Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel.
Oh, those college athletes. It takes quite a dedication to play a sport in college between the classes, workouts and games. Imagine adding the possibility of going to the Olympics – now that is a whole other level. Meet Ashley Brewer, ESPN host extraordinaire who was not only a swimmer at USC but made it to the Olympic trials! Brewer can talk sports with the best of them, and adds the insight of having been an athlete herself. The Overhead Compartment was excited to take a dip with Ashley Brewer and discover what life was like for an Olympic hopeful turned broadcaster after landing one of the most coveted jobs in sports.
The Overhead Compartment with Ashley Brewer starts now……
OC: You recently moved back to LA to co-host SportsCenter, how do you prepare for the show?
AB: From the minute I wake up on days I have a show, I get into prep-mode. When I walk my dog in the mornings, I’m listening to a sports podcast or ESPN Radio. I then spend the day watching whatever shows are on ESPN, reading articles online and watching games. I do my own hair and makeup, so I get ready while we do a pre-show meeting call to talk about what the show will look like. I get to our studio way too early because I like to overprepare and take my time. I sitdown with our producers for about an hour and talk about the show, watch games together and come up with talking points for interviews. It’s a huge collaborative effort and I love working with such creative people who help make me look good on TV.
OC: What is the biggest difference doing the show out of Los Angeles vs Bristol?
AB: Not having to tread through snow walking to the studio! Just kidding. But besides the obvious of not working on a massive campus in Bristol, the entire vibe of the show is totally different. I think there’s a west coast, laid back feel to our content and delivery. We have segments in our show that are personal to talent and our crew, heck, we had a segment with Frank the security guard! I love the tight-knit family we have here because our office is so small.
OC: You were a serious and accomplished swimmer in high school and college and even competed in the 2012 US Olympic trials for the 100m backstroke. How does that experience inform the way you cover sports now?
AB: Thank you, it feels like a lifetime ago because so much has happened since then. I always like to think “I get it,” as in the way I interview athletes or react to certain topics or situations. I understand the lifestyle, commitment, sacrifice etc, because I lived it for almost 20 years. I also have learned empathy from it- I never get offended when a guy in a locker room doesn’t feel like talking or has a bad day. I’ve been there, and can’t imagine the pressure and issues fame, money and social media now bring to today’s athletes in 2021.
OC: You also come from a family of serious athletes with a brother who was a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a USC Volleyball playing sister and another brother who played QB for the University of Virginia. How competitive with each other were you all growing up?
AB: Every day was like a WWE match growing up, in the BEST way. Five kids, all athletes- I don’t know how my parents did it. Every day was spent outdoors, playing games and sports in our big backyard. We were constantly in competition with each other, while also cheering each other on. I pretty much grew up at baseball fields, watching my brothers and Dad, who was the coach. Seeing them accomplish great things in their sports careers are my favorite memories of my life so far.
OC: Your mom was a news anchor, did she influence your interest to be on the air?
AB: My mom has always been my hero, but I never wanted or planned to get into TV until my senior year of college at USC. I had only dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer my entire life. So when swimming was ending (I had never had a job because I trained 8 hours a day, all year) my mom called in a favor to get me an internship at ABC-LA. That’s where my career was born! My mom has been my biggest champion and mentor my entire career, I call her after every show even still today. She has led me through every high and low, been very honest and critical when I needed it, and has always been my number one fan.
OC: What is the best advice she offered you?
AB: To be patient. I remember sitting in the parking lot at my internship, crying because all of the other seniors were so ahead of me. They had amazing reels and experience, and I had no idea what I was doing. She told me to stay focused on my own path, continue outworking them, and my career would take care of itself in time. Yet again, mom is always right!
OC: What’s one piece of advice you would offer someone trying to break into the business?
AB: Be yourself. It sounds cheesy, but I believe staying true to my personality and unique sense of humor separated me from the crowd of others trying to make it. I always tell young journalists to play up your strengths and what makes you- you, while also pushing yourself to do things you’re not great at in order to improve. I’ve always been vocal about my love for baseball, hockey, and MMA, which is probably a unique combo. I think it’s allowed me to appeal to a different crowd, while being genuine to who I am and what I am good at.
OC: To date, what’s the most exciting interview you have done?
AB: My first ever interview with Kobe Bryant in 2018. I was so nervous and talking a million miles per hour, because like so many 90’s kids growing up out west, he was our hero. I was blown away by how kind, warm and patient he was. He spent 15 minutes after the interview asking me about my life, family and career, when he had a handful other people waiting to talk to him. That day, he gave me an incredible piece of advice I’ll never forget… “always be curious.” And that was a challenge to always question things, learn new subjects, ask questions and grow every day. I’ll never forget it.
AB: You lived in LA for many years, top three favorite restaurants?
OC: I love eating out, especially in LA and New York City.
1. Izakaya by Katsuya in Manhattan Beach, best sushi on earth
2. Mastro’s, because of one thing- butter cake!
3. Malibu Farm, a super healthy breakfast and lunch spot right on the water.
OC: Favorite place to vacation?
AB: Las Ventanas Al Paraiso in Cabo San Lucas. The most fabulous hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The food, pools, and service make it feel like heaven on earth.
OC: Top three wish-list places to visit?
AB: I could name twenty! But mostly- Greece, Paris and Switzerland.
OC: Tell us about Hank?
AB: My parents surprised me with Hank for my birthday in December, and he instantly filled a huge part of my heart and brought me company while living alone in Connecticut. He is so sweet and loving, but also can be a huge pain in the butt! I feel like I raised a child as a single mom, he was a ton of work but I’ve loved having him. He has gotten so big now, I joke that he now walks me instead of the other way around.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
AB: I check out the bath tub situation, I take one every single night! After that- I check for a robe. If a room has both, we’ve got a winner!
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
AB: A phone charger. I’m not proud of it, but I spend way too much time on my phones. Yes- I said phones because I have two, haha! I love keeping in touch with my friends and family since I’m so far away, and have also gotten hooked on Tik Tok. So my phone is always dying!
Ashley Brewer, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.