I would get a chance to be seen in this crowd. I waited, inching along slowly and snaking through the stores many departments and levels. I almost bought some furniture while I was there! Those chairs were so comfy!
By the time I got into the large area where the contestant coordinators brought us to play some quick puzzles, I had been in the store for hours. I thought I would never get into that room! Now was my chance! However, in the midst of so many people, my name did not get called to go up to the front of the room and play puzzles. I felt so disappointed! But, the contestant coordinators told up to keep an eye out we could still get picked by a random drawing. My ears perked up. I felt my chances were not gone yet!
A month later, I got an email from Wheel of Fortune. I clicked on it anxiously! I opened the email to find I had been selected to come to a smaller audition in Culver City! I immediately called my fianc and my parents to tell them the good news! They thought I would be getting on for sure. I told them I still needed to audition, but they were both convinced my dreams were already coming true. It started to feel meant to be!
I took a day off work and traveled out to the location for the final round of auditions. I knew once I got there, I would solve every puzzle I could! We were in a hotel meeting room, with a puzzle in the front of the room and a small Wheel to spin. I looked around for any familiar faces from the first audition, but knew no one there. When I finally got called, I went up to the front of the room with three other hopefuls. We all had chance to solve three puzzles. I ended up solving all three! I felt on top of the world!
After that round, they started to make cuts. They kept some of us for a final test, and let several others go home. They narrowed us down to about 15-20 people to take a timed, written puzzle test. I got many of the puzzles and felt strong about my chances. We left that day knowing that if we were selected, we would get a letter in the mail within two weeks. I kept an eye on the mailbox every day! Finally, one day, a single letter slipped in the mail slot, and it had Wheel of Fortune in the top left corner. I knew it! I was going to be on the show! Finally, my chance had come! Tune in to see my dreams come true on Wednesday, October 5th!