Tarnita Lewis would put her family up against anyone's. On television.
So when the Rock Hill resident saw that Family Feud was coming to Gastonia to scout for competitors, she called to get an appointment. The casting director called her back, then e-mailed a date and time for the audition.
Lewis, 42, is the oldest of 13 siblings. Although they don't all have the same mother, they've stayed close since their father, Tommy Alfred Dodd I, died in 1990.
“Our families are blended,” Lewis, a registered nurse at Presbyterian Hospital, said. “What we didn't necessarily create, we made right. We all love each other.”
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Tarnita Lewis, her husband and four other family members decided to audition under the family name of Dodd.
At the Aug. 23 audition her family was “the most rowdy,” Lewis said.
“We all were crazy, out in the middle of the mall,” she said. About 30 families came to compete. Her brother June Bug (Tommy Alfred Dodd, Jr.), pushed her to get beyond her nerves and have a good time.
“That's the testimony in it,” Lewis said. “We all love each other, our children love each other. We never say ‘step' (brother or sister).”
Among the audition questions that interested Lewis most were “Name the eight states that have the deepest Southern accents” (neither North nor South Carolina were among the most popular answers); and “Name five things a teacher would see if she had eyes in the back of her head.”
“We got all those,” Lewis said, laughing. “We swept the family we played against.”
A week later, the family received a postcard saying they would be notified by the end of the year about a date for taping. They don't know any details, including whether they would have to pay for their own plane tickets to Los Angeles. But Lewis said they'll get there somehow, even if they have to hold fundraisers to do it.
Taking part in the audition were Tarnita and her husband, Lorenzo Lewis, sister-in-law Yolanda Dodd of Columbia, and sisters Sharon Wynn and Princina Burgess of Spartanburg.
They're all waiting for that next postcard, the one that tells them when to hop on a plane and show America whose family is tops.
The next “Event! Acts of Art: 5 Short Plays Inspired by 5 Paintings,” will be at the City Club of Rock Hill on Nov. 1. Roueche is pleased with the addition of the matinee show, which will offer a less expensive alternative to the evening dinner theater.
Artists whose paintings served as inspiration include Goode, Wanda Steppe, Carolina Rust, Jane Spratt and David Brown. Plays were written by local playwrights Terry Roueche, Laura Pfizenmayer, Dr. Allan Ryder-Cook, Greg Paxton and Dr. Susan Demchak.
“Event!” will be at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 1. Tickets are $50 for the evening show and dinner Matinee tickets will be offered at a reduced price not yet determined. Details: Call Roueche at 803-327-9125.