This Week's Contestant
|Hometown:||New Orleans, LA|
I grew up watching Wheel of Fortune every night at dinner with my parents, racing to see who could solve the puzzles first - so I've always been a player and a fan. I actually started signing up to be a contestant as soon as I was old enough to be on Family Week, but my Dad and I never got selected.
Fast forward to my senior year at Tulane University... I'd started to think I would never get picked to be on Wheel until I saw the most AMAZING thing on campus: THE WHEELMOBILE! When I found out they were casting for College Week, I raced to the auditorium to try out. This was my chance! Soon after, I got an email inviting me to auditions, which were super fun - we played quick rounds while the casting crew looked out for great contestant potential, and then we took a timed written test of puzzles which were actually pretty tough. I made it to the final round of auditions and was told I'd know if I had been chosen for College Week within a few weeks, and if not, I'd be added to a list for future opportunities. I waited and waited, but no letter came. I was heartbroken; since I was graduating, I wouldn't have another chance to compete on College Week.
Then, when I least expected it, I got a phone call from an unknown number on a random Tuesday in September. I stepped out of my office to return the call, and I'm SO glad I did - Wheel of Fortune wanted me to be on the show! At first I was worried; "But I can't be on College Week, I already graduated!" (Thankfully they wanted me for the regular "real adult show.") My parents and I were so excited as we booked our flights to LA that night and then I began my preparation.
Probably the toughest part of getting ready for the show was picking out an outfit. (There are a surprising amount of restrictions about wardrobe, because the crew wants everyone to look their best on camera.) Over the next two weeks I played practice Wheel games - one of my friends even surprised me with an old Wheel handheld game from her childhood! I watched shows more closely and "researched" online to see if I could pick up any tips, tricks, or secrets to success. Can you tell I was determined to do well?
I could barely sleep the night before taping, and the contestant shuttle from the hotel to the studio left pretty early in the morning. Since they film multiple episodes in one day, there were 14 other contestants with me on the set - which, by the way, was surreal. It was crazy to be there in person after seeing the game on tv for so many years! We spent the morning going over some legal stuff and rules of the game, getting our makeup touched up for those HD cameras, and practicing for the show. They're right when they say it's much harder than it seems at home - if the lights and that big camera aren't enough to make you nervous, there's a lot to look at and remember in addition to concentrating on solving puzzles... and that wheel is SO heavy! The crew (and Pat and Vanna) really make you feel comfortable despite inevitable nerves. My episode was the last of the day to be taped, so I tried to relax as I watched my contestant friends play their games.
Before I knew it I was taking my place behind the wheel. As the lights came up, the audience clapped and cheered, and Pat and Vanna walked out on stage - I was so nervous and excited I didn't know how I could possibly play the game, but it was time to start! You'll have to watch my show on Monday, March 5th to see how I did!