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HOME > The Amazing Race > The Amazing Race: All-Stars

INTERVIEW: Uchenna and Joyce Agu discuss their 'All-Stars' race


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/09/2007 

Uchenna and Joyce Agu completed more than 20 legs over two seasons of The Amazing Race before finally being eliminated for the first time during last night's episode of CBS' The Amazing Race: All-Stars.  All it took was a 10 minute flight delay to send the married Houston, TX packing only a few years after they won The Amazing Race 7.

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On Monday, the 42-year-old land developer and his 46-year-old wife who works in sales talked to Reality TV World about being the only previous The Amazing Race winners to compete in All-Stars; who they thought their biggest competition was and who they found annoying; what the second time participating in the race did for their relationship; and how they were actually done in by a faulty printer.

Reality TV World:  Having never been eliminated from The Amazing Race before, what were your initial thoughts when host Phil Keoghan told you that you were eliminated from All-Stars?

Joyce:  Stunned... at first.  When he said it I was just kind of stunned because I kept waiting for him to say, "However..."  He just didn't say, "However." And then we he didn't say it you just think to yourself for a second, "Oh my God.  This is the end?"  I know for myself I was just speechless.
Uchenna:  The reality is the competition really came to a head right there.  We're used to seeing everybody else go out and... the realization that this wonderful journey is really over just hits hard.  The Amazing Race is the last great adventure.  In the old days, it was like a right of passage to do as much traveling as we did.  To really realize it was over was really a tough pill to swallow.

Reality TV World:  What made you decide to take the risk in Krakow and choose the flight with the tight connection?

Joyce:  We just think "no guts no glory."  We thought at some point and time, we just can't stay in the pack, especially getting closer to the end.  We kept thinking that since we were at the top it was an opportunity to take a chance...
Uchenna:  Extend the lead.  Knowing a Yield was coming -- or at least feeling that a Yield was coming -- and having been the only winners on [All-Stars], we figured teams would start to focus on doing whatever they can to push us aside.  We felt we had to make a move.

Reality TV World:  During our interview with them last week, Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek told us that even after buying your first set of tickets, you can continue to buy as many tickets as you want, so why did you stay with the risky connection after finding out that the three of the other four remaining teams were all on the same flight that had a safer connection? 

Joyce:  Once we committed and jumped on the first flight that we got on, we were now sent in another direction, on another path.  We had already purchased a ticket to go to our next connection and that's where the guy was printing our connection tickets and when his printer broke.  We spent a lot of time with them trying to fix the printer and get things back on track because the tickets had already printed and it was crumpled up in the machine so we were trying to right the wrong and we were getting close to our connector flight taking off.  If we wouldn't have taken that connecting flight, we were thinking it would have taken a lot more time to go back out of the airport, in through customs, buy new tickets, and then try a whole nother route.  We thought we'll take the risk because the gentleman helping us with the tickets said, "I'll fix it when you get to your next connection.  The tickets will be sitting there waiting for you.  All you have to do is pick them up and get on the plane."  It did not work out that way.  When we got to the connecting area, they could not figure out all the notes.  They said it was going to take them a lot longer to figure it out, and at that point we tried buying every airline ticket imaginable and they had no seats available.

Reality TV World:  Just to clarify, this is the connection in Frankfurt you're talking about right?

Joyce:  Yeah.  It was the holiday season and it just seemed like everybody was flying and there were a lot of standby people so any availability was sucked up quickly.

Reality TV World:  So that's what caused the delay in Frankfurt that cost you the connecting flight to Malaysia?

Uchenna:  Exactly.  I'll tell you, the move would have been genius if it worked.  We're talking about a whole other race.  That hour-and-a-half opportunity to be ahead, turned into 10 hour slap in the face.

Reality TV World:  So that's how long you were stuck in Frankfurt, 10 hours?

Joyce:  Well that's how far back we were from the other teams.

Reality TV World:  Do you remember what time it was when you finally arrived in Malaysia?

Joyce:  We got there just before sunset.  About 7PM or 6PM.  The other teams, they must have gotten there around 10:30, 11 in the morning.

Reality TV World:  The editin made it look like you guys were so far behind when you got to Malaysia that you skipped the Detour and Roadblock and your first clue just said to go right to the Pit Stop, is that right?

Joyce:  No.

Reality TV World:  Oh.  So you did do the Roadblock and the Detour?

Joyce:  Yeah.  We were more surprised at what they didn't show.  They didn't even show us trying to catch up.  We thought the fact that they allowed us to do all the tasks was because we had the opportunity.  So we did everything...

Reality TV World:  So it built-up some false hope for you.

Joyce:  Yeah.  They didn't show it.
Uchenna:  Even though we knew we were going out, we didn't expect it to be put together that way.  I mean you saw us the first five minutes of the show, and the last three minutes of the show. 

Reality TV World:  Which Detour did you choose?  Did you eat the cookies?

Joyce:  We ate the cookies.  We found it quick in comparison to what it looked like the other teams were doing.  And I did the [Roadblock].

Reality TV World:  How far behind Ozwald Mendez and Danilo Jimenez were you?

Uchenna:  They didn't tell us.
Joyce:  No.  I haven't figured that out.  I'd like to know though.

Reality TV World:  Did you think your race was in trouble when you were too late to pick-up tickets at the stop over in Frankfurt at the beginning of the seventh leg?

Uchenna:  We knew we were going into a trouble zone, but our way of thinking doesn't allow us to go down a path that we don't want it to go.  So we really tried to stay positive so that energy would be somehow answered.
Joyce:  On our last race -- even though some of the odds seemed insurmountable for us -- we still managed to make it through, and make it through first.  So we like to keep hope alive all the time.

Reality TV World:  Joyce do you think your experience with the piano was key in helping you overcome the deficit you two incurred in Frankfurt?

Joyce:  You know I played the piano when I went to Catholic school many, many years ago.  And the one thing that stood out in my mind was the hand placement, you always start with middle C.  Who would ever think that information would ever be useful again in life?  It's funny, that's where it started and it just turned out that it was quick.  I was happy about it.

Reality TV World:  Uchenna how confident were you that you counted the correct number of steps during the eighth leg's Fast Forward?

Uchenna:  Oh man, that's actually quite a funny story.  We counted it all out and actually had three different numbers.  The one that was closest to mine was Danny and Ozwald's.  So I actually... it was a gift.
Joyce:  [Uchenna] was probably 10 steps off, but the numbers were...
Uchenna:  Exactly the same.
Joyce:  ...but 10 off.  So [Uchenna] went with the one that had the same ending. 
Uchenna:  I tripped I think on one of the stairs.  "Was that 20 or was that 30?" 

Reality TV World:  How was it working with Ozzy and Danny?

Joyce:  It was great.  Those guys are so much fun.  They're funny and they're such gentlemen.  It was a great experience.  We vibe.  Our energies are the same.  Just positive.
Uchenna:  Positive energy.

Reality TV World:  Were you surprised they gave you the prize at the eighth leg's Pit Stop?

Uchenna:  We were thinking of doing "Rocks, Paper, Scissors" all the way up to the mat, and then they just go, "You have it."
Joyce:  They also said they had won a spectacular trip earlier and because they were from beach cities, they didn't want to go to a beach trip.  And they said they were going to take a gamble.  We were trying to debate how's the fairest way to do it, and they said "If it's a beach trip, we're not going to be sorry we gave it away." And it turned out it was.

Reality TV World:  Knowing you were "marked for elimination" following the race's fifth leg, were you confident at the beginning of the sixth leg that you'd be able to overcome the penalty?

Joyce:  For me, that was the scariest point because I thought we'd be okay.  Thirty minutes... we could make that up.  But when we had so much difficulty trying to get out of Africa, it just seemed like that 30 minute delay was definitely going to be the death of us.  But who knew that we would manage to get on a flight that the others couldn't get on for another day or so.  It was amazing that happened for us... but that was scary.
Uchenna:  And the dhows [leading to the sixth leg's Detour] were big.  We did make a 30 minute jump on the beauty queens I might add.  That was actually pretty gratifying.  I think that was the point where they started to look at us more as a factor.
Joyce:  It was shocking [we still finished the sixth leg third despite being "marked for elimination"].

Reality TV World:  Uchenna what was it like jumping with the Maasai following the sixth leg's Roadblock?

Uchenna:  I always watched National Geographic movies... and I love seeing those type of things.  You always wonder what it's like to be in the presence of such a majestic tribe.  My family's from Nigeria.  However when we did that, I wasn't in the race anymore.  I was taken away.  I was here with these people just jumping with them and you could see in their faces how much I was really enjoy being with them, and then they got more into it and the sounds they were making... their hums and different sounds they make.  It just resonates through your body.  That's what makes The Amazing Race so special.  You're not on a tour bus.  You're really in there with the people.

Reality TV World:  Since it seemed to lead to your being "marked for elimination," what made you decide to try "Porter" instead of "Pamper" at the fifth leg's Detour?

Joyce:  Our game on [The Amazing Race 7] was do all the physical tasks because those are the ones you can control.  Painting nails... I was just thinking that everything that sounds easy is never that easy.  Also we thought painting nails and doing it for money in a country where it didn't seem like people could spare much, it didn't seem to be an easy chore.  Definitely we chose the harder task not knowing.

Reality TV World:  How did you become so lost when trying to deliver the coal?

Uchenna:  That was one of those moments when we really were not... You know how you have to follow you instinct?  We were going in the right direction and just suddenly lost faith.  It's funny because we couldn't get locals to help us at that point and time.  You know how the kids kind of led [Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner]... they helped Danny and Ozzy.  We kind of finished the task while one or the other of them was getting help.  It just didn't work out.

Reality TV World:  Uchenna -- prior to Rob and Amber Mariano's elimination from All-Stars, how was it that you were able to meet Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan at the fourth leg's Pit Stop to greet them?

Uchenna:  We kind of forced that issue a little bit to see who was going to make it.  Because we knew it was down to one envelope... and Rob had been arguing with Mirna so it was really like, "Wow.  This is down to the wire."  And we could hear the others coming...  We just had to be there to see what happened.  That was the one rematch, and we really expected to be running against Rob and Amber again at the finish of [All-Stars].

Reality TV World:  That leads perfectly into my next question.  What was your initial reaction when your old rivals were eliminated?

Joyce:  For me it was a combination.  At first I was excited but then afterwards strangely enough I was kind of sad because I thought, "Oh no!  Those guys really make it interesting."  I was glad they were gone though because they were kicking our butts.
Uchenna:  There's a kinship even though you want to compete against the best competitors.  It was a kinship having The Amazing Race 7 be represented by two [teams].  I really didn't expect it to be a factor until we got down to the wire... I really wanted to have a footrace at the end.  Us against Rob and Amber.  If we can figure out a way to have another competition of some sort... I think it would be interesting.

Reality TV World:  I'm sure Rob and Amber would probably be up for that too if you asked them.

Joyce:  Rob still wants his opportunity to be first.

Reality TV World:  How did it feel when Rob took the note the stewardess wrote for you on the flight to Punta Arenas at the beginning of the fourth leg?

Uchenna:  That was interesting because he saw me going in and out of the stewardess' area, and as soon as I sat down, he went in to see what he could find out.  I mean he's a smart guy.  No other teams even thought about trying that.  And I mean the flight attendants are nice, two people are asking for the same information.  It was one of those things where of all the players, I expected Rob to do that.  So it was like, "Man!"  I wasn't surprised and I thought, "You got one in.  You get this one..." I love the competition with Rob.

Reality TV World:  We saw what the "Sign It" Detour challenge did to Rob and Amber.  Considering you also tried it and correctly completed it, what do you think was so difficult about the challenge?

Joyce:  I don't even think Rob and Amber finished!?  I know for me, just the shape of the world, once you open it up and it's flattened... that was one thing I didn't even consider that west was in a whole different position.  That was our problem from the beginning.
Uchenna:  Finally it just dawned on me, "We're not getting this right.  Where did Magellan come from?  He did not come from Guam, which was the one place that was farthest east on the map."  Between the two of us, we kind of knuckle-headed it through... I guess the best thing about it was at least we spelled all the words right.
Joyce:  We knew how to spell!

Reality TV World:  Joyce you seemed to have all sorts of problems in the boardroom at All-Stars first Roadblock.  What was it about the challenge that was so difficult and Uchenna was it aggravating for you to watch your wife struggle as your lead quickly evaporated?

Joyce:  What you didn't see was they gave you a piece of paper and said, "Go in the boardroom and you'll find all the answers you need.  Don't talk to people sitting around the table."  And I'm going around the room trying to figure out what it is we needed.  Of course everybody's looking at the pictures.  Everybody's looking at the initials and the monograms everywhere.  The only thing I wasn't looking at -- and maybe nobody looked at it and just took chances -- but I didn't look at the "Q" that one guy was scribbling on a piece of paper.  I thought he was just scribbling or doodling, which he was for the most part, but there was a "Q" he had on the paper that turned out to be totally related to the answer.  All the names of the quarries had some of the initials, and the one that was the answer had a "Q" in it.  And I thought, "Boy.  I didn't see any Q's."  But it finally dawned on me... of course much later on.
Uchenna:  My perspective on that was purely, "We got here first, let's leave halfway through.  That's cool."  But every team [passed us]... that just drove me nuts. I was aggravated.  I was beside myself because I couldn't see in the room.  I couldn't figure out what the heck is so difficult in there?
Joyce:  And I'm too literal so I was really taking it the wrong way.

Reality TV World:  Seeing as how you were the only previous The Amazing Race winners to compete in All-Stars, did you think you had an advantage?

Joyce:  Definitely no advantage going in.  I would say it was a disadvantage if anything because instantly people assume that you've already had your opportunity and you don't deserve another one.  But I think that everybody has the same opportunities and if you are allowed to have a miracle happen twice in your life, you know why not?  I don't think it helped us.  What do you think?
Uchenna:  No it didn't help us.  I think... it didn't help us at all.

Reality TV World:  Again, seeing as how you had already won The Amazing Race before, what prompted you to join All-Stars?

Uchenna:  The desire to travel.  If somebody's going to offer you the chance of a lifetime twice, not too many people are going to walk away from that opportunity.  The traveling, the experience, there's so many moments now that we'll carry with us for the rest of our lives that will actually almost bring us to tears because of this race.  We always tell people, "The win is being chosen to have a one in 11 chance at one-million bucks..."
Joyce:  And we said that before we won the $1 million [from The Amazing Race 7] too by the way.
Uchenna:  The $1 million is great.  It's the icing.  The win is having the opportunity.
Joyce:  And you know we have so many parallels to the race and our lives -- just learning to step out of your rut, do something different, take chances, live life boldly -- just all those things that really we've applied to our lives and we're finding that we're having a better life than we did when we were not taking chances.  Going back on the race again just adds to our life experience.
Uchenna:  To reiterate the point, you have to live boldly.

Reality TV World:  Was there anybody who you were surprised to see/not see?

Joyce:  Yeah... we were pretty sure that [The Amazing Race 5 runner-ups Colin Guinn and Christie Woods] were going to be there.
Uchenna:  We figured [The Amazing Race 4 Ringling Brothers circus clowns Jon Weiss and Al Rios] were going to be there.
Joyce:  It would have been nice to have [The Amazing Race 5 winner Chip and Kim McAllister], but I don't know if they would... There's so many good teams.  On this one, some of the teams that were there were some of my favorites.  Some of them I didn't remember, but a lot of them were my all-time favorite teams.

Reality TV World:  I think you might have already answered this question before, but who did you consider your biggest competition?  Was it Rob and Amber?

Joyce:  I think from the beginning we thought our biggest competition was The Guidos.

Reality TV World:  Interesting.  Is there a reason why?

Joyce:  The Guidos were the original Rob and Amber.  They were the original sneaky guys, and they're very manipulative, they're well-traveled, they've been around the world, they speak many languages... they know the in's and out's of airports around the world and they're fast and they're extremely competitive.
Uchenna:  They don't need any other teams.  They're probably one of the few teams that could actually go through the race without being in the pack.
Joyce:  We just thought they were the ones to fear most.

Reality TV World:  Are Charla and Mirna as annoying as they look on television and many of the other teams have been telling us?

Uchenna:  Annoying is the word.  There's so many -- especially now that we're able to see more of what they're saying -- and it's like, "Oh my goodness.  We're playing this straight.  We're playing this fair.  We're being honest."  The very next scene you see them taking cuts in line.  "Help me! Help me!"  We saw them do some things, pulling "the little person card."  Hey, it's a game.  You do what you can to survive.  It worked, they're still in and we're not...
Joyce:  They're just loud about it.
Uchenna:  It's annoying.  I think... I don't know.  It's annoying. I mean we all wish we could pull-out whatever card we needed to stay in...
Joyce:  I wish we would have pulled one out.

Reality TV World:  Do you think competing again in The Amazing Race strengthened your relationship?

Joyce:  No, you know going on The Amazing Race for us helps us be on the same team.  I know it sounds strange being that we are married, but when we have a common enemy, we know how to play for the same pot.  When we're at home and we have no other enemies except each other.  And it's strange, you fight about the little things, and the bickering and the things that get on your nerves...
Uchenna:  Everyday relationship stuff.  The race has given us a glimpse of what our relationship can be.  And now it's about is doing the work to getting there.

Reality TV World:  How are things going now?  Any news about starting a family?

Uchenna:  We're working on it.  It's interesting you ask that, a lot of people have been asking the same question about the family, about the relationship.  What we've done, we've been talked into documenting our last in vitro [fertilization] which is coming up soon and also documenting the work they're doing to sure-up our relationship.  It's very difficult doing this.
Joyce:  If in vitro doesn't work, we are planning on adopting but we're trying to keep all of our friends and fans in-touch or updated as far as what's going on with us.

Reality TV World:  Good luck with that.  Is the original $1 million spent already?

Joyce:  You know what... the original $1 million we paid taxes, we paid bills, we put some into those empty 401Ks that we lost with the companies we worked for.  So basically it's gone, but we're still trying to hold onto a little more security for our future and trying to build on that.
Uchenna:  And to round-up the question before about how we're keeping in-touch with friends and fans who are interested in the outcome of the two things were shooting, we have a website uchennaandjoyce.com.  It's a registration site we're you just put your name and your email address, and when those are ready we send out an email letting everyone know what it is and what it looks like.  The it goes forward.  Our goal is to have two million people register.

(Photo credit CBS)


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