Taylor Rooks has put in the work over the years in sports journalism to become one of the top broadcasters in her field. Now, she’s ready to not only take the podcast industry by storm but she’s also ready to expand her brand beyond the sports world. If you ever wanted to learn more about Taylor’s start in journalism, her takes on hot topics and what she has in store for the future, we’ve got you covered!


Being from Georgia and coming from a family filled with athletes, talk to us about your upbringing and how that shaped your love for sports.   

Sports have always been a key part of my life because it’s so engrained in my family. I grew up always hearing about my dad and his legendary football moments at the University of Illinois. We’d go to St Louis in the summers and sometimes I got to walk on the field for my Uncle Lou’s birthday when he threw out the first pitch at Cardinals games.  

I grew up watching my mom love football and be the biggest, most avid football fan that I know. Sports has always been a part of my life and I feel lucky I was able to understand the game as a viewer and fan, but also as someone who recognizes what it takes to be an elite athlete due to my proximity to it. I was able to have a true 360 view of sports and I attribute that perspective to my love of not just the game – but those that play it. 

For those like me who have no clue about anything sports related, what does being a woman in sports journalism entail?   

For me, my main job is an interviewer. I have built my career on storytelling and giving sports figures the space to speak about themselves in open and honest ways. I view that as my superpower. I conduct sit-down interviews for TNT Sports, Bleacher Report, and Thursday Night Football. I interview athletes from every sport. On top of interviewing, I host shows and occasionally do sideline reporting.  

You mentioned the first time you were in a professional media setting you had to figure out how to distinguish yourself from the other reporters at the time. How did you cultivate your interview style?  

I cultivated my interview style by asking good and different questions. That may sound simple, but that’s because it is. I always felt interviews weren’t consistently productive because the subject was repeatedly asked the same questions. They weren’t given the space to be anything else because every interview was just a variation of the last one.  

For my whole life, my favorite thing has been talking to people and having a true exchange of thought. When I thought about how I wanted to interview, the thing I knew for sure was that my interviews should mirror my everyday conversations. And no two conversations are the same.  

I want my interviews to feel like you are speaking with someone who wants to understand you. Someone who listens. The only way to really listen in an interview is shown by your ability to ask follow up questions and your ability to synthesize your subject’s thoughts for the audience.  

The most important part of my style though is that you walk away from interviews learning something new about the player or that player says something that creates conversation. In my opinion, an interview is a waste of time if neither of those things happen because that means I didn’t do my job as the question asker. You have to employ warmth, tact, respect, fearlessness, and genuine curiosity in order for interviews to be consistently successful and for your work to move the needle.  

When did you first realize your career as a sports journalist was taking off?  

I interviewed Michael Beasley when I was at SNY, and it was my first mega viral moment. We were having a conversion about using 10% of your brain. The next week some people went to Madison Square Garden wearing shirts that read “Using 11% of my brain.” It was the first time an interview I had translated to a real-life cultural moment, and it showed me that people were watching.  

You’ve spoken about how women in sports journalism are often encouraged to be an “ideal woman” in the sports space. What do you imagine that ideal woman to be? How were you able to carve a lane for yourself outside of what is expected of women in sports journalism?  

When you’re learning about journalism in school there aren’t many lessons in individuality. You are all expected to report stories the same way and be on camera the same way, which in turn sends the message that journalists are not supposed to present as much differently than one another.  

But as I aged, I realized the point is to be yourself. You are encouraged not to be the story – and you should never be the story – but who you are should shine through in your stories. It’s what makes you valuable in and to the space. I never wanted to be a woman that just blended in and did the job. I wanted to stand out and be excellent at the job. I was able to carve a lane by bringing more authenticity to the space.  

 As a journalist you’ve created a space where guests can show up as their full self. How would you say you’ve done that?  

I’ve done it by making others feel comfortable and asking questions about who they are as people, not just as athletes. I think my word choice and framing is also very important. Asking someone why they lost the game is a different question than asking them if they feel the loss was their fault.   

The way you frame questions has to force your subject to think about their answer, to search for their thought. I like feeling as though we are exploring throughout the interview and that exploration allows for revelations and makes them comfortable showing who they are.  

You’ve said that you think it’s hard for people to understand that men and women can have strictly platonic relationships, so when you’re interviewing athletes, the fans can easily make it seem like you’re involved with them in some way. Talk about how you were able to maneuver through this and any advice you have to other women in sports journalism who are experiencing the same thing.  

One of the best gifts of this career has been the relationships and friendships I’ve built. The athletes in the leagues I cover are always respectful and professional and many of them have advocated for me in rooms that I’m not in. Sports twitter likes to see any women in sports next to a man and create very weird projections and fantasies about the nature of their relationship. 

 It sounds like simple advice but the best thing I can say is that it says so much more about them and says nothing about you. You show up as a professional and you do your job the right way. The truth is the truth. The truth doesn’t change based on what people say.  

 I loved when you said, “I’m going to have chemistry with everyone I meet. Having chemistry with everyone is a gift, skill and talent.” For those who may not have natural charm and charisma, what are a few ways they could improve on these skills?   

There’s a story people always tell (the validity is debatable lol) but it’s about Jennie Jerome. They say that when she was a young woman, she went to dinner with British politician William Gladstone, and she left thinking that he was the smartest most clever man in England. 

 And later she went to dinner with his rival Benjamin Disraeli. And she left that dinner thinking that SHE was the smartest, most clever person in England. Having charm and charisma is about being more like Disraeli than Gladstone. It’s cool when people think you’re great, but it’s much better when you make people feel great. Listening to others and genuinely caring about how you make them feel about themselves is the first and most important step.  

You’ve spoken about how frustrating it can be when people put your looks before your talent. How you don’t have an issue with being complimented on your beauty but don’t like it when your talent is overlooked because of it. We often hear about the benefits of “pretty privilege” but rarely the downsides of it. In your opinion, what are a few ways pretty privilege has worked against you?   

Being seen and not heard. Doing an interview and the first compliment being how pretty you look on camera as opposed to how good your questions are. Having a great interview and the instant reaction being they only gave a good answer because I’m pretty. Being told regularly that you only have the job because you are attractive.  

Simply being in a photo with a man in public and the assumption being you are in a relationship with that man or that man wants to be sexually involved with you. Walking into rooms with men or meetings with men that you were initially excited about until you realized they may have an ulterior motive. These aren’t complaints, it’s just the reality and the downside of your appearance always being a huge part of your story. Being pretty is not an accomplishment and it certainly isn’t what I want to be the first thing someone says about me. I am so many other more important adjectives.   

You once talked about the major over sexualization of black women in the sports space. How we can wear what other women are wearing, but due to our body types it can be perceived differently. I know that you’ve learned to tune remarks about your body out but talk to us about when you started realizing this was an issue in the sports space and how you overcame it.   

Honestly, I realized it when every interview I did would become a meme. Or every comment would have something to say about my body. The one that sticks out the most was an interview I did with Dwyane Wade in 2018. I wore a turtleneck and pants.  It created a very viral meme of people discussing my body in that interview and that I “knew what I was doing in that outfit”, but I was the most covered up a person could possibly be! 

 The issue wasn’t with my outfit, it was with my body. Historically and socially people have hyper sexualized black women and seen us as objects of desire or a jezebel that invites sexual objectification. These learned ideas and false stereotypes show themselves in sports culture as well when viewers see black women on screen and instantly weaponize their bodies. I realized it’s not my responsibility to make other people comfortable with the way my body curves or rounds. This is what I look like, and this is how I was made. I’m going to step into this space as myself. A black woman. And everything that comes with that.  

You’ve mentioned how you want to be known as a cultural figure, not just in sports. Talk to us about what you’d like to accomplish outside of the sports world to become that.   

I want to be a thought leader. I want to have verticals that touch music, movies, tv shows, entertainment. I’d like to produce and be able to tell stories from behind the camera. I want to make a career out of being myself.  

That means not feeling like I have a lane or a box. My niche is me. That means it’s everything I enjoy and everything I want to surround myself with.  I want my work to be timeless. I want the work to transcend. I view it as being a cultural figure, because I want to touch people. Not just sports fans.  

You’re currently working on Thursday Night Football, Bleacher Report and Turner Sports covering both football and basketball. If you could only choose one sport to cover for the rest of your life, which sport would it be and why?  

What a tough question! But I’m going to cheat a bit in my answer lol. When it comes to covering games and being on the ground, I’m choosing football 10 times out of 10. There’s nothing like telling that story on the field before kickoff in a stadium filled with thousands! 

 When it comes to interviewing, I’d interview basketball players forever. They always have amazing stories, they know themselves, and they’re not afraid to answer questions.  

When it comes to your personal life, you’ve always kept your love life private – for obvious reasons. You once said that partnership is important to you. You don’t want to compromise your career for your relationship, so you plan to make time for both. When you think about your future as a wife and mother who still has a prominent career, what do you envision?   

I used to wonder if you could have it all. Now I know for sure that having it all depends on the people you choose to be around you and your romantic partner is the most important. I feel really lucky to be loved in my fullness. 

 I’m lucky to be supported and seen and cared for without ego or conditions. It has allowed me to reach towards my fullest potential as a person and as a woman. Being fully loved and loving someone fully is a life changing experience. When I think about my future as a wife and a mother, I see me embracing my multiple identities. 

 Understanding that being a wife and mom will require the most important and most demanding level of commitment I’ve ever had in my life and that’s exciting. Allowing yourself to be in the service of the people you love more than anything.  

My job comes naturally to me, the hard work is fun for me. There will always be room for it in my life because it’s also a part of me. Because I find deep meaning in it as my calling. But being a wife and a mother is something I see as my purpose.  

Let’s talk about hair care while working in the media. You’ve said that you used to get your hair straightened weekly which is crazy when you put in perspective how much heat that is on your natural hair! Now we see you wear various protective styles from faux locs, sew ins and braids. Talk to us about your favorite hair products and which style is your favorite to wear right now.   

I am so obsessed with my WIG! This is the first time I’ve ever worn a wig and I’m obsessed. It’s a half wig, so my hair is all out in the front and the top and the wig in the back adds length and volume. I wanted it to match the texture of my hair so instead of getting silky straight, it’s kinky straight and goes seamlessly with my texture. 

 My favorite hair product of all time is the Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask. Moisture is the answer to all things. I love the versatility of black hair and I’m having the best time trying new things that enhance the existing beauty of our crowns. 

Your new show, the “Two Personal Show” will be revealing a raw and uncut Taylor Rooks that we’ve never seen before. Talk to us about how this new business venture with Joy Taylor came about.   

Joy is one of my closest friends and we have such great conversations! We wanted to bring all the talk from the group chat to the internet. We really wanted to create a show that women could tap into and hear perspectives that were based in real life experience, real life trial and error, and included necessary context and nuance. We wanted to create that place and made a promise to one another that we would approach each episode as authentically as possible.  

You’ve mentioned that it was therapeutic to record the “Two Personal Show”. What about it feels like a therapy session to you and what do you hope listeners will gain from it?   

I’m a big advocate of therapy and I go once a week. One of my favorite parts of my therapy sessions is that it’s a place where you can just talk. You can talk about your day, what’s bothering you, what made you happy, what you’ve been thinking, etc. The ability to just say what’s on your mind is one of the biggest gifts of therapy and when I record the show, I get a similar feeling simply because I’m able to be open and speak to Joy, someone that I know cares for me and my thoughts. 

 It’s therapeutic to speak and it’s therapeutic to feel heard. I hope listeners always feel like they are participants in the conversation we are having, and I hope when they hear things, they relate to that they understand they aren’t alone. Above all else, I want the listeners to see the power in telling and owning your own story. That’s something I wish I realized earlier.  

What made you want to bare who you are to the world in such an intimate way?  

This was a natural evolution of who and what I want to be in the media space. I want to build a community and the only way to do that is to show who you really are. I love doing sports media, but it’s not a place where I can discuss my opinions or give my thoughts and perspectives on life. 

 Unfortunately, the internet has discouraged people from being honest about themselves and their experiences. It can be an incredibly judgmental and harsh place. But you are who you are regardless of the reaction.  

Once I felt comfortable and solid enough in who I am individually, personally, and professionally, it felt so incredibly freeing to take this step and invite people into Taylor Rooks the person and not just Taylor Rooks the sports journalist.  

How many episodes will there be in a season? Will you two have special guests on the podcast or will it solely be you and Joy?   

We will be going weekly for 9 months out of the year. Every Wednesday! It’s a guest-friendly show but not a guest-based one. The guests will be some of your favorite stars from music and entertainment!  

What’s next for Taylor Rooks? What can your supporters expect to see from you this year? 

More of the same, but better! 


Editor In Chief: Prince Chenoa (@princechenoastudio)

Feature Editor: Taylor Winter Wilson (@taylorwinter)

Cover Art Design: Carlos Graciano (@sadpapi666)

Photographer: Savanna Ruedy (@savannarruedy)

Makeup Artist: Elliot Valle (@ellevee_)

Hair Stylist: Jazmyn Hobdy (@hairbyjazmeen)

Stylist: Branden Ruiz (@branden.ruiz)

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