INTERVIEW: Shana Wall, Jennifer McCall dish on 'The Amazing Race'
By Christopher Rocchio, 12/04/2007
Shana Wall and Jennifer McCall feel all the bad directions they received played a more prominent role in their elimination than karma or constant arguing.
Regardless, the friends from Los Angeles, CA became the fifth team ousted from The Amazing Race's twelfth season during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
On Monday, Shana, a 32-year-old actress, and Jennifer, a 32-year-old legal assistant, talked to Reality TV World about how a case of mistaken identity led them to use a U-Turn; why they still don't regret that decision; why one of their numerous wrong turns almost put them in the hospital; how they almost caught a flight that would have changed the complexion of the race; and why they feel they were the victims of poor editing on more than one occasion.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for The Amazing Race 12? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Jennifer: Yeah, it was our first time applying for the show. We sent in a really good tape and... Shana: Well I was approached by one of the casting directors and asked if I wanted to audition for the show. So that was the original way it came about, and then from there we went on and made a tape and did all the auditioning process that everybody else did.
Jennifer: I had seen every episode from every season, and by the end I think Shana almost did too. Shana: Yeah, we were both fans of the show to begin with. But once we knew we were going we went ahead and watched every single one.
Reality TV World: That sounds like something you did to prepare for the show. Did you do anything else to prepare yourselves both physically and mentally for the competition?
Shana: Well, we watched all the shows -- and when we say "watched them" -- we would watch them, pause them, stop them. Jen would look at what everyone was carrying in their backpacks... We watched all the mistakes people made and how we would have done things differently. We watched to find out if there was a pattern in the places that they went to, and then we would go research those places. What their transportation systems were, what languages we needed to brush-up on... All that sort of stuff. Jen did a lot of research on packing -- like we bought tennis shoes that have no shoe laces -- so we would never have a problem of our shoelaces untying and us tripping over them.
Reality TV World: Had either of you previously done a lot of international traveling? Do you know any foreign languages?
Shana: We both traveled extensively... Jen speaks some French and I speak some Italian and some Spanish. We've both traveled internationally a lot. I lived in Italy for a while and Mexico City and I traveled all over South America and Europe. Jen's traveled all over... We totally have the travel bug (laughing)!
Reality TV World: Were there any teams you initially butted heads with? Any teams that you got along with really well?
Jennifer: You know, we were kind of outcasts since the beginning. Shana and I were really on a team of our own, and that's how we wanted to run the race. We did not make alliances with anyone. We had some mini-alliances with ["Sisters" Marianna and Julia Ruiz] on the first leg because everyone else had aligned together... Nobody warmed up to us really, and I don't think they warmed-up to the sisters either. Shana: I felt like I liked the sisters right away. They're just a team that I felt good about and I liked right away. I think a lot of people didn't feel that way about them, but I did. I just liked them. You know, ["Dating Couple" Lorena Segura and Jason Widener] are very nice. We liked them. But like Jen said, we didn't have any alliances at all...
Reality TV World: Who do you think spent more time focusing on their makeup and appearances during the race -- your team or the "Dating Goths" Kynt Cothron and Vyxsin Fiala?
Shana: We spent no time... Jennifer: I think they're switching their make-up! We tried to figure this out. I lost my make-up in Amsterdam, and that's why it was all downhill for me. But we did try to wear make-up... We tried. I really don't know how they did it... Shana: We tried in the beginning or if there was an occasion where we had a hotel, we would wash our hair and freshen up then. But other than that -- when we were running the race and we were not in a hotel or anything like that -- there was no make-up happening except for our lip gloss. We had chapped lips, and we would slap that on often. But that was it. That was literally it. So we were amazed that the Goths put their make-up on. It's one of the wonders (laughing)...
Reality TV World: During the first three legs of the course, you two remained in the middle of the pack. Were you confident that you'd be able to remain in the race without ever being at the front of the pack?
Shana: That's not true... In Episode 2 we tied for second-place [with "Dating Couple" Jennifer Parker and Nathan Hagstrom]. Jennifer: Right, and leaving [Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso] when we got off the plane in [Vilnius, Lithuania], we were second, and I'm not really sure how it was edited that we were fourth out of the parking lot. That's still kind of a mystery to me. We were right behind ["Brother/Sister" team Azaria and Hendekea Azene]. We were actually right ahead of Hendekea and Azaria, but we took a left [out of the airport parking lot] and they took a right... Shana: But I think you're referring to how we tallied at the end of each leg, right?
Reality TV World: Yeah.
Jennifer: We thought we were going to make it to the beginning [of the pack] at this [leg of the race]... and I actually thought we were going to... Shana: We thought we were going to win. We were determined to win... and we could have if it wasn't for the circumstances. Jennifer: We definitely had this race. Our downfall was the navigation: We got lost. But everyone else got lost, we just got lost more. Shana: We got more lost, yeah (laughing)...
Shana: I'll explain this one. We left [the third leg's Pit Stop], and the order in which we left, Jason and Lorena were the only team behind us. They were behind us by like an hour and 20 minutes. So when we finished the Detour and we saw the U-Turn -- we were walking towards that U-Turn box -- I thought I saw Jason and Lorena walking to the box... Jennifer: The clue box. Shana: ... the clue box. So I saw them, and I said... Because there's no one else it could have been because everyone else was ahead of us... or so I thought. I said, "That's Jason and Lorena! They're already here! Oh my God, we don't know how they caught-up with the hour-and-20-minutes." But I said, "If that's them, they're going to do this Detour and they can definitely catch-up, and then it's one or the other. One of us was going to be eliminated, so we had to use the U-Turn." What I realize now is -- after we put the U-Turn on and after watching the show -- it was TK and Rachel going back to the clue box because they had changed. They went to the ["Shake Your Booty" Detour challenge] first, and then walked back to the clue box to do the ["Shake Your Pan" detour challenge]...
Reality TV World: So when was it that you first learned of that mistake?
Shana: Not until after we put the U-Turn on and we were walking away from the clue box, we saw TK and Rachel behind us.
Reality TV World: I see. So what was your reaction when you learned that you'd confused TK and Rachel for Jason and Lorena?
Shana: Well either way it didn't matter to me, because I thought as long as we're not last, somebody's eliminated and it's not us and that's a good thing. If we [used the U-Turn] on TK and Rachel, they still could have caught-up and passed us because they were right there.
Reality TV World: So even knowing it was TK and Rachel behind you and not Jason and Lorena, you still don't regret your decision to U-Turn Jason and Lorena?
Shana: It worked out because we were still on the show and Jason and Lorena were off. Jennifer: It worked out. It might have been interesting if we used it on TK and Rachel, but you know what? That's all... Shana: But we couldn't of [used it on TK and Rachel] because when we used it we did not know they were behind us. So that wasn't an option...
Reality TV World: Jennifer you seemed to regret the decision to use the U-Turn almost immediately after you did it. Was that the case, and if so why?
Jennifer: I mean honestly -- strategically -- I think you should save the U-Turn for later on in the game. [Editor's Note: Each U-Turn obstacle can only be used by one team, and each team can only use a U-Turn once during the entire race.] I just thought we had just finished that Detour, we were on our way to the Roadblock -- or so I thought we were going to go to a Roadblock, that was my assumption -- and I just didn't think that we needed [the U-Turn]. I thought that Jason and Lorena were an hour and 20 minutes behind us -- or maybe even 45 minutes -- and Shana and I really tackled those Roadblocks and Detours. In every episode we excelled, and those were our strongest points. So I just didn't think... and plus we had a taxi-cab driver [to follow], so I didn't think we were going to have a problem getting anywhere and I didn't foresee any problems at the Detours or the Roadblocks for us.
Reality TV World: Jennifer you also commented "karma's a bitch." Do you think karma played a role in your eventual ouster?
Jennifer: It's really editing. When you do something -- and you're not 100% with it -- all these normal thoughts go into your head and you start replaying everything. That was one of the thoughts that I thought. But that's not the most important thought. The most important thought to me was we don't need to use [the U-Turn] this soon in the game. I did say ["karma's a bitch"], yes, and they edited it that way because I think it makes great for TV. So yeah, obviously karma got us, but I don't think that's what got us. Shana: It wasn't karma, because we played an honest, honest game. We never did anything sneaky, underhanded or malicious or lied to anybody or did anything unethical. The U-Turn was a major part of the game -- and we played the game -- so that has nothing to do with karma. If anything, our karma was good because we played very honestly.
Reality TV World: How did the other teams react to you using the U-Turn?
Jennifer: I think we were worried when we first got to the [fourth leg's Pit Stop], what the reaction as going to be. And I think everyone really -- to our face -- supported us. Shana: Yeah, everyone pretty much said that was smart and, "We would have done the same thing." Jennifer: Now watching it back, TK didn't really agree with it. But I... All he had said to me was, "You guys need to really..." I can't really remember verbatim what he said, but it was something like, "You need to stand by your decision," or something like that. And I said, "Yeah. I know. We do." But once I watched it back and I heard him say... Do you know what he said Shana? He made a comment Shana: Yeah, I don't know. But in terms of when we talked to everybody about it -- because we felt bad because we really like Jason and Lorena a lot -- everyone said, "We would have done the same thing. It's a game, don't feel bad about it."
Reality TV World: Did the U-Turn actually increase the amount of bickering between you, or did the show's editing just not show as much of your arguing before then?
Jennifer: They just didn't show any of that. They showed it in the last episode. Shana: They just... Yeah, it was in the editing, you could see us arguing more later. But we spoke that way the whole time. We disagreed on things or bickered about the whole process, but not in an argumentative way. I mean, we weren't ever mad at each other. When it's all said and done, like, we were over it. It was just kind of the way we dealt with our stress and the decision-making process. We did fight the whole time, but no more or less than every other person that was there.
Reality TV World: Do you guys normally bicker that much outside of the race?
Shana: No. When we're in normal life without the extreme hunger and exhaustion and a $1 million race... Those extreme circumstances were definitely it, that's not how we talk.
Reality TV World: Seeing as how it took you from the front of the pack to the back -- as you already mentioned, you were in second leaving the airport -- what led you to take the wrong turn leaving the Vilnius airport? You two took a left when you were supposed to take a right.
Jennifer: We asked the guy standing in the median, which way was... I think it was the A-28 highway. He said it was to the left. So we went left. They didn't show that. Shana: (laughing) We got a lot of bad directions. Jennifer: Yeah, we got really bad directions all the time.
Reality TV World: How long were you lost for?
Jennifer: Well they didn't show this, but we actually circled all the way back around. So it was like an hour and 20 minutes... Shana: I think we drove for about four hours at one point, right? Jennifer: Yeah... Shana: We were lost forever!
Reality TV World: What was going through your mind when you saw that bus bearing down on you? Was it really as close to hitting you as it seemed during the episode?
Shana: It was closer. It actually touched the car. Jennifer: I don't know! I didn't think it was that big of a deal! My car stalled...
Reality TV World: Ah, I see.
Jennifer: Yeah, the car stalled. I've got very good reflexes, so I was getting it going and I was getting it in drive. I think the bus might have hit us had the car not started and the gas gone quickly. Shana: It would have. Jennifer: It would have... Shana: The bus came... I was in the backseat, so for me, it was a lot scarier than I think Jen could see from her perspective... Jennifer: Right. Shana: But the bus... I just thought that I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life if I lived through this. The bus practically touched the car, it came to a screeching halt. It might have been like an inch from my door. Really, really terrifying.
Reality TV World: Despite your troubles finding the fifth leg's Roadblock, you were able to finish it before "Grandfather/Grandson" team Donald Jerousek and Nicolas Fulks. How confident were you heading into the Detour challenge that you wouldn't be eliminated?
Shana: We were very stressed out about it... Very, very stressed out about it. Jennifer: We were not confident at all. I was crying in the car. Shana: Yeah, we were crying. We were upset. What it was is, we were two hours behind Gramps and Nick when we got to that [Roadblock] challenge. We already thought it was over. Then when we saw them standing there, we were like, "Oh my God! We have a chance here!" Then I did that challenge in like 10 or 15 minutes, that took them two-and-a-half hours to do. We ended up leaving about 30-seconds ahead of them, but got bad directions again... Jennifer: A lady pointed us around the corner and once we got around the corner, then another lady helped us and showed us exactly where to go. Shana: That was 15 minutes, and those 15 minutes cost us the game. I mean we lost by 15 minutes to Gramps and Nick...
Reality TV World: So you were 15 minutes behind Nick and Don in reaching the Pit Stop?
Shana and Jennifer: Yeah...
Reality TV World: So did you not really have any problems with the "Count Down" Detour challenge, you were just behind from the start? Or were there problems?
Shana: That was a rough one too, but we did it. It just took us a few tries...
Reality TV World: Following your elimination, Jennifer you said you're aware of the differences you and Shana have about what's right and wrong but will always be friends. Do you think participating in The Amazing Race strengthened your friendship?
Jennifer: Absolutely. I think going through this experience with Shana, we have a new-found respect for each other. I can't really speak for her, but I think she agrees. I never knew Shana has this inner-strength that she has. She inspired me throughout the race. I'm a really determined person, and we both have a lot of similar characteristics, and I think just watching her do what she did made me work that much harder and try to be that much better of a partner. Shana: I feel the exact same way. Jen could wrap her brain around things mentally and drink that camel's milk [during the third leg's Roadblock challenge], I could have probably never done. We both had our strengths, we both had our weaknesses, but we both definitely pulled each other through.
Reality TV World: What else did you take away from the race? Has getting out of your "comfortable" lives for a while made you a little less concerned about your appearance?
Jennifer: I think going through this race you have a newfound appreciation for things that are important and things that are not important. For me, I feel like... Everyone gets into their little niche, and they do the same thing everyday. I feel like I'm not going to do that anymore. I'm not going to fit myself into that anymore. I want to go do things. I want to break away from that and explore things. My priorities have changed a lot. Things that were important to me before the race I've found are not as important to me now. What about you Shana? Shana: I feel like -- in terms of comfortable lifestyles -- we've both have always traveled all over, so we both experienced a lot of other cultures and lifestyles and we know what's out there in the world and how different our city is that we live in. So it's not like it was a shock to us -- or our priorities necessarily changed that much -- because we had seen this before. But definitely what it gave me is... You know, you go through these extreme circumstances and situations and you do things you think you could never do, ever in a million years, and go through situations you would never think you could go through. And you realize what you're capable of doing when you set your mind to it. I mean hoisting all that furniture [during the second leg's Detour challenge] up that weighed more than me. Or just getting through the lack of sleep and lack of food, and seeing these other cultures in Africa... I realized anything you set your mind to, you can do. We both came back with that newfound attitude and its propelling us forward in our day-today lives, knowing we can do anything we put our mind to. That's what the race has given us, it's shown us what we're made of. Jennifer: I think what I meant when I said that things weren't as important to me, I mean like I am obsessed with fashion. I sew my own clothes sometimes, and I love handbags. Those handbags just aren't as important to me anymore... I'm not buying anything. I've become comfortable with what I have and I'm happy with what I have. I don't need anymore right now.
Reality TV World: Maybe it was just the editing, but you guys seemed to be more vocal than the other teams about some of the third-world living conditions. Why do you think that was the case?
Jennifer: I think it really had a lot to do with editing. Everyone was saying a lot of things about the places that we were, and they showed things that we said. I think Africa was culturally and spiritually inspirational to both of us, and I think that things that we said were taken out of context completely. We were really saying things about how we were feeling about ourselves... Shana: When I referred to Jen [on the train in Africa], I said, "Oh, did you get a new outfit? Is that a new perfume?" That was my light-hearted humor. I was saying, "Oh my God! We've been in these same clothes everyday for weeks." It was a joke. Like, "Oh, is that a new outfit? I haven't seen that before!" We were wearing the same thing everyday. "Oh is that a new perfume?" Because we've been in Africa sleeping on the ground and hadn't taken a shower in days, so we were stinky. The way it was edited, they showed a woman that wasn't even sitting near us -- and they show me saying that -- and it made it seem like I'm referring to the African people [on the train with us]. We were completely having a light-hearted moment with each other about each other. It was taken out of context. But Africa deeply, deeply, deeply affected both Jen and I. Teaching the kid in Africa [during the third leg's Detour challenge] was for both of us, the most memorable thing. We will never forget his face and we hugged him and we spent a lot of time with him... These people in Africa, who are in such extreme poverty in these extreme situations, they don't know it. They don't act like they know it. They have these smiles on their faces from ear-to-ear. They're just warm and smiley and it brings you to tears... I mean we were very affected by Africa.
Reality TV World: During your post-elimination Elimination Station interview on CBS.com, Jennifer you said you saw a "completely different side" of Hendekea's personality while on the race. What did you mean by that?
Jennifer: I think that the airport situation [in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso] was obviously in my eyes a little bit more... When Hendekea pushed the door [at the ticket office] to listen to Shana and I changing our seats, I think it was more dramatic in my eyes than what it really was. So I think I over-exaggerated it. Because to me, that was a big deal. I give people respect and I give them space, and I just felt like we should have been given that respect as well. But you can expect those things from people if they don't know what you're expecting. So when I asked [Hendekea] if she could please let us have our space because we were trying to do this -- it was a strategic move on our part that had been working throughout the entire race -- we wanted to do this and didn't what everybody to know what we were doing because then they would come and do the same... Shana: What happened was, we were looking for a better flight and we didn't want everyone to know that. [Hendekea] was being a little aggressive, and confrontational at that point... Jennifer: And they didn't show it! Shana: We were actually in there looking for an earlier flight, which we found and which we bought tickets for. But the window of time to get from our flight to the next flight -- the connecting flight -- was so small. But we bought the tickets, and we thought if we could have gotten on it, it would have brought us into [Vilnius] an hour before everybody else... Jennifer: We would have made it, but we didn't think that we could do it, so we didn't get the seats. We didn't have actual boarding passes... Shana: We didn't have our boarding passes. So when we landed -- they didn't show any of this -- but we ran from that first leg of the flight, we ran, ran, ran and got there just as the doors were closing and couldn't get on. Jennifer: But they would have let us on, but we didn't have boarding passes. Shana: We didn't have the boarding pass... But that was what we were trying to do, and we didn't want everyone else to know. Jennifer: Hendekea, she was really pushing the door and standing there for quite some time. This whole ordeal may have happened, like over 40 minutes... Shana: Yeah, it was a long process... Jennifer: It just seemed really small, and they didn't really touch a lot on it in the show, so it was a little confusing.
Reality TV World: Shana we read a report that you had to keep your participation in The Amazing Race a secret from your ex-boyfriend Ryan Seacrest. What was his reaction when he learned you were doing the race?
Shana: He didn't learn it...
Reality TV World: Until he saw it?
Shana: Close to that, yeah. His reaction was he was beyond impressed. He said, "You did that!? I can't believe you could actually do that! I could never do that! That's unbelievable." He was really, really, really, really impressed -- and maybe even for the first time ever -- a little speechless (laughing).
Reality TV World: What's your current relationship with Ryan?
Shana: We're very close. We're close friends. We've known each other for six years. You know we love each other and we're very supportive of each other. We talk probably everyday. He's great. He's been very supportive.
Reality TV World: What was the toughest part about competing on The Amazing Race?
Shana: (laughing) The hunger and the sleep-deprivation... Jennifer: Missing my family. That was hard. But it wasn't as hard as the hunger and sleep-deprivation, because you forget about your family (laughing). Shana: We were freezing and wet and hungry and tired the whole time (laughing).
Reality TV World: Which team would you like to see win the $1 million prize? Anybody you don't want to see win?
Jennifer: For me, I'd really like to see TK and Rachel make it... I just really like them and I think they're good people. Shana: I'm pushing for ["Father/Daughter" team Ronald and Christina Hsu]. That's who I would like to see win because they were just very kind people. I had bronchitis and I was sick and Ron was always giving me his special Chinese multivitamins and trying to be fatherly. Christina gave me a warm piece of clothing at one point because all my stuff was wet and I was so sick with bronchitis and had nothing dry to put on. Just very kind... They were very kind and I'm rooting for them.
Reality TV World: Anybody you don't want to see win?
Shana: I'd say it's anyone's race. Any one of us could have won it. I'm not going to say who I wouldn't want to see win because everybody puts so much into [the race]...
Reality TV World: If you had won, what were your plans for the $1 million prize?
Jennifer: I'm really into global warming and I hate using our natural resources, so I wanted to get solar panels and I kind of would like to have a farm. It sounds kind of funny, but I'm a vegetarian and I just want to live off of my land. I wanted to do things like that... Shana: I moved out of my apartment and put all of my stuff in storage in order to go on the show, so I need to get a place. I also work with animals charities, rescuing dogs that are in danger of being euthanized in shelters around L.A. I'm a big animal activist. I want to help financially and physically with the animal charities I work with.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you two?
Shana: I just launched a website called thehotdishtv.com, and it's kind of a website where you can go to find out what's hot in restaurants, nightlife, travel, horoscopes, the dog adoptions, the dog rescues. I went through chef school -- so I cook -- I put my recipes up there and do restaurant reviews. I've been working on my hosting and acting, and ultimately I would love to host a show that involves talking about food and traveling around the world... Jennifer: I'm writing a book about my life story. It has nothing to do with the race. I was basically abandoned by my mother when I was 13 for drugs, and I found her 15-years later living in a desert. So I helped her out of that and we have a good relationship now.