Exclusive: Jennifer "Jenn" Lee talks 'The Amazing Race' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/03/2017
Jennifer "Jenn" Lee and Kevin Ng were eliminated from The Amazing Race during the first Season 29 broadcast on CBS.
Jenn, a 25-year-old professional model from Los Angeles, CA, and Kevin, a 31-year-old athletic trainer from San Diego, CA, paired up on the first day of the Race when they were total strangers. They became the first team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the season's first Pit Stop at Cinta Costera Tres in Panama City in last place out of 11 competing couples.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World via email, Jenn talked about her short-lived The Amazing Race experience -- including mistakes made, lessons learned and activities she's sad to miss out on.
Below is the first half of what Jenn had to say. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion, as well as for our interview with her teammate Kevin.
Reality TV World: How long into your two-hour penalty did Liz Espey and Michael Rado arrive at the Pit Stop? What was your reaction when you saw them run up to Phil Keoghan?
Jenn Lee: They came in probably 45 minutes into it. It was the longest 45 minutes of my life!!!! When I saw them run up to Phil, I froze. I couldn't and wouldn't let myself believe that was actually happening!!! Of course I was devastated but I tried my best to keep it together.
Reality TV World: You two appeared to get lost trying to find the canopy tower. How long were you searching for the entrance to the tower? Was this the only time you got lost?
Jenn Lee: Haha. That was definitely not the first time we got lost. As you see in the show, every team got lost because for some odd reason, NO ONE in Panama knows where the Panama Canal is.
Also, there are two Canopy Towers in Panama and we went to the wrong one at first, as did a lot of other teams (several teams told us they went to the wrong one too when we ran into them during the Race). But we weren't searching for the entrance to the tower for that long, it seems like it on the episode because I was so frustrated, but I was just fed up in general from being lost all day.
Reality TV World: What about all the traffic? What did you feel were your most time-consuming mistakes or events?
Jenn Lee: I think looking for the canopy tower and the Panama Canal were equally the biggest time sinks during this leg. Traffic was terrible too because the main corridor that we had to drive on was under construction which many locals informed us of.
Because of the construction, locals gave us directions around the construction which made things a lot more confusing. Also-every time we asked for directions, each person gave us a totally different set! Kevin also doesn't speak a lick of Spanish besides "si" so I had to try to navigate us with my beginners Spanish.
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And like I said, my Spanish is better when I'm drunk... so maybe I should have had a drink or two first. Kidding of course. Also, there are ZERO street signs/names in Panama for some odd reason so even finding the name of the road we were supposed to be on was a challenge.
As for mistakes, I think when we all got in our cars in Panama after our flight, we probably should have teamed up with other teams to find the Canal and Canopy Tower, but our adrenaline was pumping and we were trying to just get on the road as fast as possible, so that thought didn't cross our minds initially.
Reality TV World: Why did you two ultimately choose the canoe racing Detour task instead of the bow and arrow? And looking back, do you regret that choice?
Jenn Lee: We chose the canoe racing Detour because I have canoed several times before at summer camp and rowing only requires strength whereas the bow and arrow requires a lot of dexterity.
Kevin wanted to do the bow and arrow Detour, but I told him absolutely not because the idea of balancing in a canoe and also trying to aim sounded incredibly difficult, which you see in the episode. Although Kevin and I may look like Pocahontas, I don't know if our aim and bow and arrow skills are as good as hers ;) I definitely do not regret that decision.
Reality TV World: You seemed drawn to Kevin immediately because of his surfer look and vibe. But why did you ultimately choose him to be your partner? What was your criteria for choosing a partner?
Jenn Lee: On the episode I "say" that "the ideal partner for me would be the surfer kid from Hawaii." That statement was definitely a sound bite statement because there were other Racers that I had in mind as my ideal partner (no offense to Kevin, but he knows this, we've talked about it).
While racing to the luggage store we ran into each other at the stoplight and joked, so when I had to choose, he was the one person I knew most and was most familiar with. I also chose him because most surfers are well traveled and have a lot of street smarts.
So I definitely stereotyped him and thought he had a lot to offer when it came to getting around in a foreign country. His long hair absolutely was not a part of my decision making, although it did become a running joke that we looked alike because of our locks.
Also, going down the line of Racers I had to choose from, there was Mike, who let me walk into the gate of the park first which was very sweet, but I wanted a partner who would be pushier and more competitive. Then there was Liz who had come in cowboy boots and jeans toThe Amazing Race, which I thought was strange so I passed.
Then there was [Francesca Piccoli] who had led everyone in the wrong direction, so I didn't want to choose a partner who would accidentally lead me in the wrong direction. Lastly there was [Jessica "Jesse" Shields], and I had seen that she had her own compass, so the fact she didn't use her own tools and followed someone else made me pass.
As for criteria for a partner, I came into the race looking for a male partner because the way we think are similar. I would say I'm more straightforward and less emotional when it comes to thinking, and so are a lot of men, so I usually work better with men.
Especially when I came to the race to win, I didn't want to be weighed down by emotions. Also, in the history of Amazing Race, most winning teams are male/female teams, so it is clearly the winning combination.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our interview with Jenn, as well as our interview with Kevin Ng.