Exclusive: Andie DeKroon and Jenna Sykes talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 10/04/2010
Andie DeKroon and Jenna Sykes thought they were in good shape in advance to the third leg of The Amazing Race's seventeenth edition when they left the second leg's Roadblock task in sixth place with four teams behind them.
However a lost taxi driver caused them to arrive in last place at their next location and they never recovered from the incident -- resulting in the "Birth Mother/Daughter" team becoming the second team eliminated from the competition during Sunday night's broadcast of The Amazing Race's second episode.
On Monday, Andie and Jenna talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including why their taxi problems were so ironic, what they thought about the Race's Ghana leg, and how they decided that racing around the world on national television when they'd never previously met was the best way to get to know each other better.
Reality TV World: You were the sixth team to leave the Roadblock but ended up being the last team to arrive at the Detour task. Do you think that was the key thing that resulted in your elimination?
Andie DeKroon: Oh totally -- well the bad cab driver.
Jenna Sykes: Andie, you explain, you're really good at explaining the whole cab thing from the beginning.
Andie DeKroon: Okay, what happened in the beginning was we had actually researched online in London how to get from the airport in Accra to the memorial, so we had a map and everything.
And our first cab driver, we showed him the map and he said, "Okay." And then he took us a roundabout way and it was really frustrating, because we made it that memorial last! It was all the cab driver, that first time.
Then, we went to the Roadblock, Jenna did great, we had passed some teams, we were really getting the momentum going, we were working great together -- and then we got in another bad cab! (laughs)
And this one, he kept telling us that he knew where the place was, this market, but he ended up taking us all the way to the other side of the city from where we needed to be. It was so frustrating, because it was it was totally out of our control.
Reality TV World: So about how much time do you think you lost, going across town in the wrong direction like that?
Andie DeKroon: Well I had no awareness of time. [Jenna], did you even notice? For me there wasn't much awareness of time as we went through the Race, it was just rush, rush, rush and I don't know exactly how long it was.
Jenna Sykes: I do know we finished the Roadblock right before Jill and Thomas, so who knows if we might have finished around there had we had a good taxi driver.
Reality TV World: Last night's show made it look like the teams were being approached pretty much every time you stopped during your initial taxi rides to the memorial, was that the case or did the editing just overstate it?
Andie DeKroon: There were always people around our cars, yes, trying to sell us something or begging. At one point our car got swarmed, but they didn't show that.
Reality TV World: I may be wrong, but it looked like you guys were the only ones that gave anyone any money. What were your thoughts on that, do you think the other teams were just really concerned about the budget they had?
Andie DeKroon: I do think that's the concern, because it is kind of scary, because you only have a certain amount of money and you don't want to blow it and then need it later. But we just couldn't resist, these little kids. It was just the saddest thing, you really wanted to help. I wish we could have done more.
Reality TV World: I know you mentioned you didn't have much concept of time, but do you have any idea about how far behind Gary and Mallory you got to the Pit Stop? Based on what they showed last night, it looked like you already knew you were last when you were wandering up.
Jenna Sykes: We thought we were last, we were pretty sure we were last. But I think it really did turn out to be only a matter of a few minutes, to be honest.
Reality TV World: Unlike most of the other teams, you two seemed to stay remarkably calm throughout your time in the Race. Did you notice that while you were out there, and what do you attribute that to -- was that an intentional decision or is that just your natural personalities?
Jenna Sykes: That was really fun to see because Andie and I both have very similar temperaments, we've come to find. And in an emergency situation or a crisis -- when something is just falling around or going crazy -- we both just get really calm and focused.
We were freaking out inside and some people we like, "How are you not just losing it right now?" We were losing it inside, we really were. But our personalities just made ourselves buckle down and focus and stay determined and not get distracted.
That was one of the great benefits of no knowing each other and having the relationship that we do, and having similar personalities. We didn't waste time yelling at each other, we didn't waste time doubting each other or whatever. We just trusted each other and went with that.
Andie DeKroon: One thing I want to say about that is JEnna and I knew this was going to basically be our only extended period of time together ever, and we weren't about to waste it fighting. (laughs)
Jenna Sykes: (laughs)
Andie DeKroon: And when we see some of the other teams fight, I guess they know they can go home and be together. We didn't take it for granted, our time together.
Reality TV World: Jenna, you seemed to start the sunglass Roadblock well after everyone but Mallory, but still ended up finishing ahead of quite a few teams. How did that happen?
Jenna Sykes: Personally, I'm not sure. I just kept it in my head," You can't be shy Jenna, this is the one time in your life you've just got to put it all out there and talk to people."
The last lady that came up and bought two sunglasses, I really was feeling that she was awesome and I think that came across that I was genuinely feeling that she was awesome in both pairs of sunglasses. (laughs)
So you just had to be true to how you were feeling, and I was just feeling that I needed to get out there and sell some sunglasses. (laughs)
Andie DeKroon: She's just really good with people and all her clients left with big smiles on their faces. She was awesome at it.
Reality TV World: What did you two think about Brook's "promise them a kiss" sales strategy?
Andie DeKroon and JennaSykes: (laugh)
Jenna Sykes: Whatever works.
Andie DeKroon: Yeah... not my style but it works for her. (laughs)
Reality TV World: Do you think it played a big role in why she was the first one to finish?
Andie DeKroon: I think she's very determined anyway, she's real fierce competitor anyway.
Jenna Sykes: Yeah, clearly Brook and Claire are very good salespeople, I just think that they were being good salespeople.
Reality TV World: Were you two aware of that frantic-looking taxi race that Nat and KAt and Connor and Jonathan had at the end of the leg?
Andie DeKroon: We were in our own for a while.
Jenna Sykes: Yeah, we created a middle lane as well, with our horn blaring the whole time and just racing to the Pit Stop.
Andie DeKroon: When we finally got away from the bad cab driver who was taking us so far out of way and we found a real good one, he did everything he could at the end to make it up for us -- driving through those middle lanes and beeping his horn. It was kind of scary but it was exciting. I just really trusted him, he was awesome and he did everything he could be it still wasn't quite enough.
Reality TV World: During your introduction video in the premiere, you guys mentioned that the first time you heard each other's voices was during your application videos. Can you talk a little bit about how that happened and why you guys decided to put yourselves in such a potentially high-stress situation for the first time you got to know each other? How did that all come about?
Andie DeKroon: Sure, I think it's important to note that we have been writing letters to each other for a year and a half. No emails or phone calls, we wanted to take it slow, but you can actually get to know someone really well.
And we knew that we had so much in common as far as a love of travel and adventure, and that we were both kind of daring people. So when I saw that Jenna had tweeted "watching The Amazing Race, I want to do it," I was like "Oh wow, that would be so awesome because I love that show too" and I just asked her.
And she immediately said, "Oh my gosh, yes!" We don't think that this would work for every parent and child, but we knew enough about each other to know that it was something we both would really love. And we knew that we would never have time together like this any other way.
To be together without the distractions of our families or friends and work and school and all that, this would be like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something fun and adventurous and then get to know each other at the same time.
Reality TV World: So you two had already been exchanging letters for over a year before you suggested going on the Race?
Andie DeKroon: Right. For almost two years, yes.
Reality TV World: Jenna, what was your reaction when Andie made the suggestion?
Jenna Sykes: (laughs)
Actually, I'll be honest with you, I read the message that she sent me asking me to do it, and it was one of those moments that are so hard to explain, but you just realize your whole life just changed.
I literally sat there for a second and just took it all in. Because I felt that we had to do it, it was going to happen, and we were going to go on the Race. We were going to do this together.
I originally did get that feeling of, "This is going to happen and your life has changed." It was pretty overwhelming, but we were very determined to make it happen for us.
Reality TV World: Had either one of you ever applied with somebody else before?
Andie DeKroon: No.
Jenna Sykes: No.
Reality TV World: How soon after you two heard each other's voices in the application video did you meet in person? Did that also actually happen during the casting process?
Andie DeKroon: After we found out that they were considering us as finalists, then I had already been talking with Jenna's mom for a while about planning what the perfect way to meet would be for our families. And we ended up meeting at my home, with my children and husband and mother, and Jenna came with her parents and we had just a wonderful meeting. Real private and good.
And then a few days later, we flew out to the finals together in L.A.
Reality TV World: And that was kind of the second time [before the Race that] you two got to see each other?
Andie DeKroon: Right. We talked non-stop for four hours straight on the plane -- a feel sorry for the person next to us because it was really the first time we'd been alone. (laughs)
That whole time in L.A. was great, we got to know each other really well. By the time we went on the Race, we knew more about each other than you would think. But it was only our third time being together.
Reality TV World: How have things been going for you two since the Race ended? I know you obviously got to spend a lot of time together at Elimination Station after you got eliminated, but have you been able to continue getting to know each other better since then?
Jenna Sykes: We have been keeping in touch over e-mail and we'll send each other text messages during the show if we think something is funny -- that kind of thing. We live in different places, but we definitely want to stay in touch and I consider Andie a friend, and I know she considers me a friend. And that's where we wanted our relationship, to be on a level where if we need to talk to each other we can, we're friends and we're really at peace with this.
Reality TV World: Andie, you have ten other children ranging from 18 months to 18 years, according to your bio.
Andie DeKroon: Right.
Reality TV World: What was the reaction when they heard this plan that you wanted to go on the Race with Jenna?
Andie DeKroon: Well luckily they had always known about Jenna, I had never hidden it from them. So they were so excited just to get to know her, just to get to meet her and everything. But the idea of the Race, they all love the show -- the older ones watch it and everything -- and hey were so excited for us to go and be on it together.
I think I went from "really boring mom" to "rock star" overnight. (laughs)
All of the sudden I was more interesting to them. They just enjoyed this whole thing, I mean you should have seen them watching the premiere. We had a big party and everything and they were just so supportive.
In fact, when I was worried about not going because of just the logistics of leaving may family for that long -- I've never left them before -- they wouldn't let me hear of it. They were like, "You're doing this mom!"
They were very supportive.
Reality TV World: I know you didn't get to spend a lot of time with them during the Race, but what were your thoughts on the other teams -- were there any in particular that your considered a big threat or the favorites to win?
Jenna Sykes: Well, from the very beginning at the Boston airport we formed a pretty strong connection with Connor and Jonathan, the a cappella singers. We absolutely adore them, they stopped and helped us on the first leg when we burned out the clutch and just doing that shows that they are just extraordinary people.
We really bonded with them in that short amount of time, so that was the closest we got with another team.
Andie DeKroon: And as far as who we wanted to win, we're fans, and in past seasons there are always people you don't like, [that] you don't want to win when you're watching. (laughs)
But we were so happy because we really liked all of the other teams. It made the Race more fun, getting to run it with people that you really like and enjoy being around. So when we left the Race, we really thought we'd be happy to see any of these people win and they all deserve it.
Reality TV World: What was your favorite moment during your time out there?
Jenna Sykes: You go first because you know yours and I always have to think about it...
Andie DeKroon: Okay... the moment that stands out for me is just running through Heathrow airport so fast and we had allied with the Princeton guys and we have run and run and everybody as we went by was screaming "Oh, it's The Amazing Race!" and clapping and clapping.
That was exciting, you know, for a non-celebrity just to feel like one for a couple of minutes. (laughs)
Then when we got to customs, and a lot of the people there standing there moved out of the way and let us in front of them, because they could see it was a race.
And then as we got to the front, Connor and Jonathan turned around and started singing thank you and it was just this awesome moment because you could see how it made everybody's day and everybody was all smiles. That was just so much fun.
Reality TV World: How about you Jenna?
Jenna Sykes: Um... let me think. I definitely think the castle, on the first leg. Just being able to go to places like that was a really kind of out-of-body experience -- "I can't believe I am in a castle on The Amazing Race with my birth mother."
I just had to look around me and everything was beautiful. I was in a really good place. That was probably my favorite part, just soaking that moment up.