Oct 16, 2016 04:00AM
By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
"At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”
There’s no greater certainty than that of an armchair game show contestant. Answers flow easily from a cushy couch, with the benefit of comfy pants, snacks, and extra seconds to spare before buzzing in via the customary shout at the TV screen.
Now, name something that might derail the masterful omnipotence of such astute sofa spuds. Survey says…the lights, camera, action, live studio audience, and split-second pressure of actually appearing on Family Feud, as several Omaha families discovered.
“We’ve always watched the show, yelling answers at the TV, feeling like we knew more than the contestants. So when auditions came to Omaha, we jumped right on it,” says Danita Webb, who joined sisters Dorotha Rohlfsen, Darnisha Ladd, Sherita White, and Beverly Tate to compete as the White Family.
The fivesome played mock games for producers at the October 2014 audition, alongside hundreds of local families.
“You would’ve thought there really was $20,000 on the line, because we were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other. It was awesome,” says Webb.
One Friday night the following January, Webb and some of her sisters were together when the good news arrived.
“My sister checked her mail and found this blue postcard from Family Feud that said ‘Congratulations!’ and we just went crazy,” says Webb.
The Franklin Family also received that lucky, blue-hued golden ticket to the Feud.
Cydney Franklin—who competed with sister Lindsey Franklin, mother Brigette Law Franklin, father Frederick Franklin, and aunt Patricia Franklin—says her mother urged the family to audition in matching “We Don’t Coast” T-shirts displaying their Omaha pride.
“Our family is really close,” says Franklin. “(Auditioning) was mostly just something to do for fun together that actually turned into us getting on the show.”
Six more Omaha-area families made the cut—the Quaites, Coffiels, Shanks, McIntoshes, Kirshenbaums, and Skaffs. But only the White and Franklin families would return from their Atlanta tapings victorious. The Whites won two games, including one Fast Money round victory, and the Franklins took it all the way to game five, the maximum number of games each family can compete in, with five straight victories landing them on the platform with the grand prize car. They may have made it look easy, but both women say their victories were hard fought.
“You really earn that money,” says Webb. “You have to make sure you’re smiling, clapping, thinking of your next answer. There’s so much going on that it can be stressful. At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”
“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together. We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”
While it was her family’s fun-loving energy that got them on the show, Franklin says they realized it was serious business when they arrived in the Atlanta studio. Although they went on to win five games, she says they waited a day and a half to be plucked from the audience to compete, then nearly lost their first game.
“It was one of the most intense moments of my life,” says Franklin. “We’d gone through so much to get to that point and then were sure we were going to lose, but at the last second my sister came through with the answer—I don’t know how she did it—and we won. We came back the next morning and just kept winning.”
Both women agree it wasn’t all nail-biting nervousness, thanks to congenial host Steve Harvey.
“He is a riot,” says Webb. “You’re so nervous at first, but he really helps you let loose and have fun.”
“Steve is hilarious, and each episode is almost like a comedy show,” says Franklin. “He’s also really inspiring. At commercial break he shares these uplifting, inspirational messages about being your best self, fulfilling your dreams, and about himself overcoming his own obstacles and hurdles in life.”
Webb and White say that while the prize money was wonderful, it’s the family bonding around celebrating their accomplishment they cherish most.
“Running out onstage to celebrate winning with my sisters was awesome,” says Webb. “It was especially meaningful to us because we tried out in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am a seven-year breast cancer survivor. We all wore pink when we auditioned and then on the show a year later, too. It was amazing to create those memories together and celebrate that great accomplishment.”
“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together,” says Franklin. “We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”
Following two 14-hour studio days, the Franklins finished their third day at about 3 p.m.
“We walked out of the building, and it was the first day we’d left that the sun was still shining. So we were all joking like, ‘Was this a dream? Did this actually happen?’”
For at-home champs aspiring to transition from couch to soundstage, Franklin and Webb suggest folks bring a lively energy, but one that truthfully reflects their family’s authentic personality.
“Make sure that you bring that family togetherness and have an enthusiastic personality,” says Webb. “You definitely have to turn it up if you’re going to be on the show.”
Visit familyfeud.com for more information.