02/12/12 — Eureka woman to be on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'

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Eureka woman to be on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on February 12, 2012 1:50 AM

Shirley Proctor is no stranger to the stage.

So when a friend told her she should to try out to be on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," she had no qualms.

Mrs. Proctor, 43, is a local actress and singer and was the 1985 Queen of the Wayne County Fair. She also is on the executive committee for the Miss Goldsboro Pageant.

"I was always very theatrical," she said. "It never struck me that was a path I could take."

She got involved with Center Stage Theater in Goldsboro in 2006 and moved to New York in 2007 to pursue a career in musical theater. It was in New York when Mrs. Proctor bumped back into her long-lost friend Kim Harris.

The two originally met in 2002 at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Va. when they were both in the show "Soup, Soap and Salvation."

"I was sitting on the six train one morning going to my temp job," Mrs. Proctor said. "I looked up and there was Kim."

It turned out they lived only 12 blocks away from each other and they quickly renewed their friendship, and it was Ms. Harris who convinced her to apply for the show.

She filled out the contestant information on the Millionaire website and later received an e-mail with the audition date.

"My mind is kind of a fount of useless information," she said.

Mrs. Proctor said she has always enjoyed trivia and even owns three different versions of Trivial Pursuit, but that she does not watch game shows. She said she typically only watches "Jeopardy" or "Wheel of Fortune" when she is at her parent's house. Before auditioning, she had not even seen the daytime version of the show.

"People asked me, "Are you studying? What are you doing to prepare?" she said. "There really is no way to prepare. The questions can be on anything."

When Mrs. Proctor arrived in New York for auditions in July, she said producers took people in groups of 40 and gave them 10 minutes to answer a 30-question multiple choice test. Then, of those who passed the test, five names were called.

"My name was the last one they called," she said.

She said many of the people in the room had auditioned for the show in the past, because everyone is allowed five tries.

She explained that the questions were mostly pop culture with some history, math and political science, with one of the toughest being "What is Samuel L. Jackson's middle name?"

"There's some things you may not know the answer, but you may know enough," she said.

She then had two brief interviews with producers of the show and received a postcard in the mail a few days later, which said her name was selected to be a part of the contestant pool.

Toward the end of September, Mrs. Proctor received a phone call saying she had been selected as a contestant. At that time, she happened to be in North Carolina for her 25th class reunion at Charles B. Aycock High School. She was not scheduled to fly back to New York until Monday, but paid the fee to change the flight so she would be back in time for filming of the show early that Monday morning.

Before arriving on Oct. 17, Mrs. Proctor had to e-mail three photos to producers of possible outfits she would like to wear. She showed up to the studio, with make-up and hair ready, with about 10 other people.

The contestants waited in a green room to be called onto stage and were told not to talk about trivia.

"I dozed off at one point," Mrs. Proctor said. "I'm just going to be honest. I took a nap at one point."

After she was all "mic'ed up," she was told filming was complete and she would have to come back on Thursday.

She returned to the studio with her support group made up of a total of seven people, including Ms. Harris and her husband, Bobby Gooding, in the hot seats.

"My game started at the end of one episode," she said.

She said she went to change clothes, along with Ms. Vieira, and they returned to the stage to finish the game.

"It is a very different experience when you're standing there with lights, cameras in your face, a studio audience, Meredith Vieira is standing beside you and real money is on the line," Mrs. Proctor said.

The check is for the entire amount, so the first order of business is to set aside money for taxes, she said.

"I walked away with more than I came in with," she said.

Then, Mrs. Proctor plans to give her 10 percent tithing to First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Wilson.

"We're remodeling the house, but I don't think we want to take that money right now," she said.

She plans to put the remainder of the money in an account where it can accrue interest.

"I don't have any plans to spend any money immediately," Mrs. Proctor said.

She grew up in Fremont and moved back from New York to Eureka in October 2010.

"You know, I'm leaving New York," she said. "Let me just go out on national television."

She said she hopes to perform on Broadway one day and plans to audition for the North Carolina Theater's rendition of "Legally Blonde." Plus, she always enjoys performing the role of either Donna or Rosie in "Mamma Mia!"

Mrs. Proctor will be featured on the show at 12:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on ABC.

"It was unlike any other experience I've ever had," she said.