When a new game show airs this week, Shoreview residents may spot a familiar face among the lineup of contestants.
Brianna Hershey, a Shoreview native and 2010 Mounds View High School graduate, will appear in an episode of ABC's “The Hustler,” which premieres this week. Hosted by actor and comedian Craig Ferguson, the show puts a twist on the traditional trivia-based game show.
Each episode features five contestants who collaborate to answer a series of questions, worth $10,000 each, with the goal of building a collective prize pot that increases with each correct answer. The catch? One of the five contestants, the Hustler, already knows the answers, as the questions are based on their life.
“The questions are somehow related to their life, whether it's their jobs, their interests, where they live, any of that kind of stuff,” Hershey explained. But the Hustler has to keep their identity a secret from the other contestants to have a shot at the grand prize. “If the other contestants can figure out who the Hustler is, then they split the money. If not, then the Hustler leaves with all of it.”
That twist, Hershey said, makes for a fun and unique experience.
“You're not only answering questions and trying to make as much money as possible, you're also trying to read each other and figure out who might be lying,” she said. “It's an interesting take on a regular game show. It has almost like a murder mystery or Clue vibe, because (the set) is supposed to look like an old library or study.”
This is not Hershey's first foray into the world of television game shows. In 2017, she and her family were on an episode of “Family Feud.” They did not end up winning, but Hershey did sing a duet with host Steve Harvey during the show.
Hershey's “Family Feud” appearance helped open the door to “The Hustler,” she said.
“Normally, you fill out an application for game shows, but with this one, they called me … Every two years, you can be on a new game show, so when my two-year contract with ‘Family Feud’ was up, I started applying to a bunch of different game shows,” she explained.
She made it through a few rounds of auditions for various shows, but never heard back. Then she got a call from producers who had seen her audition tape for another show and asked if she would be interested in “The Hustler.”
“I was like, ‘Sure, but I don't really know what it is,’ and they said they were looking for people who are either really good at lying or can spot a liar. I said, “Well, I'm a teacher. I spot liars every day,” said Hershey, who teaches business and marketing at Robbinsdale Cooper High School. “I've learned a lot of the tells and how to figure out if people are fibbing.”
After a Skype interview and two rounds of auditions, Hershey was selected for the show and flew to Los Angeles for taping last winter.
“We filmed this episode December 2019, so it's been over a year, which is kind of crazy. It was originally going to air in the summer, and then COVID pushed it back,” Hershey said. “But filming was a really quick process. They essentially called me on a Monday at 5:00 in the afternoon, and said 'Hey, we're flying you out.' I flew out Tuesday morning, competed on Wednesday and flew back to Minnesota on Thursday. I was maybe in Los Angeles for 36 hours. It was not long at all.”
Hershey said that she has simple plans for viewing her episode of “The Hustler” — just a small watch party with her family. It airs on ABC this Thursday, Jan. 7, at 9 p.m.