Amara Baptist, Social Associate Producer at Fox Sports
So excited to spotlight this fierce and fearless dreamer today!
Amara and I actually haven't ever met, but that's the beauty of social media, sometimes you connect with like minded people, and just know you'd be friends! Amara is a social media superstar, if you are a sports fan, she's witty, fun, and hilarious on Twitter, definitely recommend
)! Amara has many people's dream job, she's the social associate producer over at Fox Sports.
Where’d you grow up? Major in college? (Did you ever want to change it during college, if so, why?)
"I grew up in Sunland, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and I majored in psychology. I really wanted to be a forensic psychologist,
but halfway through my courses I realized that it just wasn't for me. I
then started to take more psychology only classes which led to me c
hoosing communication electives which led to me being interested in communications/social media. I definitely wish I would have
known I wanted to work in sports earlier, because I wasn’t able to
get any internships which is how most people get started in the sports
When did you know you wanted to work in sports?
"I’ve always loved sports and really respected athletes because I was a professional ballet dancer for most of my childhood/young adult life.
My family is a huge college football family (Go Bucks) but I fell in love
with basketball and the Lakers around the age of 12. I didn’t really
think that I could make a living in sports, but as I researched it more
and started working and volunteering at more sporting events I knew
that I had found a passion other than dance, and I needed to pursue it
at all costs."
Everyone starts somewhere....
How did your love and passion for sports influence your internship/first job choices? It seems a lot of people have to pick up odd jobs to make ends meet to work in their dream field, did you find this to be true as well?
"I had a kind of odd route because my major in college didn’t allow me
to have any internships in the sports industry. My first “job” in sports
was interning at Kobe Bryant’s basketball academy and then volunteering at a Red Bull event at the LA Clippers practice facility. I
was fortunate enough to live in LA and live at home, so I wasn’t ever
concerned about making enough money to survive. I was also really fortunate to have people that I knew in the industry give me these volunteer opportunities and help me start to build a resume."
Also, for those that don’t know about Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy, tell us your involvement there, how you began there, and what you learned most? (he’s a legend)!!
"He IS a legend. I first found out about this camp that takes place every year in Santa Barbara, California because one of my good friends was a manger that year. He asked me if I would be interested in interning for the week and obviously being a HUGE Laker and Kobe fan, I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know, that after that week was when I really knew that working in sports was my dream. As an intern, we were responsible for taking care of all 600 of the campers, making sure they transitioned to each court and practice safely…UCSB is a huge campus. We also assisted in whatever the coaches
needed and filled in wherever necessary. I interned there for 2 summers, was promoted to a lead intern my second year, and was asked back my third year as a member of the staff. The major takeaway that I learned from that experience is that sports are not always glamourous. We worked 19-20 hour days for 6 days straight and it was very tedious and stressful. When people think of working in sports and especially being around an athlete as legendary as Kobe, you immediately think that it’s some glamorous event but really, it’s A
LOT of work and I was lucky if I had enough time to brush my hair. But you know what?That was part of why I fell in love with the experience…the grind."
Tell us about your journey to Fox Sports:
"This was also very unconventional…I was lucky enough to apply online to a entry level part time marketing position with the LA Dodgers (through Teamwork Online which I really really recommend getting an account if you don’t already have one) and was chosen, but was looking for something more steady and full time . I have always been really interested in social media but nothing professionally strictly personal. I built up a bit of a following on my own through talking about basketball, me being awkward in life always etc. Social media is something that kind of comes naturally for me because I’ve always loved writing and interacting with people. While working at Kobe Academy, I worked closely with a member of his marketing team. I knew her through Twitter, but I got to know her on a personal level and we bonded during that week. It turns out, she was close friends with my now boss at FOX, Pat Muldowney. Pat and I had been following each other on social media for a while so he knew my style/overall awkwardness and when a position became available, I was highly recommended for the job, was brought in for an interview, and was hired to be a social media producer for FOX Sports Live. Life is so crazy and I wouldn’t change it for a thing."
What would you say has been the biggest surprise in your career journey thus far, or something you didn’t expect?
"I think the thing that has pleasantly surprised me the most, is how willing people are to help one another. You hear all the time these horror stories about people stepping on each other to get to the top, and I’m more than sure this happens. But in my experiences, I’ve had nothing but support from every professional I have encountered. I often reach out to people that I respect and admire for advice, and every single one of them has been so great and so supportive and always willing to help. There is nothing more special in my opinion than a woman in the sports industry being willing to help and give another woman who is trying to build a resume and make a name for herself help, encouragement, and advice."
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
"Wow, I’m in such a different place than I was when I was 21. When I was 21 I was 100% sure I would become a professional ballet dancer and travel all around the world and dance forever. I tore a ligament in my foot that year, and couldn't dance for 15 months and never really danced the same. I would tell myself that as cliche as it sounds, everything really does happen for a reason. My life has been a series of twists and turns like pretty much everyone, but I couldn’t be happier with the
direction I’m going and I would not be here without going through the things that i thought at the time were disasters."
Social media in my mind is the present and future, what’s your favorite part about working in the field? Favorite memory or something that’s stuck with you?
"I totally agree with you! Social media IS the present and future. My favorite part about working in the field is interacting with people. It’s so crazy how just by tweeting at a fan you can literally make their day. My favorite memory so far is getting a letter from two of our shows biggest fans, the Martino sisters :). They both wrote individual letters and addressed different people on the show. I was mentioned in there and it made me feel so incredible to know that even though we’re in different locations, we are bonded through social media and it’s not just a verified account tweeting to someone, it’s person to person genuine interaction. It was awesome. Also, when Kobe Bryant followed me a few years back that was PRETTY insane and definitely a highlight."
The thing about social media is a lot just see a sliver of the story, what sacrifices have you made along the way to get to where you are today?
"I have to say, working at FOX has been the best experience. My coworkers are incredible, our hosts are incredible, our crew is incredible, our talent is incredible. One thing that I guess I have “sacrificed” is a social life. Our show is on at night so the hours that I work are definitely not conventional hours, but that’s pretty much the only thing I can think of. Before I got the job at the Dodgers and FOX though, I hustled really really hard. I essentially had no resume or work experience at all in the field and relied on connecting with people and grilling them for advice and direction. Getting my foot in the door without an internship was definitely the hardest part of my journey so far."
What are some obstacles you've
experienced and how have you
"The biggest obstacle that I’ve faced is proving myself. It’s really hard to get a job in this field because so many people are competing and want to work in this amazing industry. Like I said above, I had ZERO experience and my resume was basically all dance related, so getting someone who is reading my resume to take me serious was tough. I truly believe though if you want something badly enough and you do all things possible within your power to make it happen, it will happen. I never expected to be where I am right now, I was firmly set on working for an NBA team and I had no idea that social media was something that I would interested in. It just goes to show you, there’s a bigger plan for us than what we can see and we just have to grind and pray and trust and hustle."
Best career/life advice you’ve received, or a quote/saying that’s really stuck with you?
"I’ve received a lot of good life and career advice, but a quote that’s really impacted how I live my life is a quote by Phil Jackson: “Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.” When people think about careers and jobs especially in sports, having a compassionate heart doesn’t make the top of the list of things they think about. But I think that being compassionate and kind and genuine is so incredibly important. Being compassionate or kind is often looked down upon because it’s considered weak. I think though that having a compassionate and kind heart in a world that has so much pain and negativity is really special. I try to live my life truly caring for other people’s well being and that’s a trait that I am really proud of. So thanks Phil, you are forever my favorite!"
Being a woman in the sports field can be more challenging than others might expect...advice to young females looking to make a name for themselves in the industry?
"Unfortunately I would be lying if I said that I haven’t experienced sexism in my short time working in sports. Obviously in a male dominated world you’re going to have men who speak to you differently and treat you differently because you are a woman. I went into this pretty naive and have definitely experienced some things that I had no idea were coming. My best advice would be to stay true to yourself, know what
you have to offer and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Don’t go into situations naive and always be aware of potentially ulterior motives. Keeping integrity and your morals are incredibly important and most of all SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER. Women in sports are all in this together and the more we support and give advice to each other, the more we will ALL succeed. I’m seeing more and more incredible women making their marks on the sporting world (ie Becky Hammon, Nancy Lieberman) and it makes me so happy to see that times are changing and people are starting to not see gender but are just seeing individuals who all love the game."
If you weren’t doing social for FS1, or maybe social media at all, what else could you see yourself doing?
"This is a tough question, my heart has always been in basketball so I would say probably doing something with a team or with the league if I had that opportunity. But I also really love kids and was teaching ballet so I could also see myself still doing that. Before I fell in to social media, I was very interested in PR but it was nearly impossible to get my foot in the door. I really do love social media though and I really enjoy working on the broadcast side of television as well."
Anything you want to add about your job, career, or dreaming big!?
"Working in sports has opened so many doors and has allowed me to meet and interact with so many outstanding people. I wouldn’t change my life experiences for a thing, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities that i have had. I guess the last thing I would want to say is that don’t be afraid of your dreams…no dream is too big. Find and surround yourself with people that support you and believe in you because what you surround yourself with is what you become.
Dream big, stay true to yourself, work harder than anyone else in the room, and never give up."
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Thanks Amara for sharing more about your journey as you crush your dreams!