'The Amazing Race's "Mother and Son" Denise Williams and James Earl Corley talk (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/04/2015
The Amazing Race's "Mother and Son" Denise Williams and James Earl Corley were eliminated during last week's broadcast of the CBS reality competition's 27th season.
Denise and James became the seventh team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's tenth Pit Stop on the grounds of a big party in India in last place.
Denise and James grew close and reconnected on the Race after having a bit of an estranged relationship due to Denise's strict religion and her son revealing he's gay. James was proud of his mom, saying she's a lot tougher than she looks, and Denise admitted she loves her son unconditionally.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Denise and James talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: I've asked most of the teams this question. Why do you think Justin Scheman and Diana Bishop are doing so incredibly well? It's just hard to believe being so knowledgeable of the show is all there is to it.
Denise Williams: People see them argue and fuss, you know, sometimes during the Race, but they are so connected. I think they are so connected with each other and know each other so well. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses, so they just pull each other along.
James Earl Corley: Another thing I think is really helpful is they've gotten to stay in front of the pack, and that's great. When you're in the front, you get to think a little bit. Like you saw Justin in this episode, when they got to the Detour, he said, "Look for one with good tires."
When you're running in the back of the pack and you're just trying to stay alive, you're just grabbing and pushing things as hard as you can. So I think having just that little bit of buffer, where you know you're not going to get eliminated and having a second to think things through, helps out a lot.
Reality TV World: At the time you got eliminated, did you still think the Race was anybody's game? Or were you sort of thinking, "Just hand Justin and Diana the money...?"
Denise Williams: No, I have said all along, "Anybody could be beat." I kept on saying to James Earl, "The Green Team can be beat." People make mistakes.
James Earl Corley: The Race can change on a dime for anybody. It just takes one bad taxi driver or just getting frustrated with a Roadblock to get to the back of the pack.
I mean, mom and I were running pretty consistently in the front until we hit Paris and then we just ended up at the wrong restaurant and it just put us in the back of the pack by a lot. I mean, so, one bad thing can turn on you, and it can happen to anybody.
Reality TV World: Do you think a lot of people underestimated Tiffany Chantell and Krista Debono probably just based on stereotypes? I remember the very first team that got eliminated said something along the lines of, "I at least thought we'd be smarter than the 'Cheerleaders.'"
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James Earl Corley: Tiffany and Krista, you know, at face value, you'd think they're going to be airhead cheerleaders, but they were so much more than that. They are very, very savvy girls. They know how to work the room and know how to work a situation, and I think that's helped them come all this way. They know how to tackle a problem instead of just tumbling under it.
Reality TV World: If you two were to race again, how might you better prepare? Would you do anything differently? Plan anything differently?
Denise Williams: I would. My backpack would not be 22 pounds; It would be 10 pounds. (Laughs) It would!
James Earl Corley: And I think another thing that helped me and mom along the way was towards the beginning of the Race, her and I would bicker a lot. We spent a lot of energy bickering back and forth, and the further we got along, the less we did of that.
So I think if we ever got to race again, we would just start off at that point where we're on the same page, we know what we need to do, and we stop arguing with each other. Because all it does is waste your energy. It doesn't help out at all, and I think we learned that after that leg in San Antonio de Areco and it really helped out.
Once we got that penalty and we had 30 minutes to sit there and talk, [we realized] we were fighting against each other when we're trying to race and be a team. [We thought], "It's not worth it. Those 30 minutes were like, "Come to Jesus!" It helped out a lot. I never want to live that moment again because it was awful! But I do think it helped us out in the longrun.
Denise Williams: (Laughs) It was our "come to Jesus!"
Reality TV World: You both grew really close on the Race. You said you reconnected. How bad was the relationship right when you had signed up to do this show and did things remain so wonderful once you got home after the Race?
James Earl Corley: When we were on the show, we were probably 80% or 90% of what we used to be. We were close. We would talk, but it wasn't how it was in the past. She was, like, one of my best friends I could talk to about anything.
And as we ran the Race, we finally just started slowly picking up -- like 85%, 90% -- and by the time we finished the Race, I really do think we reconnected. All our issues from the past were gone. And we're strong. Her and I talk every day. It's just like it used to be in the past before I came out.
Reality TV World: What would you say was your favorite memory?
Denise Williams: My favorite memory that we had...
Reality TV World: The rapping task? (Laughs) I'm just kidding.
James Earl Corley: (Laughs)
Denise Williams: Very funny! Man, I got so stressed out at that point. But I think the challenge we did together on the piano was the bonding moment for me. We just clicked and we worked together. That was the moment where I said, "Man, this is my son!" I was proud of him.
James Earl Corley: I would have to agree. On that Poland leg, for some reason, mom and I were just on the same page and working well together. We tackled everything and we ended up doing very well on that leg. I know we place third, but really, the Green Team was so far in front of us, we're not even going to count them.
We came in behind [Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta] in second basically, so we were just ON that leg. And I feel like if we could race like that the entire time, we would finish even better than we did.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Denise Williams: It was!
James Earl Corley: It was our first time. We just sent a video in online, just like the normal submission with our names and a video, and we kept getting callbacks. And then we were on the show! It was the first time we had ever applied.
We've been wanting to do it for years, but we just decided one day, "We're going to do this," and low and behold, we're on the show. It was such a surreal experience. We didn't believe it at first, like, "This can't be real. This is someone playing us." But we made it!
Reality TV World: It would be nice to see you two on an upcoming all-star edition.