• Sun. May 16th, 2021
Sania Blu Exclusive Interview

After speaking with Sania Blu for just a few moments, you can feel her cool, calm, and confident energy. 

The 22-year-old recent college graduate is originally from Los Angeles but now calls Chicago her home. She attended the University of Missouri where she studied Sports for Broadcast Journalism and double minored in Sociology and Black Studies. She kept herself busy on campus, working not only her regular jobs but also as a sports anchor, producer, and reporter for NBC affiliate KOMU 8 News.

And it seems the hard work is paying off. Sania secured her dream job at ESPN, where she will be working as an intern with the ESPN Next program. From there she tells RoyalTee she will either be working as a production assistant for shows like The Jump, NBA Countdown, or NFL Live, or working covering live events and games. 

As a matter of fact, in 2020, Sania was the first Black person from Mizzou to receive the original production internship for ESPN. But the internship was canceled due to the pandemic. However, destiny has a funny way of working itself out. Later that year, an ESPN recruiter reached out to Sania and told her she was on the company’s radar and asked if she was available for another shot.  

Between packing and new job jittersSania had time to sit down with RoyalTee Magazine and talk about her goals, how she landed her dream job, what it took to get there, and the advice she’d give to those who are carving out their own career paths. Because let’s face it, not all of us are going to get to the success table the same way. However, the key is knowing it’s possible because we see Royal Woman like Sania doing it!  

RoyalTee: Did you always love sports? 

SB: My dad thinks that he really inserted the sports thing in me and to a degree, he kind of did. We used to listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning on our way to him dropping me off at school. And he used to say, “You’re going to be a sports journalist and you’re going to go to Northwestern and it’s going to be great, I’m going to get tickets to events…”

I told him no. I originally wanted to go to Julliard. I grew up dancing and I’m musically trained, but I knew at a certain point when I got to high school it’s not going to work out. I always loved people, though, and my passion for people and my passion for storytelling, specifically, are so vital to who I am as a person. 

But when I was in college, I knew I wanted to go into journalism. I started tutoring athletes and hearing the stories that they lived. Sometimes it would be so much as like their stipends that they were sending back to their families where they’re the sole providers. Just different realities that they have to deal with on top of the social aspect, the physical—like literally you’re giving your all. You’re giving 17 years, 18 years of your life to a sport to hopefully fit in a small window.

 

RoyalTee: Tell us a little bit about the new job! And big congratulations, by the way!

SB: Thanks! I am in a program called ESPN Next, which is really geared towards developmental and leadership growth. How it structurally works is that you’re working on the ESPN campus for a total of 18 months. The first nine months you work with a show and then for the second nine months you work with another show. And then after the end of your 18 months, you’re automatically promoted to a Content Associate or as an Associate and you have a little bit more responsibility.

I love moving, I love traveling, I love going new places, being in new spaces, other challenges, all that stuff. So, I’m most excited I think to start a whole new adventure.

From meeting different people to working with a company that I have dreamed about. And it’s also really fulfilling to know that my parents are so proud. I can get emotional over just that alone. But being able to network and meet people from different backgrounds, and just be part of teams that tell stories that I know will shape and encourage so many people’s lives. I think overall, those are the things I’m most excited about.

 

I love moving, I love traveling, I love going new places, being in new spaces, other challenges, all that stuff. So, I’m most excited I think to start a whole new adventure.

 

RoyalTee: What do you think it took to get to where you are now? 

SB:   To backtrack in terms of “what it took,” in college, I was the one whose friends eventually stopped—not to say this is healthy and this is good because there are two ends of it. But I was the one whose friends eventually just stopped asking me to hang out because I was always working. I worked three jobs in addition to being a full-time student.

But I always knew I wanted to be better. I wanted to be the best at whatever I could do. And it wasn’t about being better than anybody else, it was being the best for myself and hopefully telling the best stories that I could so that I can hopefully impact someone else.

My whole goal in everything that I do is I want whichever little girl, little boy, I want somebody to hopefully be able to see themselves in me and know that they can do it because I did it.

 

RoyalTee: What is your career end goal?

SB:  I saw myself as being on TV, but it wasn’t for the purpose of, like, I need to be in front of a camera. I was comfortable there. I loved it there. However, it was for the purpose of exposure for representation.

When I started working in production, I realized my end goal is I want to work on feature stories, such as 30 for 30s (ESPN documentary), that continue to tell real stories about real people with real impact. I plan on doing that in every form and fashion of my career.

I can’t even give you a structural, titled answer right now because I know I’m still changing and developing in that. But I know what I want to do and what I will do. And that’s being part of a story or being part of a team that tells stories where people walk away feeling better; feeling like they’re able to do something they didn’t know before, feeling like they have a different perspective.

That’s kind of my little way of changing the world.

 

My whole goal in everything that I do is I want whichever little girl, little boy, I want somebody to hopefully be able to see themselves in me and know that they can do it because I did it.

 

RoyalTee: Any words of encouragement for other young people who are working towards their dream job?

 

SB: One thing I would say is to stay true to you in every form and aspect, but don’t be afraid to grow. Do not be afraid to be uncomfortable.

Now, for your safety, be afraid to be uncomfortable. But in the progression of your work, try things that you may not even know existed or try things that you don’t think that you’re going to be interested in. But you can still be yourself in doing that. Find ways to toss a little bit of your secret sauce in there.

I would say another thing is your journey is yours. Especially in media, it’s easy for us to compare ourselves to one another. It’s easy for us to compare ourselves to the next journalist.

There was a good friend of mine who I used to compare myself to, not in a negative way, she was just, like, everything I aspired to be. 

I found I had to realize that her journey and her path, as great as it looked, were hers. Your journey is your journey and your path is your path. Your street was made for you to drive on in that specific God-given car.

And then lastly, it’s a grind, man. It’s a grind. Sometimes you’re going to have to sacrifice wanting to go out with friends. Don’t do that every time because you do need your time for yourself. But it can be a difficult balance, especially if you’re a super work-oriented person.

It’s a process that doesn’t stop processing. Always find a way to separate yourself from the rest of the pack, even though it’s your own path. Seize the moment, seize the opportunity, grind, learn your craft, get better at it. Some doors are not meant for you to walk through, but at least take the time to look at them, to see if it is an opportunity there. 

 

RoyalTee: How does it feel like to be on this fresh start in your life? 

 

SB: I personally love it. Like I said, I grew up traveling and moving around.

I’m excited to embark on this new journey. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself during this past year. And I’m going to learn more about myself and that’s what I think is a fresh start. I’ll be able to say I’ve lived from coast to coast.

And I can feel when it’s time for me to do new something new, have a fresh start. I can sense my irritability with where I am and the job offer came at the perfect time.

I was just like, ‘I am ready for something different and for something new, I’m ready for change.’ I needed a clean slate to kind of work with what I got, but start over at the same time.

Your journey is your journey and your path is your path. Your street was made for you to drive on in that specific God-given car.

RoyalTee: What makes you a Royal Woman?

 

SB: I think what makes me a Royal Woman is not only am I on a quest to do what’s best for myself but I also actively strive to create better for the people around me.

I feel really weird saying that about me in such a strong way. It’s really because people before me have done that.  I’m so blessed to have the support system I have even down to my parents… and to my friends and my colleagues. They have created support systems and pathways for me to be where I can be.

It is very important for me to be able to be a platform, to create these spaces for other girls, for other guys, for other people, to be the best versions of themselves. So, while I’m trying to secure my bag, I don’t believe in stepping on people on your way up.  I believe in bringing them up with you.

 

We already know Sania’s going to do big things in the worlds of storytelling and sports journalism, and we will be cheering her on from the sidelines! Follow her on Instagram to keep up with her journey! 

 

Zoë Lourey-Christianson

Zoë is a writer and comedian from Minnesota. She is currently living in Chicago where she likes to read, watch TV, and bake in her free time. She hopes to use her passion for writing and journalism to help educate people and build a better and more equitable world.