A: This 56-year old Glendale resident recently crossed an item off her bucket list when she appeared on the prime-time TV game show “Jeopardy!” starring host Alex Trebek.
Q: Who is Brenda Gant?
On Friday at 9 p.m., Gant will convene with friends and loved ones at a private viewing party to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity two decades in the making.
TV sets will be tuned to ABC-7, following the U.S. Democratic Presidential Debate, where Gant will be one of three contestants competing for cash and glory during a delayed airing of the famed quiz show.
In a recent interview with the Valley Sun, the Glendale resident explained she took an online qualifying test in March 2018 and was told producers consider candidates for an 18-month period. The last time she’d taken the test, with her father 20 years earlier, it hadn’t resulted in a callback.
So, when 17 months passed, Gant figured she was out of the running.
But then the call came: Could she come to a hotel near the studio in Culver City, where she’d be given a 50-question paper test? That’s when the studying began in earnest, Gant recalled.
“I went over to the La Cañada Library, and the librarian there was so excited he got me a bunch of books that would be helpful,” she said, recalling attempts to memorize lists of people and places and watching numerous videos. “One book I read completely was like a junior high textbook on American history.”
She breezed through her strong subjects — history, language, religion and geography — while clearing a ragged path through less familiar ones, like opera, Shakespearean works and Oscars trivia.
After that test, the Glendale resident was told to appear at a studio taping for an episode that would appear after the game show’s “Greatest of All Time” tournament aired in early January. She later learned the show would air Feb. 7.
While her Nov. 20 studio visit lasted the better part of a day, Gant can’t recall with much fidelity her on-camera time, due to the adrenaline rush of the competition itself.
“You just try not to bomb or embarrass yourself or faint from fright,” she said. “If you have hair falling in your eyes, you have to ignore the hair. You have to be in the game. You can’t allow anything to distract you — it’s fast and it’s intense.”
Despite the nerves, Gant said meeting Trebek and peeking behind the curtain of one of her favorite shows was unforgettable. During two sessions of banter with contestants, he inquired about her time spent living in Saudi Arabia.
She also fondly recalled the host speaking with audience members on breaks between taping. Trebek, 79, announced to viewers last year he was battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer and would soon step down, though a final date has not yet been announced.
For Gant, who cannot reveal how well she did in the game before the show’s air date, it was an experience she’ll treasure for years to come.
“I’m very proud I actually did it,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life.”