The Genealogy Roadshow Austin experience

Denise Garza is one of six people featured in the Austin episode of Genealogy Roadshow airing October 14th on PBS stations across the nation. Denise provided this story about her experience on the show.  PHOTO: Denise Garza getting final instructions from the Genealogy Roadshow production team before she tapes her segment at the Driskill Hotel on June 23.


My trip on the Genealogy Roadshow has been fast, furious and fantastic! Little did I know when I answered the call for entry, I would be pulled in a wonderful whirlwind of excitement.

KLRU ran an ad looking for Austin participants just after Antiques Roadshow in late April. My father, Joe, has been researching our family history for years. He formed many assumptions about our family’s long lineage but lacked conclusive evidence. I saw the ad and thought, “What the heck!” and submitted my questions.

The questions were:
1. Do I qualify as a Daughter of the Republic of Texas?
2. Are we related to Jews who came to the Americas to escape the Spanish Inquisition?

Just a few days after the online submission, I received a phone call from the show’s casting department. I spoke with the casting agent and he recommended that we do a Skype call the next day. I made my case on Skype which was recorded and presented to the GRS producers. They liked me and I was in!

Over the next few days, I emailed all the family research I had done on my own. The Genealogy Roadshow production team sent me a DNA test kit that same weekend. It took a half an hour to fill the DNA test tube with saliva. It was kind of gross. I sent the DNA kit back immediately.

About three weeks went by without a word, and then I received a call from Jeff with the show’s production team. He wanted to do a special taping session with just me! We settled on filming in my home and at Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park in Austin. Exhilarating, but a little stressful!

The small film crew arrived in my home on Monday, June 17, to film. My husband, Ian, and I were nervous and excited. The crew set-up in my little living room and we filmed the interview segment. The head of the crew, Chad, was very professional and patient as I sat for his questions. After the shoot at home, we spent an about an hour in the park filming more reflective segments.

Sunday, June 23, we were called to the Driskill Hotel to film the big reveal. Chad asked me to bring as many family members as I could. My parents, my sisters and their families met my husband in the lobby of the hotel. Unfortunately, my brother was working out of state and could not join us. Including myself, I brought a family of eleven! The production team was happy to see such a big family turnout!

Our call time for filming the reveal was at noon. However, the production fell behind schedule and we had to wait, nervously, for two hours. While waiting, we got to see another participant film their reveal and watch Earl Campbell greet fans.

Finally, we were called to the set to film the big reveal. Of course, I can’t say too much about they found, but I can say there were lots of tears and lots of laughter! The family was able to walk a little taller when we left the hotel.

I had a wonderful time on the roadshow and I hope that my story, along with the stories of the other families on the show, can inspire you to explore your own past and find your own place in history.