MELANIE COLLINS | TV Host + Sports Broadcaster | No. 07
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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
Chances are you've seen Melanie Collins on TV. She's been a TV + Sports Broadcaster for ten years covering a variety of sports on NBATV, The Big Ten Network, NFLonCBS, ESPN, Golf Channel, PGA.com, and has filled in on ESPN's First Take and SportsNation. As any good host, he's dabbled in the entertainment industry too but as you'll hear, her heart is with hockey.
That's how Mel and I first met. It took us a good 6-7 years of a friendship to get to this Podcast conversation and confess that we both looked at one another as the 'girl who had it all'. Women in competition. Unattractive, yet prevalent. We make our peace and discuss why competition is so rampant and heavy amongst women, especially in our industry.
“We have this view of the industry where we look at it through a scarcity lens. Because we’re women and because jobs are so hard to come by already - or we feel that way - we feel that there’s not room for all of us. Especially with the great jobs that we feel will get us the most exposure."
Growing up in State College, PA, Mel grew up around her brothers and sports acted as a way to connect with them.
“For me - being the only girl in the house - the only way that i could really participate in playing with my brothers was to suit up and go in net and let them shoot on me, or go play tennis with them, or whatever. So, I just kind of .. I began to like sports because it was kind of what I knew. It was the way that I fit in with my brothers."
At the age of 12, Melanie's parents divorced and after two years of moving back and forth between her Mom and Dad's house, she had to face a tough decision.
“It was traumatic when i was young. For the first two years after my parents divorced, i would go to my dad’s house for a week and then i would come back to my mom’s house for a week. I chose to live with my mom and i think my dad from that point kind of took that as i was choosing my mom over him, which sucks when your’e a 14 year old girl. I felt the relationship with my dad kind of fizzle after i chose to live with my mom but i needed it for mental stability. i needed to be in one place and be with my things. And i needed to be with my mom. From that point on, my dad and i kind of grew apart and you know, we still talk to this day but it’s definitely not ... i never had that like daddy’s girl relationship with my dad that all my friends had and that i always wanted.”
Melanie is tough. One almost has to be thick-skinned in order to survive in this industry. She works hard. She has a no-quit mentality. She's the best of the best. I mean it. I've seen a lot of women come and go in this industry. There are few like Mel. And even fewer who've gone through troubled waters during the early stages of their career, coming out as a survivor.
Dubbed as "The Next Erin Andrews", one day Melanie's agent called to inform her about pictures surfaced on the internet. The 'butt-crack' pictures from college, couple with a bikini photoshoot nearly derailed her career. Every subsequent job interview questioned her integrity:
"It was awful. I remember having to specifically fly to ESPN at one point and explain that photo to higher ups at ESPN and i just thought, how did it get to this point....it’s just like I somehow created this monster...some slutty college girl who shouldn’t be hired because she licks butt cracks and wears a bathing suit.”
I'd be the first (and certainly not the last) to say that these experiences were undeserved, unfair, and unimaginably harsh especially for a woman like Melanie; poised, smart, kind, hard-working, and mindful.
But that is the industry. Further in the conversation, I share my experiences dating a Hockey Player and how that affected my job, my behavior, and future opportunities. NHL, I knock at you. I do not apologize. It's time that things change. Melanie reiterates the statement after losing a job opportunity BECAUSE of her relationship with James Neal.
"An opportunity came up with NHL Network where they were looking for a full time host. I was told you’re our top candidate. It’s yours to lose. We’re stunned by your audition. We’re so excited about you. Here I am thinking I’m getting this job. I get a call about a week later and my agent says, ‘hey you know, unfortunately NHL Network feels that your relationship is an issue and they can’t offer you a job. That’s where my relationship with an athlete in this field has gotten me."
As you'll hear in the intro of the podcast we touch on much more. This was TRULY a breath of fresh air for me. Sure, Mel and I have had these types of conversations off-air but we both felt it was time to start SPEAKING OUT about the inner-workings of this industry. At 30 + 31, we've done the work. We've proven we belong over and over again. We have nothing to hide. With our Truth we want to create the space for the future generation of young women to have equal opportunity, success, and respect in our industry.
So THANK YOU MEL. For being candid, honest, kind, and open-hearted as we weaved through this conversation. Much love to you. xx.
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I DON'T LIKE CHEATERS BUT HERE'S A QUICK CHEAT-SHEET FOR YOU.
YOUR SUGGESTED TAKEAWAYS + LESSONS:
Why Women Compete (in general + in Mel's industry)
Working in a male-dominated industry
Lack of Women supporting other Women in the Industry; looking for dirt on one another, spreading rumors, etc.
The imposter-syndrome and why Women feel like they constantly have to prove themselves, their worth and that they belong
Why you can't win in the world of sports broadcasting; there will always be something you "could do" better
Discussing Megyn Kelly's interview with Erin Andrews
Cutting off Emotion: in order to succeed in the industry do Women have to act like a Man? (and what does that mean?)
Why after 10 years in the industry Mel feels desensitized
growing up with brothers and surrounded by sports
parent's divorce + the negative affects on her childhood
Why self-discovery, reading and self-evaluating is important for personal growth
What we can learn from heartbreak and how to recover from things that don't go your way
Why Mel believes that "everything happens for a reason"
How the media dubbed her "the next Erin Andrews" and the pitfalls of comparing yourself to another person
Why she believes she's her own toughest critic
How Social Media can Negatively Affect the Trajectory of your career:
we speak about the Butt Crack Pictures leaked on Deadspin
the swimsuit calendar photographs from her college years
how to protect yourself from these types of circumstances
what she's learned from this particular experience
and how to bounce back from it...
Why it's hard to trust other women in the industry
Trusting and building a relationship with Charissa Thompson
The double standard of dating an Athlete in your industry
the repercussions of dating an athlete
losing a job because of her relationship with James Neal
James' reaction to the missed opportunity
why + how this needs to change
The affects on self-esteem, confidence, body image + looks when working in the TV industry
Women + Labels in the industry:
Hot = Stupid
Not = Smart
How Producers have pushed her to change her image/look in order to fit the part
Truths, Flaws, lessons-learned, (Stinkin' Thinkin')
Mel's definition of success + happiness
+ so much more....