When it comes to her career, it feels like Joy Taylor has a rocket ship attached to her back. From sports radio in Miami to “Skip & Shannon: Undisputed” to “The Herd” and now the co-host of “Speak” on FS1, Taylor has become a prevalent personality in the sports media landscape.
She recently took some time to chat with OSDB Sports about her rise, and the challenges she has faced as a woman occupying a space normally reserved for men. Among the topics: her venture in horse racing and a minority ownership in a 3-year-old colt, Jace’s Road, who is on the bubble of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby via America's Best Racing's Stake in Stardom.
Q: So how did you get started in the business?
A: “I started in radio in Miami. I went to Barry University in Miami and started interning there. My first internship was with Joe Rose, when he was originally at 560 AM, I know the stations have changed a lot since I’ve been down there. And I also interned with DJ Laz when he was at Power 96.
“So, I started my career on the radio side. I also worked at the radio station at Barry. I wanted to get in with radio because I always wanted to be a personality. There’s a lot of different ways you can get into media, particularly sports media. But I didn't have a desire really to be an anchor or a sideline reporter. I wanted to do what I saw the business was trending towards, which was Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith and Colin Cowherd. And I saw the business sort of moving in that direction and it was something more aligned with what I wanted to do.
“And at the time, 2007ish, you didn't have podcasts and YouTube and streaming services or all of the things that we have access to now in the business to come up on the personality side. So, I really loved radio and the flexibility that it gives you to talk and really create an environment for listeners and fans to feel that they're a part of. So that’s how I got started.”
Q: How did having a brother (Jason Taylor) who is a Hall of Fame football player in the market you’re working, affect your career, if at all?
A: “He's obviously been a huge influence in my life and has a very intentional, great relationship with the media in Miami. He was always somebody that really respected what the beat writers and the media that they covered him did. So, he was greatly influential for me. But you also have to do the job and be willing to start at the ground level. … But yeah, Jason has obviously been a big part of my life and a big influence over my view of sports in general and how I cover sports.”
Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: “I think the business comes with a lot of different challenges. Being a woman, being a Black woman, being an opinionated woman. Wanting to be in a space where there aren't a whole lot of women at all, but particularly women that look like me.
“And insisting on that being my role I think has been the biggest challenge to get to where I am today now on a show where I’m equal to every man on the show. That was very important for me. And it was something that like I said, when I got into the business was my intention to do.
So, being that there haven't been very many women opinionists in general, women who hold those spaces on talk shows where they aren’t there in a specific role or aren’t there to cover a specific sport. It’s just their opinion and it’s equal to every man on the show no matter how he got there -- it’s pretty rare in our business. And when people don’t see things often, it can be difficult to envision you in those spaces.
“So, it’s always been very important to me to insist that’s where I wanted to be and position myself with different opportunities along my career path to get into that space.”
Q: Do you think that’s going to open up more opportunities for women moving forward -- do you think it’s part of the evolution of the business now or is still too problematic for some people?
A: “I hope so. I hope that the work the women who’ve come before me, the women who are in the business now and myself is laying the groundwork for that to open up. I think the work that we've done has been very intentional and very positive.
“And I think it also shows that there is an audience there. The pushback is the idea it's going to cause issues or there's just not a lot of women in those spaces, which is...There’s just not good reasons anymore. So, I certainly hope that it continues to change and shines in a more diverse direction.”
Q: Did you did you experience any pushback in your career?
A: “One thing is you mainly don’t see a lot of it. So, there's this anxiety over what people will listen to or respond to or will they respect your opinion because you didn't play sports. But the reality is a lot of the guys who hold these opinions and positions did not play professional sports. Most of them didn’t.
“So that's not a really rational idea that a woman wouldn’t hold that space because she didn’t play sports. And,actually, I did play sports. I played sports all through high school, all through middle school, and I ran track in college. So, I actually was a collegiate athlete, which ironically puts me in a different space than some of the men that I work with.
“So, I think that’s one thing. I also think there’s a misogynistic idea that women don’t have opinions about sports, that we like sports but we kind of just want to be on TV. It’s just something that’s a fun way to get into the business or you’re checking some box.
“But I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I don’t know any women who don’t have opinions about sports. That’s just what it is. You better have a thought if you’re going to hang in that space. So, it’s always been something to me to not just consume sports and enjoy sports but also have an opinion on what's happening and be a part of the discussion.”
Q: How would you describe being a big moderator between Skip and Shannon? Seems like there’d be a lot of landmines there?
A: “No. I can only speak from my experience and how I approach every show I work on, which is: I try to meet people where they are and be a professional obviously. And just respect the forum.
“The idea, at least when I was on the show, that there were heightened conversations, obviously, that get very passionate, but that was what the moderator was there for. In part to move the conversation along and make sure that we hit commercial breaks so that we can pay the bills, it’s moving around big personalities.
And I’m a big personality myself. So, I can respect where people are coming from when they have a strong opinion and when they want to be heard. And I had a great experience working with Skip and Shannon. And it was a great experience for me in live television.”
Q: But at the same time were you thinking, I want my own show, or I want to be the one giving the opinions?
A: “Yeah, of course. But the business is a process. And I think you have to pay your dues in some way. And, also,people have to be willing to give you an opportunity at the time you want it and am ready for it.
“I’ve looked at every position I’ve had in my career as something that made me better as a talent. There’s certainly been points in my career when I felt like I was ready for something, and I then I eventually got the opportunity and quickly learned that at the time I originally wanted it, I was absolutely not ready for it. So, everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. …So, it’s all about taking advantage of the opportunity you have in front of you and using it to get better at what you do, and respecting what you’re learning. And I did learn so much on that show. But also making sure you’re constantly working for your next step.”
Q: I understand your horse Jace’s Road is on the bubble of making the Kentucky Derby?
A: “Yes, very exciting!”
Q: Are you anxious or excited about it?
A: “Yeah, I try not to put crazy expectations on new experiences when I get involved with them. But obviously the chance to run in the Derby was a part of the appeal of being an owner. So yeah, he’s on the bubble (currently 21stin points). And if he gets enough points he’ll qualify for the Derby. And I’m going to the Derby this year for the first time, which is really cool because it’s a bucket list item. So, to do that alone is really cool, but to do that as a minority owner in a horse that’s running in it would be amazing.”