Dreams for $1,000, Alex
Fall 2018 | By Erin Fender
An avid reader, host to an Animaniacs podcast, and takes Yoda on all her travels.
Who is Kelly Adams?
For most of her life, Kelly has been an avid watcher of “Jeopardy!”, the classic tv game show known as America’s Favorite Quiz Show that has stumped millions for more than 50 years.
Like many tv viewers, she has often dreamed of sharing the stage with host Alex Trebek to showcase her trivia knowledge.
Kelly, who works as an executive assistant in the Division of Business and Operations at Clayton State University, is chasing her dream, auditioning since 2000 to be one of the selected few to secure a cherished spot as a contestant on the game show.
“I’ve watched ‘Jeopardy!’ since I was a little kid. I’d watch it in the mornings in the summer and dreamed of one day being a contestant. I remember in 5th grade my teacher would wheel in a big tv in class and let us watch Final Jeopardy, and I always took it seriously even though we didn’t wager money but jelly beans,” says Kelly.
The process is more arduous than one might think. In the early years when Kelly tried out, tests were held locally at hotels, and only if you passed the test could one move on to the audition.
Today, the process has been streamlined to include an online 50 question test that individuals can take every 18 months.
“I’ve read that about 70,000 take the test, 2500 – 3000 are invited to auditions, and 400 get chosen to appear on the show,” Kelly explains. “I take to heart that the recent winner of the Teachers Tournament tried out for over 15 years before finally landing a coveted contestant spot.”
During the audition process, applicants are interviewed and put through mock games. With so few contestants selected for the on-air broadcast, competition is intense. Once a person has auditioned, he or she remains in a contestant pool for 18 months. If a finalist has not been called for the show within that timeframe, then they have to start the audition process over again.
Kelly recently auditioned for the second time this past spring in Orland, Florida and now is in the pool for potential contestants.
“It’s an amazing feeling. To know you’re in the top four percent to have gotten that far is so exciting,” Kelly says. “The auditions are supposed to be fun, and they are, but there’s also that feeling of being back in school and taking an exam.”
During her first audition, Kelly was a bundle of nerves and the producers picked up on it. For her second time, she was much more relaxed.
“I’d been through it before, and I knew they wanted people who could speak loudly and clearly, move through the clues quickly, and didn’t look terrified on camera,” she laughs.
Perhaps one of the coolest experiences of the second audition for her was the surprise appearance of Jimmy from the Clue Crew. For all the “Jeopardy!” fans, he reminisced on his experiences and working with Trebek.
Kelly’s passion for travel and books have certainly broadened her knowledge in areas of history, geography, and landmarks. She hosts a regular podcast on all things Animaniacs, a Warner Brothers animated television series that was a Saturday morning cartoon favorite for ‘90s kids.
She’s also a huge fan of Steven Spielberg and John Williams, and she’s a big aficionada of the Star Wars character Yoda. She even travels with a Yoda figurine on all her trips around the world for good luck.
“I’m also a voracious reader and at any time have three to four books I’m reading. There are also a lot of pop culture questions on Jeopardy, so my movie-watching and Netflix-binging have helped as well,” Kelly smirks.
One of the perks at the Orlando audition is that she was able to visit Disney World. She even made it 10 times around the Mad Tea Party teacups, a personal best.
As for what keeps her pushing to fulfill her lifelong dream? Kelly says its the wise words of Yoda that encourages her to until she gets the call she’s been hoping for.
“Try not. Do, or do not, there is no try.” - Yoda