If you’re apart of the social media sports community, then chances are you’ve heard of Taylor Rooks.
Rooks, an anchor and field reporter for Sports New York has created quite the social media following, with over 60,000 followers on Twitter and more than 100,000 on Instagram. This is largely due to her extremely spicy hot takes on things happening in the sports world. These takes keep her followers coming back for more and most importantly starts dialogues within the online sports community.
Rooks also started her own podcast Timeout with Taylor Rooks in 2017.
On the podcast, she has interviewed guests ranging from NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant to rap superstar Meek Mill.
Even with all of her success, however, Rooks insists that as a young female journalist, she still struggles with getting people to take her seriously.
“The biggest obstacle is making people take me seriously,” Rooks told Fred Ennette on a recent episode of the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast.
“I don’t think that it’s always been that way. There were even times on my first job where I was just meant to come on the TV a couple of times, do my hits and then be done with it. I didn’t feel like I was doing serious work, and serious journalism and serious interviews. Now I realize that is a burden that is on you as a journalist to prove that it is something that you can do, that you’re qualified to do and that you should do. So, the biggest obstacle for me has been being able to show people that you are ready for the biggest things because when you are young and when you are a female you constantly are having to make people see past that so that has been the biggest hurdle that I’ve had to jump over.”
In addition to having to jump over the hurdles of being young and female in the sports industry, Rooks is an African-American working in sports during some of the most sensitive times in the industry. Despite that fact, Rooks understands that as a person of color she has a responsibility to use her platform to tell it like it is whether people agree with her or not. “I think that I am lucky to be in a position where I don’t have to feel like I am walking on a tightrope,” she said.
“On our panel show, I am very open about how I feel, that I am very open about how prevalent an issue race is in our society right now and how it needs to be discussed and I think that it is very important to have black voices speaking on it, and having female voices speaking on it. I don’t ever want to feel like I am compromising myself, because I feel that I have a responsibility to speak what I feel is my experience as well as the experience of many other people.”
“I don’t think that I have ever encountered a time where I didn’t think I could speak because it would jeopardize my job or career or money luckily for me. However, I do understand that for some people that is reality and you have to be careful, but I think that this time that we are in is just so important and so vital to kind of progress a conversation that needs to be had. I’m just happy that just a little part of me is able to be a part of a much bigger conversation.”
At just 26 years old, Rooks has achieved a lot at a relatively young age. That has a lot to do with the fact that she jumped into the sports industry at an early age, during her time in undergrad at the University of Illinois. “It all started in college when I started a blog and that blog began to pick up traction,” she said.
“I ended up working for a lot of different news and sports outlets when I was in college at the Big Ten Network, Fox Sports, CBS Sports and that’s when I got my first job and the Big Ten Sports Network and now my second job at Sports New York.”
Although Rooks is a self-starter, she’ll be the first to tell you that she is not self-made. Rooks credits the many people who make up her village for the success that she has enjoyed up to this point in her career. “My mom and dad are by far my biggest supporters,” she said.
“I also give so much thanks to the people who decided to bet on me and decided to give me a chance like Quentin Carter, who hired me at the Big Ten Network. He hired a 22-year old right out of college to be on a live show I mean that has to be so much stress but for him to believe in my talent so much I definitely owe a debt of gratitude to him. Cedric Hayes is the person who was overseeing me during my internship in college and he taught me everything, the experiences that I got working with him were so vital to what I started doing right after I got out of school because I was able to see what it was like to cover a team, put together a package and all the basic fundamental things that make up a good journalist and reporter. So, I definitely owe a great deal of thanks to those people who decided to bet on me and believe in me.”
Rooks is one of the hardest working people in the sports industry and has already accomplished so much at a young age. She’s always thinking about what her next move is going to be.
One thing she is working on is her ability to just step back and reflect on her journey. “It all does sometimes seem very surreal,” she said.
“But at the same time I did always have the faith that my dream would come to fruition. I do sit back and just see how blessed, lucky and grateful I am that I have gotten to this point and also look at how much more I have to go. I am a person who is always looking for the next thing and how I can do better and improve on certain things but I’m working on being able to step back and be in the moment and appreciate where I am now but there really is so much more that I want to do and so much more that I want to accomplish.”