After a nine-year hiatus, “Deal or No Deal” has made its return to TV. And things are looking refreshingly different — especially from a woman’s point of view. For starters, briefcase models, like Chicago-raised Patricia Kara, are stealing more of the spotlight. With expanded storytelling about their personal lives, the public gets to know them as people, not just pretty faces. In a similar females-to-the-front vein, there’s now a woman banker on the show.
Kara is game-changing in more way than one. She’s a stereotype-breaking 46 years old and the only briefcase model that’s been on every episode of the show since Season One. One of her fellow models in Season Two was then-future Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle — further proof that the women behind the briefcases are ones to watch.
We caught up with Kara right as the reboot was airing. Keeping with its electric spirit, she surprised herself by sharing a story that — up until recently — had been private.
What was your first reaction when the reboot was confirmed?
We had been waiting for this. We heard rumors for so long and I had fans ask me when it’s coming back. It’s exciting for me personally and professionally. All the girls are new and not just models. [You’ll see] all walks of life. We have moms, business women, influencers. Not everybody is cookie cutter. “Deal” has changed my life. I’ve made lifelong friends before and I’ve already made lifelong friends now. It’s like a sisterhood with all the ladies.
The models will be sharing more personal stories this season. What can fans expect?
The one thing I’ve never talked about publicly… it’s more personal… is my mom. [During] my audition, it came out [that] my mom has dementia. I talk about it with my friends and family, but I’ve never publicly spoken about it. I go back to Chicago every 6 to 8 weeks to be with her.
How did you feel about sharing that side of your life?
Honestly, I didn’t expect to [share my mom’s illness]. One of the producers knows my story and I’ve known her since “Deal” the first time around. I was thrown off. I wasn’t planning to talk about it. But now, I’m definitely glad I did, because it is an easier conversation for me to have. I went from not being able to talk about to now I can’t stop talking about it. [Also from the personal side], considering my age and where I’m at in my life, married, people are always asking about when I would have kids. [But] not everybody is meant to live the same story. My mom has become like my child… and I’m okay with that.
How has the rise of Meghan Markle affected the show’s reboot?
The question is always, “Who’s going to meet their Prince Charming now?” The talk is definitely about her, which is so interesting, because she was on the show for a very short period of time. It’s brought a certain hype to our show. We get asked about it all the time. She was really sweet and just down-to-earth and more of an introvert. Howie doesn’t even remember her, but the rest of us do and we’ve all said the same thing: She’s just a really nice girl and really pretty and really driven with her acting career. She knew what she wanted, went after it, and got it. A lot of people get distracted, [but] she didn’t. She moved forward and did what she set out to do.
You’ve been the woman behind the Number 9 briefcase since Season 1. Why is that number significant?
We’re really more connected to our briefcases this time around. Nine has been a lucky number for me in the fact that it brought me back. The show went off the air 9 years ago and it was in 2009. So 9 years later, luck would have it that I’m brought back. It’s funny how I started noticing 9 everywhere. It’s really an exciting time.
“Deal or No Deal” airs Wednesday nights on CNBC.
photo: Brian Parillo