By LYNN ELBER, AP TV Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Danger! Champion Amy Schneider joins her list of bragging rights and admirers.
Already the highest paid contestant in quiz history and the woman with the longest winning streak, on Friday she became one of only four “Jeopardy!” players to reach seven figures in regular season earnings.
She grossed $ 1.02 million in 28 wins, consolidating her 4th place on the list which includes Ken Jennings with $ 2.5 million; James Holzhauer, $ 2.46 million and Matt Amodio, $ 1.52 million.
Schneider, who is also fourth in consecutive wins, will compete again on Monday.
Posed and affable on television and in an interview with the Associated Press, she doesn’t seem the jubilant type. But she’s tickled by the fact that she fulfilled a prediction made by her 8th grade classmates in Dayton, Ohio: she was voted the most likely to be a “Jeopardy!” Competitor, depending on its geography and spelling prowess.
More importantly, she’s the first transgender person to qualify for the show’s Tournament of Champions. In a series of tweets last November, Schneider said she was proud to be a trans woman and wanted people to know about that aspect of her, adding, “But I am a lot of other things too!”
The “Jeopardy! Schneider’s accomplishments have made her both an inspiration and a target for transphobic slurs online – which she repelled with the same aplomb she shows on television. His address caught the attention of Harvey Fierstein last week.
“I couldn’t be prouder if she was my own daughter,” the writer and Broadway star tweeted.
Fun fact: Schneider is proud of a podcast she produced on “Downton Abbey” and invites those interested to listen to “hundreds of hours of content” on the PBS series.
Schneider, an engineering executive living in Oakland, Calif., Recently spoke with AP about her newfound fame, keeping her day job – but dreaming of a career in entertainment – and being a voice for the community. trans. Notes have been edited for clarity and length.
AP: Do you have any pinch moments over how you got on “Jeopardy! “?
SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. Just seeing myself on TV is still almost a shock, even though I was there when it all happened. I thought I could win a few games but I didn’t think I would do it right. The other day my girlfriend mentioned famous people who went to her high school, and I was thinking, “I know there was someone who went to mine.” I searched Wikipedia and there I was, listed under Notable Alumni. It was a very strange moment to see that.
AP: You mentioned actor Laverne Cox and actress Natasha Muse as trans women that you find inspiring. Have you heard from viewers who see you as a role model?
SCHNEIDER: I’ve certainly heard from other trans people who were kind of happy to see me there. But one of the things I enjoyed the most was hearing from parents, and sometimes grandparents, of trans people, an older generation. There is a lot of fear for those close to them who are trans and fear that they will be limited in life. Being able to go out there and show that I can be successful in a very common way has, I think, made a lot of them feel better about the people in their lives.
AP: Since Cox and Muse are both performers, is that something that touches you? You have done theater and are you interested in comedy?
SCHNEIDER: I’ve done open mics in town, just for fun and not seriously, but I’ve been an artist my whole life. As I struggled with the need to come out, one of the fears was certainly, “Will I still be comfortable in public and will I still be able to perform after my transition?” And seeing them certainly helped with that.
AP: Is a career in entertainment your goal?
SCHNEIDER: I dream of it. I’m not sure exactly in which direction I would like to take this, and I’m not sure what opportunities will be available when coming out of this (the show). But I worked on my writing as an area where I could find opportunities. Beyond that, I’m just riding it and seeing what may or may not happen as I go.
AP: Last month, after receiving a message on Twitter regarding your “Jeopardy!” success of Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, you asked your supporters in the state to consider that a Republican vote in this year’s election would make your life more difficult. How did you decide to make a statement that puts you on a different level of exposure?
SCHNEIDER: I really thought about it, and I don’t want my social media to be a place where people argue all the time about politics. But at the same time, I cannot ignore the fact that there are people who threaten my brothers and sisters in the trans community. Here I have a chance to say something about it, and I cannot be completely silent. I don’t necessarily want to be super activist about it and constantly hitting that drum. But I can’t stay silent either, when I know that there are so many people in danger of real harm and harm because of political policies.
AP: You got a polite response from someone who took you to task for the tweet.
SCHNEIDER: I grew up in a Republican household and a Catholic environment, and a lot of people I love are conservative in various ways. I know them, and I know they don’t do harm on purpose and have reasons for the positions they hold. So I want to involve people from (across) the spectrum where possible. But it has to be in a condition where my right to exist is granted, otherwise we can’t speak.
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