Beaufort County residents tuning into The Amazing Race in October might see some familiar faces — Bluffton natives Haley and Kaylynn Williams will be featured as a duo on the show’s 32nd season.
While sisters Haley, 31, and Kaylynn, 30, now live in Charleston, they grew up in Bluffton.
Their parents, Gary and Kelly Williams, owned The Sea Shack on Hilton Head Island until selling it in 2004 — and Kaylynn Williams said that growing up “in the heart of the industry” on the island gave them a small-town edge in the competition.
“I hate to say it, but Haley and I definitely have that southern charm,” Kaylynn said. “We’re really determined to make Hilton Head proud and Bluffton proud.”
Kaylynn said that in April of 2018, a casting director for CBS messaged her on Instagram to ask if she and her sister wanted to try out for The Amazing Race.
The two submitted a video audition and flew to LA for a week to continue try outs for the show. They soon realized the crowds of duos auditioning had slowly dwindled to just a few.
Eventually, they were told they had made it onto the show, with “very little” time to prepare before filming began.
Haley Williams said the duo was “terrified” to meet the other teams for the season, which include pairs of retired NFL players, Olympic athletes and software engineers.
But she said that while she was scared of being “typecast as the typical blondes,” the sisters’ true strength lay in their kindness and bond.
“Kaylynn and I are best friends,” Haley said. “We’ve been together for 30 years. We just know each other like the back of our hands. So our communication is better than, I would have to say, anybody else in the entire race because we’re partners. We work so well together.”
Communication is key in the show, which takes pairs of contestants across the globe in a series of challenges to navigate foreign countries and solve puzzles to find their final destination at each stop.
Teams are eliminated based on their performance until a winning duo is named.
While the sisters couldn’t reveal spoilers such the locations they visited or how long they would last on the show, Haley said the experience was “eye-opening.”
“You get such a taste of the culture and you get to experience travel in a way that normal people don’t,” she said. “It’s the craziest experience of your life. You see that there’s actually a lot of compassion in the world.”
In the two years since filming the season, Kaylynn and Haley have been setting up a real estate business in Charleston — and, according to Kaylynn, fielding questions from friends and family about “how the heck they know DeAngelo Williams and Gary Barnidge,” two fellow contestants and former Carolina Panthers teammates.
Haley said the duo plans on watching the first episode with a small group of friends “to see how they translate on TV.”
After that, they’re planning a series of socially-distanced weekly watch parties at friends’ restaurants and venues across Charleston that have been hit hard by COVID-19.
And soon, they’ll launch another venture: a joint real estate business that they’re timing to open with their season of the show.
“No dreams are too big,” Kaylynn said. “A lot of people have messaged us saying they’d like to try out, and we’ve just told everybody to go for it and shoot your shot.”
“You never know what God’s planned,” Haley added. “We certainly didn’t expect it.”
The 32nd season of The Amazing Race premieres at 9 p.m. Oct. 14 on CBS.
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Rachel Jones covers education for the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has worked for the Daily Tar Heel and Charlotte Observer. She has won awards from the South Carolina Press Association, Associated College Press and North Carolina College Media Association for feature writing and education reporting.