Davita Curtis with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! (Courtesy/ Kelly Thomas)
When Davita Curtis walked across the polished floors of the Jeopardy! stage in Culver City, California, she kept thinking: “Don’t slip.”
Curtis, 56, had spent years trying to get on the game show and had finally made it. The Salem resident was afraid she would freeze up, but that didn’t happen.
“I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I didn’t make a fool of myself.”
On Wednesday, Venti’s Café at 325 Court St. N.E. is hosting a watch party for the episode at 6:30 p.m. The episode will also air on KATU at 7 p.m.
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Years ago, the retired court clerk from Las Vegas registered online and took a test that the game show puts out once a year. She said it was fun taking the test, typing out answers in less than 15 seconds.
Curtis didn’t know if she passed, but she got a phone call in 2007 asking her to come in for an audition. She tried out a few times after that. Her most recent audition was in January 2017.
Last year, Curtis moved to Salem with her fiancé, Kelly Thomas, and their 8-year-old German Shepherd, Zander.
Curtis remembers reading that contestant James Holzhauer, best known for his 32-game winning streak, read children’s books to prepare for the show because they explain concepts in an easier, more engaging format. She said she’d been doing that before she even heard that was his method.
When Curtis first moved to Oregon, she picked up a children’s book to learn some basic facts about the state. She likes how green it is, and how the leaves change colors with the seasons.
Throughout the years, Curtis said auditioning was good practice to keep mentally alert, plus there was always the possibility of getting on the game show, now in its 36th season.
In September, Curtis got her chance.
With just a few weeks to prepare, she headed to the Salem Library and grabbed an armful of books. Curtis said she tried to brush up on her weakest subject -- science. She also started watching more TV to review pop culture references.
As she got ready to fly to California, it felt surreal, she said, “Like I’m watching somebody go through that experience.”
Curtis couldn’t reveal any questions that will be featured in the upcoming episode but did say that studying geography was helpful.
She said her friends were all excited about her debut, telling her she had finally made it.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Curtis said.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.