Taylor Rooks is one of the sports industry’s rising stars. No, she isn’t hitting the court or the field as part of a team, but she has become a top sports commentator. She recently sat down with EBONY to discuss her new Bleacher Report series, Take It There With Taylor Rooks, hiring a predominately female crew and growing up in a sports family.
The series, which begins April 3, is a “full interview show where you get a deep dive into the athlete or entertainer we have as a guest that week.”
“A lot of these athletes have invited us into their home, so you’re seeing the interviews in very unique settings, environments that are comfortable to them. It just allows you to get a better peek and an in-depth peek into who they are as people—and not just who you see on the court or field,” Rooks said while sharing insight about what makes her show so unique.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate is a lifelong sports fan who comes from a family of athletes. “My uncle is Lou Brock. He is a [Major League Baseball ] Hall of Famer for the [St. Louis] Cardinals. My dad played at the University of Illinois; he was a running back there,” she explained.
While the men in her family had tons of experience on the field, Rooks got her passion from her mother. “My mom didn’t play sports, but she’s the best fantasy football player ever. She loves it. We’re very much a football family. I’m Southern, so we’re all about football,” she said. “I’ve always loved the idea of competition, I love the idea of winning and that’s one thing that’s great about sports. There’s a definitive winner. There’s are definitive people that work hard and excel at it more than others. I just like the idea of hard work and where it can get you and the stories that surround that hard work.”
Despite growing to love a male-dominated sports industry, Rooks denied ever being treated differently. “I love my parents for so many reasons, but the one thing they always instilled in me is if you can put your mind to something, you can do it and I never doubted that.”
She’s using her new platform to tackle false perceptions about womanhood. “I don’t ever feel like I’m here despite being a woman. I feel like I’m here because I’m a woman and because of what that means,” Rooks said. “I understand how critical our voices are to this realm. I understand that being a Black woman is such a big part of my identity. I draw a lot of strength from those two things. Being a woman and being Black are incredibly important to me to always push to the forefront.”
One of the first things the 26-year-old did when she landed her new show was bring on a predominately female staff. “I’m always fighting for women, always fighting for people of color and I’m just happy that the staff is representative of so many of the things I truly believe in. It’s one thing to say this is what you think and it’s one thing to do it, and I’m happy we were able to actually do it.”
Take it There With Taylor Rooks will air Wednesday on Bleacher Report.
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Jasmine Washington is a beauty-obsessed journalist by day and a trap music connoisseur by night. A lifelong New Yorker, she got her start as an intern at the now-defunct Juicy Magazine. Jasmine joined the EBONY.com team as a writer, penning daily stories on all things Black culture and entertainment.