CARTERVILLE — Southern Illinoisans who tune into a new game show tonight may notice one of the contestants looks a little familiar. Sean Johnson, who is one of the first contestants on the new game show “Emogenius,” was born in Marion and grew up in Carterville.

“Emogenius” pits two teams of two contestants against each other as they try to solve a puzzle based on emojis and text messaging. First, the teams decode a series of pop culture-inspired messages. Then, they send each other strings of emojis that the other has to guess. Finally, one team advances to a bonus round with a $10,000 prize.

What is an emoji? An emoji is a small digital picture or icon used in electronic communication to express an idea or emotion, such as a smiley face or heart.

Johnson said he actually uses few emojis, and he probably uses them differently than other people. His girlfriend and game show partner, Sarah Chaney, loves to use them.

“I chastise her every chance I get when she uses emojis,” Johnson said. “It was 100 percent fun. I wish we would have won $10,000.”

Johnson and Chaney had to audition for the show. The auditions were on Feb. 14, which is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Johnson’s birthday.

“She was really upset with me for going at the time, then they ended up picking us,” Johnson said.

The episode was filmed about two months ago. "Emogenius" will air at 8 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, June 14, on the Game Show Network. Johnson said they filmed 13 episodes and then chose the one for the premiere. The show is hosted by Hunter March.

"It wasn’t harder than I expected. Common sense under the gun, the pressure builds up," Johnson said. "I wasn’t able to be able to recognize some songs that I know every other day of my life."

Johnson lives in Los Angeles where is he a producer, actor and writer. Chaney is a producer working on location in Columbus, Ohio, on a new feature film. 



Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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