A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet come across my feed that announced an open call for Millionaire contestants in NYC. This sounded like a hilarious opportunity (and also one that matches my interest in both trivia and being on television), so I signed up for an audition. My dates were confirmed a couple days later: May 30th, 5 pm at the ABC building on the Upper West Side. It was all happening.
The email I got told me the audition would consist of a written quiz, then if you pass, you get an interview. So over the next 10 days, I made sure play the shitty Millionaire app on my phone as much as I could in preparation for the big day. I won the million on the day before my audition. I am thrilled, I am confident.
I also played the Facebook game for a few rounds and lose miserably. The rules have changed since the Regis days, I learn. There is no more phone a friend. You get a random list of topics, and each answer is worth a mystery amount of money. It’s all so new and I feel like an idiot for feeling so confident. Do I know anything? Will they ask me math questions? What if I fail the test?
So it’s the day of the audition. I don’t work on Fridays, which is great. I have a leisurely morning, play a few rounds of the Facebook game (I lose so badly), get beautiful (nbd), head down there around 3 and plan to charm the pants off whoever chooses contestants for Millionaire.
I also complete this application form. It asks normal things like, “have you ever competed before”? But also more personal questions like, “what do you do that makes people laugh?”. I don’t know the answer to this so I make something up.
I wear my new gray dress, and see a lady on the subway wearing the same dress. Twinning!
I get out of the subway at 72nd st, and take a leisurely stroll along Central Park West, feeling fancy. I find the building and notice a lineup along the wall for Millionaire auditions. I am the youngest person there, by far. I play it cool, waiting behind a couple from Allentown, PA, and start live tweeting like a true millennial.
Everyone in line are legit fans. They know it all. They talk about the past hosts, and how Cedric the Entertainer took some getting used to. One guy clearly knows the ropes - he’s auditioned 5 times. He made it into the audience once, and got a glimpse of fame. He wants this. He’s studying. He explains, it’s a 10 minute test and you have to answer 30 questions (EASY, I think). He says there will definitely be math questions. I start dying inside.
The folks in front of me talk about past episodes - ones where people got questions wrong about how many supreme court justices there are or something and how STUPID of them. I panic. I don’t know ANY of this. I google how many supreme court justices, how many senators and congressmen. KPan asks me on Twitter how much American trivia I know. I answer confidently (I took one class on US history in University, so I am basically an encyclopedia), but now realize I know nothing (we’ll get back to this).
The wrangler comes outside to check us in. She is very loud and extremely friendly and enthusiastic. She is trying to pump up the crowd. She is screaming in my face “WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH A MILLION DOLLARS”. I think to myself - nothing exciting. The people around me want to buy cars and go on vacations and gamble and all I want to do is pay off my student loans. I think this might be a “cute” answer because of how old I am compared to the rest of the lineup, so I go for that. No one cares about my student loans.
The line starts moving. We are led into a room that looks like it is a lunch room. There is a solid Top 40 playlist blasting, and the staff are dancing. We go through a metal detector. There is a cardboard cutout of Terry Crews, the new host. I am nervous we are supposed to take pictures with him, but luckily that never happens. There are a few staff leading us to tables, which have envelopes, pencils and scantron cards on them. I sit with the couple from Allentown, and a lady from Connecticut. They are all nice. The lady from CT is so nervous. She is staying in an expensive hotel this weekend with her husband, so I hope that she passes the test!
The guy who auditioned 5 times tells everyone about what to expect. He tells them you HAVE to answer all of the questions FAST because its only 10 minutes. He talks to one of the staff, and tells them about how exciting it felt to just be a member of the audience. He really wants this.
I play it cool. I am good at taking tests, especially multiple choice ones. “When in doubt, pick C” is my mantra. I share it with the table. No one cares.
It’s time to take the test. We memorize the number on our envelopes - this is what will be called out if you make it through to the interviews. The timer starts. I fly through the test, feeling very confident in my answers. I finish right on time, and then chat about answers with the rest of my table. We are all confused because who knew how much a “hand” is in reference to measuring horses? I’ve never heard this term in my life. I make a joke about it and no one laughs.
Only about 20 people passed the test. They call out all the numbers that passed - I am called 2nd to last and am thrilled. The couple from Allentown does not make it, sadly, but the lady from CT does. So does the guy who auditioned 5 times. Good for him.
I head to another table where I write my name on the back of my application form. I meet with a very nice man who loves my arm tattoo and I tell him the weird story about it which he also loves. He asks what I would do with a million dollars and I tell him about my student loans. He also loves this answer. He thinks I am funny and charismatic, and tells me I am mature for my age (????) and puts me through to an on camera interview. I die a little inside, but play it cool.
I sign the release, and am called to a back corner of the lunch room where the casting director has me pretend I am on the show. She says not to look at the camera but I totally do because it’s awkward, and I realize then and there that I can never be an actress because I can’t stop staring at the camera?
She asks me a few questions about myself, and then some Millionaire questions. I am nervous. I don’t let her even give me the multiple choice answers for the first question because DUH the answer is Harper Lee. Correct! The 2nd question is about Theodore Roosevelt. I also just start talking before I get the 4 choices, and try to make a joke about being Canadian. This falls flat, and I also get the answer wrong because I KNOW NOTHING, and also what the eff is a Bull Moose? I remember later that I actually do know, and am an idiot. I play it cool though, because if you get an answer wrong after getting at least 1 answer correct in the first round, I’m pretty sure you still get $1000, so it’s kosher. New rules.
I get 2 more questions, and get both answers correctly. I am very excited. She tells me I can leave, and that they’ll get back to me about being entered into the contestant pool in 2 weeks.
I feel fabulous walking out those doors, and then I start to think about all the things I maybe did wrong and I panic. Why didn’t I let her tell me the answers to the first two questions before I spoke?!? Why didn’t I try and use a lifeline (it wasn’t offered as an option, but I could have tried)?? Why am I THE WORST AND MOST EMBARRASSING PERSON EVER?!?!?!?!? I descend into madness. I decide to walk through the Park to calm down and run into the only other young person who auditioned. He high fives me, tells me he got on camera too and answered everything right. He says “maybe we’ll be on TV together”, and we part ways.
I sit and watch a softball game and then decide to walk to 29th & Broadway to see Laura and Ed. I get stuck in Times Square for what feels like a century, but finally make it to their hotel. We each drink a beer and go to Greenpoint for dinner and meet up with John. We get pizzas and picklebacks at Lulus. We go to Torst and get ciders and beers. We go to The Woods and drink the shot/beer combo 2 times and dance for hours to a GREAT mix of tunes.
Yesterday was a highlight. I kind of love New York.