“I was told that I was the first Black woman at NBC 4 Washington to do sports.” – Sherree Burruss
It is no secret that sports is a male-dominated industry. Women had to break barriers and even taboos when it came to participating in sports. Now, something that was so foreign years ago is progressing as the years go on. Women, Black women specifically, are being recognized for their talents in all things sports-related, including sports anchoring. Like fearless millennial sports journalists such as Ros Gold-Onwude (Turner Sports) and Maria Taylor (ESPN), NBC Washington’s very own Sherree Burruss is breaking the glass ceiling for Black women in sports anchoring. The 27-year-old discusses her journey, challenges, and much more in sports below.
When did you first know you wanted to work in television?
I first knew I wanted to work in television when I was in eighth grade. I lived in Chicago, and I went to a broadcast museum, and they had a fake anchor set. I volunteered to do it, and my tour guide was like, “Wow, that was good. Have you ever thought about being in television as your profession?” Before then, I never did until a light bulb went off in my head. I got my first job doing news but I always wanted to do sports. My family is big in sports: my cousin has two gold medals; my other cousin played professional soccer; I did competitive cheerleading and gymnastics, so it felt natural. My old news director once told me not to be so bubbly doing news. I tried to convince him it was only because I had dimples when I smiled but that didn’t work. Being an athlete myself and still wanting to be in television was like a perfect marriage of the two.
What’s your biggest win to date in your career?
My biggest win in my career is being as successful as I am at 27. I think knowing the way this business used to be and how you had to pay your dues, you wouldn’t make it into a top 10 market, at least until your 30s. I’ve not hit my goals of what I’ve wanted to do in life but just being where I’m at to me is the biggest success. I’ve done interviews with John Wall, I’ve covered the World Series, and I’ve hit those high points at such a young age already, particularly being a Black female. I was told that I was the first Black female at NBC 4 Washington to do sports, which has such a legacy. To be able to have that title is mind-blowing. It’s 2018 and I’m still just a first. I think that it’s just so impactful and it drives me to want to do more knowing what I’ve accomplished just in my first five years of working in television.
What is your biggest challenge as a sports anchor?
My biggest challenge is knowing everything. When you’re talking to sport fans, they already know the names of their favorite player and the stats of their team. You have to be smarter than the people who live, breathe, and will die for their team. Sports is always evolving and growing and not playing every sport has been a study thing and not a way of life for me. Like obviously, I’ve never played football. I’ve never played hockey, so knowing how to communicate with those die-hard fans is by far the biggest challenge that I have faced in this industry. Everyday, I’m trying to learn, I listen, I ask so many questions just to absorb it all because there is so much to know.
What advice would you give to the younger Sherree and why?
Dear younger Sherree,
It’s okay not to be perfect all the time. No one is. Something I’ve learned about myself is that I take it hard and personal when I get something wrong, whether I say someone’s name wrong or misspell a tweet. Obviously being perfect and getting everything right is the goal but [so is] accepting that sometimes there are flaws. Someone told me when I was doing gymnastics and cheerleading, “You’re doing something hard, and you have to look good doing it, but you have to make it look easy.” That’s what I take with me when I’m doing live reports or anchoring, that you’re doing something hard but you have to make it look easy. And sometimes it’s not easy, and you have to accept it and get better. It’s a growth process. I don’t have to be perfect every time and be right every time. As long as I learn and I grow.
Where do you see your industry heading?
The future of television, sports, and media is headed in a digital age. There is nothing like using Twitter and Instagram to get viewers and get information out there quicker. But, you have to make sure you’re right. Something can be said about breaking news, and there’s something about having it said first, and if its not right, it’s much harder to clean. You have to build up your brand. That can be your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, websites, and podcasts. Anything that gets your name out there so people get a feel of who you are and like you. Sports anchors are all going to the same game, doing the same interviews, but the reason you tune in to a certain channel or follow a certain someone is that you like who they are. You have to have that draw to people. The biggest advice I give to people is that you just have to be nice in this business. It goes such a long way, and it’s almost a forgotten art. People have to like you and be able to connect with you to build your brand. The way you do that is through social media. With the growth of the internet, the options are endless of what you can do.
Follow Sherree Burruss on social media:
IG – @Sherree_Burruss
Twitter – @SherreeBurruss