Jeopardy! champ Amy Schneider tells all in her new memoir In the Form of a Question, available as of Tuesday, October 3. And while her book title and its chapters may be Jeopardy themed, don’t expect the entire memoir to be filled with details about the game show. This book, Schneider tells TV Insider in the video interview above, is Schneider’s way of letting viewers get to know her — the real her.
As her book cover notes and Jeopardy fans know well, Schneider is the most successful woman to ever compete on the beloved game show and is the second all-time winner behind host Ken Jennings. She first appeared on the series on November 17, 2021 and continued to win for 40 games straight. After becoming the first openly trans Jeopardy contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, she went on to win said tournament in November 2022, increasing her total earnings to over $1.6 million. Schneider then competed in Jeopardy! Masters in 2023, finishing the quarter-final round in fifth place.
Fans of the show already know her storied history on the Alex Trebek stage. In the Form of a Question will now introduce fans to who she is off-screen. She wanted to use this platform to paint a picture of her life, including her lived experience as a trans woman.
“I think that one of the things [that inspired her memoir] was that as I realized that I had been so many people’s first trans person, as it were, I grew uncomfortable with the fact that the part of myself that I had shown on Jeopardy was sort of the most accessible, relatable, family-friendly part of myself,” Schneider explains above, “which was fine. That’s what the Jeopardy environment is for.”
“But I also started to worry. Is that something that the people who I’m the only trans person they know, when they come across other trans people who have had messiness in their life who are not as media savvy as I am or whatever else, is that then going to be something that they use to be like, ‘Well, I’m not transphobic. I like that nice Amy on Jeopardy. Why can’t they just be like that nice Amy on Jeopardy?’” she continues. “And so I wanted to show that I’m not just that. I have also experimented with drugs, I’ve had a somewhat varied sexual history, and I’m just more complicated and messy than that. And yet at the same time, none of that’s incompatible with being a Jeopardy champion.”
Each chapter unpacks a different aspect of Schneider’s life outside of and before Jeopardy. By opening up about her life as a trans woman in America, plus the other facets of her life outside of her gender identity, Schneider hopes readers will walk away with a more nuanced understanding of who they saw on TV. She also hopes this will affect how viewers see other Jeopardy contestants.
“I would see people making comments about” other players on the show, and “some would end up coming off as villains,” Schneider says. “People would be like, ‘Oh, I don’t like that person’ and all of this. And I would be like, that is not at all the person that I spent that day with. That is not who I remember. And it made me realize how distorting seeing someone on TV is. You feel like you get to know them but you don’t really. And so part of the inspiration for this book was nobody actually knows me yet, and I would like them to.”
Schneider admits that she doesn’t watch Jeopardy as much as she used to. After talking only about Jeopardy in public for months, she’s now a little burnt out from it. She still tunes in from time to time, though the series returning while its writers were on strike this summer didn’t make her want to tune in more. In July, Schneider said she would boycott the series as it returned despite the strike. When the show returned for Season 40, it worked around the writers’ absence by recycling old categories and clues. We spoke with Schneider the day after the WGA writers’ strike ended (September 27). She shares her take on the reused clues.
“I haven’t really watched any of the the recycled episodes, partly because I just don’t watch it as much anymore,” she says. “It’s not something that I was thrilled about. I also don’t know the pressures that they’re under, and these are people’s jobs on the line. I’m not here to sit in judgment on them for doing it, but there was this feeling of like, is that even really Jeopardy on some level?”
When it comes to the Jennings vs. Mayim Bialik debate, we previously reported that Schneider feels she can only speak to Jennings’ skills as a host, as he’s the only host she’s worked with. Given her record-setting history on the series, we had to ask: Would Schneider ever be interested in joining Jennings and Bialik as a Jeopardy host?
“Like I say, I think Ken should be the host because I think he’s great, but you know, I’d take the call,” she says. “It is a hard job, but I love Jeopardy and I love all the people that work on it. I had a great experience with all of them. They’d be great people to work with. Yeah, I would certainly listen.”
Learn more Jeopardy! secrets in the full video interview above.
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