Since my return to running four years ago after almost losing life and limb, I have been saying, I have a dream (it sounds best read in a MLK voice, which is how I typed it) of being a contestant on CBS’s The Amazing Race.
My friend Linda has helped me with
a few MANY things in my life… ‘politely’ dragging my butt to a counselor in the thick of my depression, encouraging me when I returned to running, starting a running club with me, taking the picture for the cover of Because I Can and more!
Plus, she’s done many things I haven’t… she’s been playing racquetball on a mostly men’s league for 20+ years. Plus, she biked 25 miles and ran 25 miles on her 50th birthday (oh, of course, I haven’t done that, unlike her, I’m not 50 yet) Plus, she won two lean-and-mean contests at her gym (which means she dropped her body fat to -2% or something like that)
So when I thought about a teammate for The Amazing Race… Linda was it.
Linda and I ready for our Amazing Race auditions
You can apply for the race in two ways… send in a video or go to an open casting call. Linda and I thought we’d be better in person (ha!) than on a video, so when we heard there was a casting call about an hour’s drive from us, we scoured the internet for information and wrote a one-minute audition . We had it critiqued/edited by a friend or two and our adult children. Then we practiced. Practiced. Practiced.
The night before the audition, we found info that said it could be an interview style audition, so we tried to figure out how to fit our dazzling prepared speal into interview questions.
On the appointed day, we head to Seasons Pizza in Wilmington, DE and repeatedly ask each other why they’d have an audition at a pizza shop. (It was a large pizza shop that could almost handle the auditions)
Seasons Pizza, Wilmington, DE
We arrive at 7:30am for the 2 to 5pm auditions and find a few early birds there already. The first two teams had arrived the night before and slept on the concrete sidewalk. We set up lawn chairs and take our place as the 6th team in line. Additional contestants trickle in over the next few hours and then around noon it becomes a steady stream until around 300 teams wrap around the building.
We pass the morning becoming bffs with the other contestants around us and until eleven, when Seasons opens, we take multiple trips to nearby Lucky’s Coffee Shop either buying something and leaving something.
Local media arrives and we cheer like kids seeing an ice cream truck and we take pictures (bored much?) Feeling excited and optimistic about everything.
Guys in suits arrive around noon and we respectfully cheer. And get ready… change shirts, brush hair and do makeup. Slightly nervous now.
Some contestants use their energy to provide entertainment with their superb dancing skills.
Soon after 1pm, one of the suits walks by and says they’ll start in about 15 or 20 minutes. And I spase. (just ask Linda—on second thought, don’t) Extreme nervous energy.
About 35 minutes later, they come out and call the first two teams in. Nervous, but focused, repeating my schtick in my mind.
Six minutes later, they call the next two teams. More nerves, not focusing on my schtick anymore.
And then five minutes later, we are in the door. I have no idea what I was feeling at this time.
First stop: Registration table. Hand them our signed waivers. Give our name, email address and phone number. Receive a yellow paper and are told to stand in line at another yellow paper taped to a post in the dining room where customers are having lunch.
Second stop: Yellow sign on post. Except it isn’t really a stop, as we walk toward it a woman approaches us and said, “We’re ready for you.”
Third stop: In front of an empty booth in the back of the dining room facing a camera with one men behind it, one beside it and a woman with a CBS shirt to his side. I notice another audition camera and crew in the other corner of the dining room. I’m handed a mic. (I assume greetings are exchanged, but I don’t remember.)
Camera guy says, “Three, two, one… camera is on.”
“Tell me your names, where you are from and how you know each other.”
I do that and hold the mic over to Linda. I’m sure I have a deer-in-headlights look, because I like to adjust to my surroundings before plunging into anything, especially an audition.
The nice camera guy asks something about how we met and I hold the mic over to Linda. She answers and we pause… looking at the camera guys like kids waiting to be told what to do next.
This is when I miss our cue!
I should have plunged into the dazzling audition we had prepared which highlighted our relationship and some of our accomplishments and ended with my “Because I Can” story.
Apparently I’m not as good on the spot as I thought I would be.
I think the camera guy asks another question or two about The Amazing Race, which Linda or I answer. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but we mention our running and a few other things, then suddenly he starts saying something about wrapping it up.
I have a severe heart palpitation and finally find my mojo and say, “We have one more thing.”
The nice camera man says, “Sure go ahead.”
I tell them that half the races I had mentioned were done since I have a beat-up body and this leg. Then I pull up my pant leg and pause.
The camera men gasp slightly and ask what happened.
I tell them how I was on a run one minute and the next thing I knew was waking up in a hospital bed to find out that I had almost died and almost lost my leg twelve days earlier. And so on… (I tell my story for roughly a minute, I think) I also show them the copy of my book I’m holding.
Then the interview is over.
I walk outside because I need to breathe. Alone. Frustrated, flustered, frazzled and…
After a minute or two, I walk back in and find Linda. We debrief and realize that we mentioned everything we wanted, except our Amish/Mennonite backgrounds, but none of it was said as smooth or with as much energy as we thought we would. Thankfully something Linda caught gives us a glimmer of hope. As I showed my leg, Linda saw the CBS-shirt woman lean over to the camera men and say, “You need to get this.”
We join our new bffs in the bar to commiserate with food and drinks. We find out that every single team feels exactly like we do about their audition… it went so fast, they feel like they didn’t get to say everything they wanted to.
At one point, I walk back over to the dining room and see that now they have about five teams waiting to audition lined up at each camera station. Which means they can watch a few auditions before it is their turn. I would give anything to have been able to do that!
On the drive home Linda and I rant and rave about the stupid process, our stupid nerves, the stupid Amazing Race… and about how we’ll do our next audition differently. Maybe a video this time.
If there is anything redeemable in our interview… we could hear from them anytime in the next two months. If not, we’ll never hear from them. (until we send them our dazzling, none-frazzled video)
All in all, it was a fun and entertaining day… and it was a learning day. I’m not as good with unexpected processes, changes, cameras and more as I thought I am.
The Amazing Race casting call - Seasons Pizza
Have you (or anyone you know) ever gone to a casting call?