Gabrielle Amado: “Be the most prepared person in the room”

Be the most prepared person in the room. One of the best ways to get the job (and keep it) is to prove you are the best prepared and most knowledgeable person in every room you walk into. Preparation is key and it can’t be faked. Trust me, I’ve seen people try. Put in the […]

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Be the most prepared person in the room. One of the best ways to get the job (and keep it) is to prove you are the best prepared and most knowledgeable person in every room you walk into. Preparation is key and it can’t be faked. Trust me, I’ve seen people try. Put in the work — always. Whether that means showing up to production meetings with a list of the day’s news or clever segment ideas to making sure you are fully prepped for a huge interview. Put in the work at every single level, every single day, and you’ll make it.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Journalist”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gabrielle Amado, a multilingual, multimedia journalist covering international soccer for beIN SPORTS. Amado is one of the few women to host a nationally televised sports broadcasting show and report on some of the world’s biggest matchups.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Growing up in a Portuguese household, soccer was everywhere. It’s always on TV, it’s what everyone talks (and argues) about at every holiday, and it really is just a massive part of Portuguese life. I knew I wanted to be a soccer reporter from a very young age as I loved the sport but was never really great at playing it. I was, however, always VERY good at talking (my teachers will tell you too good), so I figured that was my “in” to the soccer world.

With my career path figured out, I knew I wanted to attend the best journalism school in the country. I sent in my one and only application, to Syracuse University, and I got in. It was a dream come true but I would learn that this was the first dream of many to come true.

My junior year of college, after studying abroad in Madrid for a year, I reached out to beIN SPORTS for an internship, and this was the next big dream to come true: I got it. It really felt like I was working in Disneyworld. I was surrounded by people I looked up to, working with the sport and leagues I loved. I unfortunately had to return to Syracuse University to finish my degrees and I remember being so worried I would never return to beIN SPORTS. But once I graduated, beIN SPORTS called me back for a full-time production assistant position and I moved to Miami by myself to start working.

The rest is really history! I worked my way up from a production assistant, working behind the scenes on shows until I was able to write and voice my own packages. That led to me filling in on digital shows, which led me to traveling to mega matches as a producer, which led me to eventually traveling to these matches as a reporter. May 2021 will be my 5th year anniversary at beIN SPORTS and I have traveled all over the world, from Madrid to Barcelona to Washington DC to Lima, Peru to cover some of the biggest matches on the planet. Many “pinch me” moments to say the least.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

One of the most interesting stories I was able to cover during the course of my career was the Copa Libertadores final for beIN SPORTS in 2019. Flamengo played River Plate in the final in Lima, Peru and for me it was particularly special because the Flamengo team was on a dream run under a Portuguese manager, Jorge Jesus. I had never experienced a stadium atmosphere like that, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will again. These fans bled their club colors in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. The screams, chants, and cheers throughout the match were deafening and the ending of the match, well that was just unbelievable.

I was positioned behind the goal in front of the Flamengo fan section and in the dying moments of the match, the Brazilian club was down 1–0. Gabigol scored the equalizer with minutes left to go, and just a minute later, scored the game winner. Flamengo won 2–1. It was as if time stopped between those two goals. Everything happened in slow motion. The Flamengo fans around me climbed the stadium walls and fences, grown adults were crying and on their knees praying. The other side of the stadium was in pure and utter shock; River Plate fans crying for the opposite reason. It was hands down the greatest story I have ever covered.

Can you share the funniest mistake that you made when you first started? Can you share the lesson you learned from it?

This one isn’t a funny mistake per se but more of a funny secret. I am 5’0’’ and if that is considered short in the regular world, in the TV world, I am minuscule. Along with my colored pant suits, notebook, iPhone, and microphone, one other thing comes along with me on every trip, every match, and every interview: a step stool. Yes, I’m serious!

One of the funniest “step stool” moments was when I interviewed legend Edwin Van der Sar and I literally stood on a chair next to him and was still shorter than him. I may be short in stature, but I have always said that I’ve never felt short a day in my life because my personality is so big.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently the host for beIN SPORTS’ nationally televised weekend recap show, The Soccer XTRA. This has been an exciting project for me as it’s the first time in my beIN SPORTS career that I get to work on the weekends, the days when all of the action happens! My amazing production team and I have revamped the show this season in an effort to fully cover all of the leagues beIN SPORTS has the rights to and I am very proud of the outcome.

I am also the host for the nationally televised show, Sports Burst, and its digital sister show of the same name. This show is where we really get to connect hands-on with our viewers. We have formed an amazing community of fans who come back each and every day to discuss the trending topics and it’s been a blast. This last year has thrown some curveballs at the broadcasting world, but my colleagues and I took this challenge in stride. Sports are used as an escape for many when life gets tough and we try and provide that enjoyable escape for all. Once the pandemic hit, our digital shows were already in place and our digital community was already there to sit back (from home) and enjoy!

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have met some very interesting people throughout my career and so this is a tough one but amongst the most interesting is my beIN SPORTS colleague, Ray Hudson. Ray is just an absolute bundle of energy and joy. He makes everyone around him smile and lights up every room he is in. Anytime we do a show together, he yells about how white my teeth are. ”THOSE PEARLY WHITES! MY GOODNESS!” he says, sometimes even on air! It’s impossible not to love him and his MAGISTERIAL sayings. He’s come such a long way in this industry, from a player to a coach to now one of the leading voices in American soccer coverage. It’s been an honor to work with him and to be able to hear about his journey.

Working with Christian Vieri is always also a surreal experience. He is such a legend in the game and to have him walking around the beIN SPORTS offices or as a guest on shows I have hosted has been awesome. I traveled to El Clásico with both Bobo (Vieri) and Ray so you can imagine that was quite the adventure. Few things will top having Bobo casually mention “Oh yeah, I was texting Zidane and…” This still makes my eyes widen!

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?

If my experiences have taught me anything, it’s to take a chance and don’t let others discourage you from your path. I wouldn’t be at beIN SPORTS today if I had listened to my fears, or other people’s doubts, about making it. I’m still in the early stages of my career, but I’ve become stronger and am reaching my goals because I have kept working hard to prove my doubters wrong. I encourage everyone to do the same. You will only go as far as you believe you can go; the key word being YOU.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

It can be a difficult profession because we’re always “on”. I can’t watch soccer the same way again. I’m always taking mental notes and see TV through a work lens. I often have to remind myself to take mental breaks whenever possible and turn my brain “off” by putting my phone out of reach or taking a walk around the block.

I also think social media has made our profession much more difficult. Now not only do you have to be working while you are on camera, but you are expected to be working 24/7 on Twitter and Instagram. This is where I really draw a line. I tweet when I am working or when I have a show or stories to promote but stepping away from the soccer Twitter world when I am off is the only way I stay sane.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have been invited to speak to classrooms of young children about having a dream and pursuing it to the fullest extent and this brings me so much joy. I want to be an example that you can do whatever you set your mind to and proof that no dream is too big.

I would love to one day have a mentoring program where kids or high school students pick a dream or interest they want to pursue and have my program help them pursue it. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have the support of my parents who pushed me to believe my dreams were within reach and I want to be that voice for others.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

I am driven in large part by my family. I see where I started, how far I have come, and how much further I want to go and making them proud is what drives me. I am also driven by my passion for journalism and my love for television. I have often thought about perhaps slightly switching career paths, maybe covering news one day if I decide to take a break from sports, and I know my underlying passion for connecting with people and telling great stories will lead always me in the right direction.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

The Alchemist has always been my favorite book. I feel like I live the same way Santiago lives. I follow my heart, pursue my dreams, and I learn each and every step of the way. One sentence that really sits with me is “the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” For someone like myself who suffers from anxiety, this is a very powerful message, one of many from Paulo Coelho that I take with me. It is a beautiful book and if you haven’t read it, please do.

Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish someone told me when I first started are:

  1. You can do it. I have encountered doubters telling me that I’m not good enough or that I don’t fit the mold of a sports broadcast journalist every step of the way. I’m here today to tell you to ignore the haters. If you believe you can do it, you can. End of story.
  2. Be patient. When I was a production assistant, I couldn’t wait to be the person on the other side of the camera. Like no, really, I COULD NOT WAIT! I was so impatient (okay yes, I still am) and my boss would always tell me “be patient Gabby” and “with time Gabby, it will come.” While this was all happening, it felt like time was moving so unbearably slowly, but looking back on it now, it moved at the perfect pace. I learned so many valuable things each and every step of the way that help me now as a reporter/host. I respect my production team more than most because I understand everything they do. I understand the innerworkings of television and have so much more respect for the industry thanks to my boss who forced me to be patient! THANK YOU (you know who you are).
  3. Be the most prepared person in the room. One of the best ways to get the job (and keep it) is to prove you are the best prepared and most knowledgeable person in every room you walk into. Preparation is key and it can’t be faked. Trust me, I’ve seen people try. Put in the work — always. Whether that means showing up to production meetings with a list of the day’s news or clever segment ideas to making sure you are fully prepped for a huge interview. Put in the work at every single level, every single day, and you’ll make it.
  4. Routine puts anxiety at bay. I suffer from anxiety, but over time I have learned how to transform it into an asset. Instead of letting it paralyze me, I let it drive me. Routines put my anxiety at ease. On massive matchdays, like an edition of El Clásico or a Copa Libertadores Final, I wake up, go for a walk outside to get some fresh air and remind myself there’s an entire world going on while my mind freaks out about the game. I read the latest news, then do my hair and make-up to music that pumps me up (like a player in a locker room would do), which is usually Beyonce because, let’s be real, nobody pumps a woman up like Beyonce. I head to the stadium prepared with the news of the day and feeling confident in my appearance — two keys to my routine that massively help my anxiety. When I feel anxious before I go on air, I take a deep breath and remind myself “Gab, you love this”.
  5. Bring a poncho. As a pitch side reporter, I have to be prepared for anything — and yes that includes rain, LOTS OF IT! It has rained on me too many times without warning during a match. Now I won’t travel without a poncho. I highly recommend it!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Something that has always caught my attention is watching working class people struggle with transportation to get to work. When I was growing up, I would drive down streets and notice people riding bikes in the rain, walking for miles, or waiting in the snow for the bus. I know how exhausting a work day can be and to think that some people have to go through hoops and leaps just to get home after hours dedicated to their underpaid jobs breaks my heart.

I have no idea how this would work or how I would do it, but I would love to create some type of program where there was free transportation for people to go to work; a personal Uber of sorts but free of cost and for work transportation only. I just want people to have the luxury of being able to get in your car and drive straight home after working on your feet for 8 hours. It would give these hardworking individuals more time to spend with their family, save them money, and maybe even boost their morale. I think it’s a little way to change their lives in a big way.

Another solution of course is if I win the Mega Millions jackpot, I buy everyone a car! Dream big!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The Special One: Jose Mourinho because he owes me a signed kit!

When I was in high school, Real Madrid came to the United States for a Summer preseason tour. At the time Jose Mourinho was their manager and there was a slew of Portuguese players on the team. My Portuguese community traveled from New Jersey to Philadelphia to see them play — and it was such a dream. It was the first time I saw Cristiano Ronaldo play live and I was so excited in the days leading up to the match I made a huge banner saying how proud we were of our Portuguese players (and manager).

The day of the game we hung the banner in front of our seats. Jose Mourinho saw the banner, and waved at us! I was elated, we got a wave! The players went into the tunnel and moments later, The Special One walked over to me with a kit in his hand. He threw it up to me in the stands as a thank you for the banner and walked away. It was about to be the best day of my young life, that is until a man standing next to me pushed me to the ground, snatched the kit, and ran off with it. I never saw it again.

Here we are in 2021, over a decade later and I am still waiting for the day I interview Jose Mourinho to tell him about that Summer day in Philadelphia.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Twitter at @gabamado or tune into my digital show on Facebook @beinsportsusa for the most up-to-date coverage on LaLiga, Ligue 1 and more international soccer leagues.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!h

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