The Chase Is On -Mom To Mom With Sara Haines Of ABC’s The Chase
The chase is on for Sara Haines, wife, mom, and host of ABC’s returning game show “The Chase” and co-host of “The View.” Spending a morning getting to know Sara Haines is just like sitting down with any other parent during these
unprecedented times if of course, you mean any other parent with 3 kids under 5, a co-host on ABC’s “The View” and new host of ABC’s popular game show, “The Chase” that is. But the truth is, she is just like the rest of us that are trying to keep all the plates spinning and the house of cards from collapsing, laughing all the way. Sara is as real as they come and so easy to talk to and she immediately makes you feel as though it’s as if you’ve known her all of your life. Caring, hard-working, relatable, she’s that friend that we all wish we had. And in getting to know Sara Haines you quickly see that at the end of the day, the one thing that really sums up who she is, is not being an Emmy award-winning talk show host, or a new game show host, or producer or creator or any one of the multiple roles she has held over the years, but it is the being a wife and partner to husband Max, and mom to Alec, Sandra and Caleb is the one she relishes and wanted the most.
While most people currently know Sara Haines from her other day job as co-host of ABC’s “The View”, many don’t realize Haines has put in many years of hard work learning everything there is to know about her craft, and most importantly, has mastered the art of the pivot to bring her to where she is today. . Haines graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in government. She is a native of Newton, Iowa and whenever she was asked what she wanted to be growing up, she would say a marine biologist — at least that was my answer in high school. Eventually, that response evolved into practicing international law. . It seemed like a good choice for a government major. Although Haines loved her major along with the liberal arts course load, back then, and probably still today, what she really daydreamed about being a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
She was always an athlete growing up, which meant I couldn’t be a theater kid too and as she balanced a multi-sport lifestyle in high school, she also balanced it with playing in the marching band, dancing in show choir, and always teaming up with friends in comedy sketches when the talent shows rolled around each year which seems to have served her well as to where she currently is in her life.
Whether it was on a court or on stage, Haines said she loved performing, and after graduation, she made the decision to give herself a shot and headed to New York City to try her hand at comedic acting. She knew nothing about the business. She hadn’t studied it, and she didn’t have any experience with internships, but she started at the ground floor and worked hard, casting the net far and wide to find any job within the industry where she could take a crash course in the business she dreamed of making her career and also allowed her to take classes at night to learn the ropes.
She decided early on that she wanted her focus to be entertainment, and she went for every assignment that would allow her to get a little closer to how all of this TV magic happened. During her stint as a page, she had five assignments, which is actually a lot when you factor in that you aren’t eligible for the first three months to do anything beyond leading the tours and learning the ins and outs. It proved to be an invaluable experience with the biggest take away while being a page is that you have to be a sponge and soak in everything because new things, people, lessons are all around you if you are open to letting them in. Sara once said that the problem many people have is that they are so busy worrying about what they are working toward, or the “next” in their life, that they miss out on the “right now.”
After 10 months in the program, a job opened up for production coordinator of the Today show. As the coordinator, she would work under the production managers doing everything from being in charge of arranging guest transportation, ordering on-site catering, booking hair and makeup teams, VIP tickets to concerts, and so much more — basically, an event planner for TV.
Her plan then was that she’d be there for a year and then really jump off in the performing world. Well, that isn’t what happened and one year became seven years as a production coordinator She was wise enough to know that because she spent so much time in the office that took advantage of being able to soak in as much as I could, so she attended pitch meetings, learned how to produce, and would shadow producers and production managers on assignments. Her focus had also changed. With a few years under her belt of taking classes at Stella Adler, Upright Citizens Brigade, and TVI Actors Studio, and came to the realization that she was better at being herself than other characters, so once again, she pivoted and honed in on hosting auditions.
After about five years at the show, the website became a big priority at the company, and they were in need of content. Sara asked a friend who produced a lot of the concerts if he would mind if she could conduct one of the website interviews, but ultimately, what she really wanted was to be on camera rather than asking questions from off-camera, which is how producers typically conduct interviews. The first one went well, so she kept doing them. In time, with the help of a couple of colleagues, they branded their productions “Backstage Pass.” Our goal was to give viewers a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes. One thing led to another, the show progressed, Sara was getting noticed and that Fall, Kathie Lee and Hoda mentioned to Haines that she should come to play with them on the fourth hour of the Today show. And the rest, as they say, is history. The turning point came when Haines put together a segment launching Kathie Lee and Hoda’s “fan page” on Facebook. She reached out to Facebook directly and while on the air, fans started writing in and they would read some of the comments aloud. . Right after the segment, Kathie Lee and Hoda said that Sara had to come back to read comments again tomorrow. That was the beginning of her daily appearances on the fourth hour. In May of that year, Haines made the move from production coordinator and signed her first contract as an on-air contributing correspondent. For the next four years, she appeared daily on the fourth hour of the show with her favorite part being her weekly series, “Sara in the City,” where she stepped into a variety of odd jobs including the Yankees grounds crew, lobstering in Maine, learning to be a butcher, and so many more. From her original dream of acting, she found where she was meant to be in just being herself. in a job that allowed her to indulge her ever-present curiosity for life, exhaust her Midwestern work ethic, and season it all with a ton of comedy and laughter. Haines had found my happy place. From there, she was given the amazing opportunity to move to ABC as a correspondent for the news division which eventually led her to her first-round as co-host on “The View” and then as co-host ABC News’ “GMA 3: Strahan, Sara & Keke.” We were lucky enough to sit down with Sara and talk to her about all of this and so much more about what it’s been like with this latest adventure in her journey and what it’s like to peek behind the curtain of what goes into the making of ‘The Chase”.
As a middle school theater arts teacher, I of course went to my students who came up with a whole list of questions that they wanted to know, one of which was what the prep is like for being a game show host, especially one like the “The Chase” where everything is done at such a rapid pace and how it differs and how the preparation differs from being on this show as opposed to The View, which Sara co-hosts every morning.
“When I’m preparing for “The Chase” accuracy is important. I know that people have money at stake. I want to make sure I don’t mess up, that I represent the game, and all the research that’s gone into it. So I do a lot of trying to anticipate. I read through the questions quickly before and try to catch any words that could trigger me. I’m notorious for mispronouncing things and then I just blame it on my regional Iowa accent and hope nobody notices, but I did a lot of practicing, looking up pronunciations, reading. With “The View” I get to be unapologetically myself, so when I mispronounce I just let Twitter Verse just rip me apart and I just have to own it. With “The View” we’re highly, well as you know, let’s just say that we’re not scripted. So anything I say is on me. I can kind of take the conversation when I have the mic wherever I want. “The Chase” I owe a little debt of gratitude to accuracy to make sure because it matters to other people. On “The View” I’m the only one that looks like an idiot so I can just own that.”
The Chasers are all smart but each has their own personalities so if you could use one word to describe each chaser, what would they be?
“I would describe Ken as warm. James as well this word comes out bad, like snarky, he’s always got a line. So I don’t know if snarky is the way I want to capture it, it’s more like he’s like a sibling- he’s like a brat but like a sweet brat, and then I would say Brad is just chill. “
When you’re reading those questions, you have to go so fast, do you ever feel like how did you practice, and do you get anxiety like I’ve got to hurry up and get these out?
“Well, it’s funny because I spent my whole life speaking too fast, speaking too quickly. People telling me they couldn’t understand me and me trying to rush everything I said. So I spent my on-air career slowing down. “The Chase” was actually a perfect place to feel like my uncensored self. My husband and his parents are Russian. So when I speak to him, sometimes he says to me, stop speaking that way- you’re so slow. I’m so deliberate in how I speak and I do it because of being on-air, because of my in-laws. My brother in law didn’t understand me for a good six years, he speaks Portuguese because he’s from Brazil. So I have been just channeling this deliberate moment that when I got to The Chase, I was throwing it all out there. The funny thing is though that people say I don’t read fast enough. What they don’t realize is that there’s technology in the game and I can only read when it pops up. So I will argue that I’m faster than the technology that I’m allowed to read. My parents have more than once told me that I have finally found a place to call home.”
Was there any trivia that you got to ask the contestants that stuck out to you the most? Like something you learned that you were just like “Wow I’m going to hold onto that like random fact.”
“There was so much. I was more shocked not at things that I didn’t know that but more than the ones I was like wow I knew that. I would say one of them happened in the first episode that three-dollar bill question. There was one about a naked woman riding on a shark and my first thought was ‘Wow! There’s a three dollar bill?” I’d spend time between shooting making a mental note of almost disbelief. A lot of times I also jokingly used the Chasers as my own personal google. I’d sit there on set because there was a lot of time where we were stopped down for technical reasons and I’d ask James for example if something was even possible? I’d even pretend he was on my phone just make them answer me because they had to. I mean they’re sitting there, it looks rude not to. I often find myself running back and looking things up or asking the contestants who are physically closer to me on set than the Chasers are while still keeping the proper distance, knowing that every contestant was really brilliant in their own way. I’d throw out questions to them. I did a lot of deep research and I learned a lot. In fact, the first time I ever won Trivial Pursuit with my family happened after we shot “The Chase” and my brother looked at me and said “How did you know that?” and simply answered with “The Chase.” Needless to say, I actually got smarter with this show.”
Overall, what is it like actually filming the show and the production that goes into making something like “The Chase” How does that work in terms of like timing? About how long does it take to film versus how long the show is especially filming during these pandemic times?
“First of all, this is my first ever game show and the world of games shows is so different than the world I grew up in, which was morning TV and afternoon talk shows. That I know very well and I’m also used to live TV. So if it’s not live, it’s live to tape. Also, none of the shows we filmed took an equal amount of time but it felt like we were on set double the amount of time it took to air it. Also, because we were in pandemic times, there’s no audience. There was a huge amount of precautions involved in filming this production to make sure all of us we safe and there were double masks everywhere. No one was allowed to walk near you or to talk to you without double masking. We can’t intermingle and we can’t pass each other. They had to speak from a distance and I honestly don’t know how they did it. On top of all of this,I was also shooting “The View” by remote in the morning. My day started around four AM because it’s West Coast, and we’d start with “The Chase” right after I’d finish the View. I’d have about thirty minutes to eat something and then we were up for the first episode and that usually took a couple of hours. Everything would stop to give everyone a break, to eat and change and redo make-up and then you go back to filming. It always took at least a few hours because there’s a lot of technology with game shows. If the system goes down, everything has to stop so you’re stopped down wherever you’re standing. I don’t know how it compares to a normal time. Everyone promised me there’s so much more energy because there’s an audience but it was a unique time to be shooting anything, because even on “The View” we don’t have that many people here. For them to be able to provide all those jobs and have the crew there, they had to take such extremes and precautions, which I’m grateful for. But it was such a weird thing to shoot.”
What do you do to help calm the contestants down and make them feel comfortable?
“I quickly realized this is an incestuous crowd of game show people. I quickly discovered that as I was meeting them and they were meeting each other that they already knew each other and they’d share that for example, one was on Jeopardy four years and you’d hear “Me too!” so totally different vibe. But I did what I often do whenever I’m around people and that is we just talked. There’s a lot of downtime so I ended up getting to know the contestants, where they’re from, and just about their lives. Even though there is some pressure on me not wanting to make mistakes, they have more pressure on them. I found that the comfort of just having the conversation, finding out where they were from, if they had kids, if they were feeling nervous, what they did, even though I had read bios on them and I’m a naturally curious person. With every single person I meet, I just wanted to find out a few more things and I felt comfortable knowing what they were like and what they were about. I would deep dive to the point they would cut me off and they’d be like “Sara like we have to keep shooting, you know, the show you know, that reason we’re here right now” but I truly wanted to get to know them as a person. The people were so fascinating to me that I think it ended up disarming them. But honestly, I can’t take credit for that because that’s what I do when I’m around people a lot of talking. Blooper wise, there were more just funny exchanges with The Chaser and the contestants. I remember these puns by about cows, so it was all these bovine jokes that The Chasers and I made along with the contestants. “Let’s try to beef these questions up” and things like that and when we finally got to the final round and the contestant that it all started with isn’t in the round and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a cow question. The questions are all pre-determined, so that was accidental and I started to read and I find myself like my throat hiccupping but you really can’t stop down on those speed rounds, because you could mess them up so there wasn’t room for error. I remember moments like that kind of are those inside stories that I’ll forever remember as some of the high points.”
As far as the set design goes, the colors, the design itself, how much of it is just for TV or do you experience the interactions and the music the colors changing?
“When I walked onto that set, again only ever having watched these types of shows on TV and one of the first things that Vin, the executive producer said was “Wait until you see the lights!” And I thought “Cool, lights, that’ll be fun.” And then I stepped on that set and literally that place lit up. The one thing missing was the sound you hear because it sounds so much better when you watch it air because they don’t always add it in at the time or while we are taping. Sometimes Vin would get in my ear and he would sing the sound effects for me so I’d pause for music and at first, I didn’t think much about it but then when it aired, it was an entirely different feeling almost like the whole thing is going to launch. The color is magnificent up close. It’s amazing how much of our senses become involved because the sound and the music and how they come together amps up the entire experience to a whole new level. I’m just like all of you and we’re all learning at the same time about the production of a game show. “
What about this game show that made you want to be involved and what is the most fun about it?
“I’ve always dreamt of being part of a game show because games in my family are every time we’re together, holidays, vacations there are always games.I have a nostalgic connection to any game you’re playing. I just associate it with family and celebration. Having games is a unifying force of good memories for me. I’ve always ended up working in News Divisions. My aspirations were always comedic and yet somehow, I ended up in News. It was a chance for me to get a walk away from what I always do at work during the day, which is lean in and check-in. Games to me are checking out. I love that they bring people together. It’s the laughter; it’s cheering on a regular person doing amazing things. To be any part of a game show was a dream. The seed was first planted when I’d seen Michael, Michael Strahan and I are very close. And I first visited him at Pyramid. My first thought was that I couldn’t believe that he got paid to sit and play games all day long. Fast forward and now I sit here feeling very blessed.”
“As for what is the most fun about it, I would say The Chasers. I knew of these guys like everyone else from Jebpordy and like the rest of the world, these three guys have been such a part of like news updates, their winning streaks and everything else. Meeting them, however, they weren’t what I expected in the best way. We had a dinner right before we started and it was the three of them who know each other well and myself. I was so surprised at how such smart people could be so relatable and not make you feel any different from them, like the number one thing you think when you meet one of these guys is you’re brilliant and then you worry about if you’re going to mess up something when you speak. They were literally felt like brothers. They started jousting and joking and I thought, Ken is like this warm paternal figure, Brad is like this cool guy I could see myself hanging out with, and James was like that sibling that we all have. By the end of the dinner, we were all laughing and I thought these guys are awesome, they’re not just smart. I would say surprisingly I didn’t think I’d have such a connection to these three guys and now being with them might be my favorite part of filming the show.”
Are there any talks of there being a kid’s version of “The Chase”?
“I think first and foremost “The Chase” or at least the format of the show, has done amazing internationally because it’s a tried and true format for a game show. The catch is that we need to make it last before there can usually be knockoffs. I think people would be blown away because almost any show I’ve ever watched when you see the kids version it’s better. I think there would definitely be a world for that.”
How has all of this affected your family dynamics, in a positive way, and how do you balance motherhood and being an amazing working mom?
“In regard to going to shoot “The Chase”, that was tough as that was the longest I’ve been away from my kids. I’m sure three kids for anyone is hard but the condensed age is also like just really hard stages. My husband and I typically divide and conquer and when one of us leaves, we’re like don’t leave me here alone because they’re just so much right now. Also, we just moved from an apartment to a house, which with more space comes more work and I’ve never been so physically exhausted than the carrying up and down and around. As every parent knows, it’s a lot. My husband was great and said, “We’ll be fine, and he tried to explain to the kids, mainly Alex because he’s the one that understood that sometimes mommas and papas have to leave for work and that we’re going to miss each other but we’re going to talk every day, and we have this Invisible String, just like in the book. Whenever we leave each other we say I’m going to tug on my heart string when I miss you and all those conversations.It was really hard being away because I know other than counting down the sleeps that I was away, they didn’t comprehend fully what I was doing. But then when I think back, normally I don’t show them the things I do because we don’t do a lot of TV but sometimes they’ll catch it in passing.I wanted to sit them down for “The Chase” because this was the first time I left home to do a project. Alex really seemed to understand it. Alex would say, “Mama I saw The Chasers!” I don’t know if he knows what that means, but I needed him to know that there was a reason to be away. I feel like it’s better to talk ahead of time and let them catch up, that’s the first thing.Second, I don’t know if I fully do balance working.A lot of people ask anyone that works, how do you balance the two. I honestly admit that sometimes I wish I could stay at home with them; I don’t think I was cut out to do that. But then I remember that what I get from work is a kind of filling of my own personal tank to make me better when I come home, for my husband. Even before I had kids I needed this and then for my kids. I think depending on the day, you’re probably giving one more, you know, to the other. I’ve come to realize that the big thing is I never lose sight of that one wins out in the game of life, which is my kids and my family is the most sacred part of my life.And if anything is going to drop, I will always choose that.My husband my children and that is it. This other stuff is such a beautiful gift. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and I love being able to share these opportunities with them but ultimately they know and I know and I will never let them forget for a day that they are first no matter what.”
Working double-duty has certainly been keeping Sara Haines busy, but she’s thrilled to have gotten the opportunity, As for what awaits her in the future, time will tell but there’s no doubt that Sara Haines was always meant to soar. The best piece of advice Sara offers to anyone thinking that this might be something in their future is this: If someone asks you to make a cup of coffee, make the best cup of coffee they’ve ever had, because why would they trust you with anything else if you can’t do that? No task is too small. For Sara Haines, wife and mother, who also just happens to be a host of ABC’s “The Chase” as well as co-host of ABC’s “The View” the chase is definitely on, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Don’t miss Sara Haines each morning on “The View” and then every Thursday night on ABC’s “The Chase” a heart-racing quiz show where three competitors must pit their wits and face off against the Chaser, a ruthless quiz genius determined to stop them from winning cash prizes. Each hour-long episode is a fast-paced battle of brainpower, where contestants are challenged to think faster than they ever thought possible to answer up to 166 questions across all topics. “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time”’s James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter take turns serving as the Chaser, reuniting the three titans of trivia who last faced off in January 2020. But now they’re no longer pursuing each other – they’re chasing YOU!
“The Chase” airs Wednesday (10:00 p.m. EST) on ABC.
Episodes can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu