Durham County

Watch Durham art dealer on ‘Jeopardy!’

Robin Devereux, with ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek.
Robin Devereux, with ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek. Submitted

DURHAM Robin Devereux, who runs an online art gallery, spent as much as two hours a day preparing for her appearance on “Jeopardy!” She concentrated on those subjects that were not necessarily her strengths. “I tried to study American history and geography. I memorized a list of presidents, which I’ve probably forgotten,” Devereux said.

“Whether that did any good, you’ll have to wait and see.”

Devereux will compete in the “Jeopardy!” episode that airs at 7 p.m. Thursday on WTVD. By agreement, contestants are not allowed to discuss how they fared during the competition.

Visual art was a natural area of strength because of her interest in the subject and her art gallery. “One of my hobbies is gardening,” so when plant knowledge is required “that’s a good category for me,” Devereux said. “Sports was definitely not my strong point,” so she tried to prepare for that possible category. “I like to read a lot -- that helps,” she said.

A longtime “Jeopardy!’ fan, Devereux had auditioned to be a contestant twice before. “Finally, I was excited to get the call to go out to California,” she said.

The show tapes Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Devereux’s taping fell on a Wednesday. Before the game proper begins, contestants are allowed on stage to get comfortable with the set and to practice using the buzzers. “To me, that was the most frustrating part,” Devereux said of the hand buzzers. There were times when “I knew the answer, but just could not ring in at the right time.”

Finally, host Alex Trebek comes on the stage and the taping begins.

Devereux runs Hanga Gallery, which sells and buys early-20th-century Japanese shin hanga prints. Shin hanga are woodblock prints that depict traditional Japanese scenes -- pastoral landscapes, birds, flowers, and beautiful women. She began collecting the prints in the 1990s and started a purely informational website about shin hanga. She learned more about the process of restoring the prints, and now sells them online to customers worldwide. “I find prints at different estate sales and from sales all around the world,” she said.

Trebek has been host of the most recent incarnation of “Jeopardy!” since it began in 1984. (The original show on NCB began in 1964.) Trebek “has kind of a dry sense of humor. ... I honestly think he’s trying to have a good time with people,” Devereux said. Her husband Ian accompanied her to Los Angeles for the taping. Like Trebek, her husband is Canadian “and we were joking [with Trebek] about that,” she said.

Robin Devereux will compete on “Jeopardy!” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, on WTVD.