Scripps student competes on "Jeopardy!"

By Alexandra Vallas ‘15Copy Editor

Scripps has been abuzz lately with talk of Hannah Shoenhard (‘14), who will be making her appearance on the May 6 episode of “Jeopardy!” as part of the College Championship. Though we couldn’t ask her how she did, The Scripps Voice sat down with her to ask her about her preparation strategies, Alex Trebek, and her experience on the show.

What was the audition process like?

The first part was easy—I just took the online test. Much later, I got an email saying they wanted me to try out in person at a hotel in Culver City. At the hotel I got to meet people from all over the country and the Los Angeles region. We took another written test and also [got] to try a little more realistic gameplay.

Oddly, the part I was most nervous for was the part where we had to tell a story about ourselves. I talked about rescuing a baby calf with my grandparents, which I think was a little different subject matter from what most people were doing.

Even after the audition, though, I didn’t feel like I’d succeeded particularly until I got a phone call in the middle of class saying they wanted me on the show.

What did you do to prepare? How did you decide what to wear?

There’s a website that archives all the old “Jeopardy!” games, but I didn’t actually spend as much time there as I thought I would. In general I tried to pay more attention to random facts that were coming up in my day-to-day life.

Actually, the people with the show pretty much set the parameters for what we could wear: no tennis shoes, no jeans, and our college hoodie. I borrowed my little sister’s purple Scripps hoodie for luck.

What was it like to meet Alex Trebek? How did all the contestants on the show get along?

Alex Trebek was really nice, although I didn’t get to talk with him much outside the context of the filming itself.

After our game, we did get to speak briefly with him (the part where the credits roll over the contestants), and we talked about “The Princess Bride,” which the other contestants were watching in the green room.

What was the hardest part of being on the show?

Hmm...I was very nervous before the game, but once the questions started coming, I was mostly just focused. They were coming so quickly there wasn’t time for me to think about anything else, honestly! I also got lucky in that mine was the very first game we filmed, so I didn’t have to sit in the green room getting nervous for very long.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

Meeting the other contestants, definitely! They were all so cool and had all these wonderful projects going, and they came from all over the country. We bonded very quickly, I think due to the uniqueness of our experience. Everyone was supportive of everyone else. When I was watching the other games being played, I had no idea who to root for.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Since I’m on the staff of [in]visible, I feel like I’m contractually obligated to say this: you know how on TV, everybody looks fantastic, even the supposedly average Joes on game shows? They look fantastic because they’ve been completely covered in makeup by professional makeup artists. It doesn’t even look like it (my own mother was in the audience, and she could barely tell I was wearing any), because the makeup artists are just that good, but trust me. SO. MUCH. MAKEUP. When I took it off in the hotel room that evening, it took both sides of an entire washcloth to get what I thought was all of it off. And then I took a phone call, and when I hung up my phone was covered in orange.

Any pointers for potential future contestants from Scripps?

Even if you don’t make it on the first audition, keep trying! A couple of my fellow contestants had tried out four times. Sometimes it takes persistence just to get on the show, but really, getting on the show is the hard part. Once you get there, a lot of it is luck: the categories, where the Daily Doubles are, what your fellow contestants know, and, of course, the buzzer. So just relax and try to have fun with it. And watch me play on Monday, May 6!