Oak Lawn couple, relatives compete on ‘Family Feud’
BY MIKE NOLAN firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2012 7:26PM
Host Steve Harvey (third from right) on the set of “Family Feud” with family members Tiffany Williams (from left), Joseph Miller, Mary Kirklen, Natasha Williams and her husband, Jamel. | Supplied photo
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:02AM
An Oak Lawn woman’s research into her family’s roots not only resulted in new relationships, but an appearance on a nationally televised game show.
Natasha Williams and her husband, Jamel, will appear on “Family Feud” on Sept. 27. They were joined by three other family members, including a cousin Natasha discovered through her online research.
The segment was taped at the end of May — a nondisclosure agreement the family signed means they can’t talk about how they did before the show airs — and it was Williams’ second bid to be on the program in the past three years.
She and other family members had auditioned in Cleveland but didn’t get picked. Then, earlier this year, Williams was alerted by email that the show’s production company, Wanderlust Productions, would hold auditions in Schaumburg the first week in March.
“There were hundreds of families there,” Williams said. “You audition by playing the game.”
She calls herself a “huge fan” of the game show.
“‘Family Feud’ is one of my favorites because anyone can play, you just need to think like America,” Williams said.
When she and her husband first auditioned three years ago in Cleveland, she was on maternity leave with a 5-week-old son.
“I saw the casting call mentioned in an episode and simply said ‘Why not?’ ” she said.
Williams said she quickly recruited family members, including her uncle, Lewis Hamer. Suffering from a rare form of lymphoma cancer, he died several months after the audition, she said.
“The experience (audition) is one that we talked about all the time during his final months,” Williams said. “We, in part, felt committed to making this happen (getting on the show) as a tribute to him.”
Williams said that for the March audition, along with her husband, the family’s team included her brother, Joseph Miller; her cousin, Mary Kirklen; and Jamel’s sister, Tiffany Williams. She found Kirklen as the result of online research she was conducting on her father’s side of her family.
“My brother’s a trial lawyer so he’s really quick on his feet and he plays and coaches tennis,” Williams said. “Jamel is a very competitive guy, always ‘Game on.’ ”
The family was flown to Atlanta, where the show is taped, at the end of May. The program airs twice a day in the Chicago market — at 5 and 5:30 p.m. — five days a week on WPWR, and Williams said the family was told they will be on the 5:30 segment.
The program is hosted by best-selling author and former stand-up comedian Steve Harvey, who also hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” and who earlier this month launched a syndicated TV talk show, “Steve Harvey.” Once he finishes taping segments of his talk show in Chicago next May, he will return to Atlanta, where he faces the daunting task of taping 180 episodes of “Feud” in six weeks.
Williams said participants get to practice on the set “to get a feel for what the taping will be like,” and that Wanderlust Productions gives families tips for prepping for the taping.
“They want you to use your outdoor voice and to show energy and enthusiasm,” she said.
Some families who may have been impressive during the auditions just can’t hold up under the pressure when the actual taping starts, Williams said.
“They’ve had to send some families home because they freeze up,” she said. “I felt we did really good under the pressure of the camera. When it comes down to it, you are just playing a game.”