Name and occupation?
Kayla Grey, and I am an anchor and reporter for TSN. You can see me on SportsCentre, Canada’s leading highlight show, or on the sidelines covering the Toronto Raptors.
What does your day-to-day look like at work?
No two days are the same. I don’t go into a day thinking I know what the heck’s going on because it never, ever works out that way. Usually, this is how I break it down: In the morning, I fit in all of my prep for the day – I’m researching storylines for games and anything else that I need to know. Then I’m either at Raptors practice, a shootaround or trying to get things together for an interview. At nighttime, it’s showtime. That’s when – can I swear? – that’s when shit pops off. [Laughs] That is when shit gets lit. Games are starting, and all the prep that you think that you have…it’s like “Yeah, no.” It’s real time – you’re covering what’s happening that day in sports.
Does your company and/or industry have a dress code?
Not really. But for the longest time it felt like it. Everybody was so cookie cutter. You were getting the same typical news-anchor dresses in every single colour on every single anchor. For someone like me, who loves to play with pattern, colour and cuts, it was really discouraging. I didn’t think that I belonged. It was really hard to think that I would even be in this industry.
For women on-air, there are so many battles you fight with yourself before you even sit at the desk and do your actual job. Like, am I going to look silly in this? How do I look? A lot of it is about presentation. Of course, you want to look your best. But for me my biggest challenge was feeling like – because I’m probably one of the rare people in my workspace who is a woman of colour – I was playing dress-up to make other people feel comfortable with me being in their space.
Once I started saying “Forget it, I’m not doing my job because I’m not comfortable,” I started really reworking what I was wearing and just dressing for myself – and really looking like myself. That should always be the goal.
“My biggest challenge was feeling like I was playing dress-up to make other people feel comfortable with me being in their space.”
What are some of the specific challenges you face when it comes to getting dressed/shopping for clothing?
It’s not the easiest to find lighting for my skin tone, so it’s about finding colour that brings the best of that out. Like I said, I like to play a lot with pattern and prints, but sometimes they’re a big flop. And I’ll own it. I’ve had misses. Unfortunately, my misses are in front of an entire country. It’s a lot of trial and error. Also, I’m not the slimmest girl – I have curves. Dressing for my body can be a little bit challenging in that way. But once you find a groove, you’re golden.
It’s really hard for me to talk to young girls who want to get into the industry and hearing, all the time, that appearance is their biggest roadblock. They feel like they don’t look like any of the other anchors, that their vibe won’t be appreciated like all the other anchors’. That’s scary for me, because I think talking sports is the best thing. I’m super-passionate about it, and I know I’m not the only woman who’s passionate about it. So if that kind of surface-area issue is what’s holding other women back from jumping in on the conversation, that’s a huge problem.
So tell me about that groove you found. Specifically, what type of pieces are you wearing to work?
I wear a lot of Nike, Zara, H&M. My blazer [pictured] is from Aritzia. My pants are from Mendocino; everything [there] is always on sale. With the Raptors, I’m not doing it in a heel. You’ll never see me in heels. Some women will, and that’s great for them, but I’m not comfortable. I like to be in the mix. I’m a nosy reporter and that means talking to coach, talking to the players, finding and digging for my information. So for me to properly do my job, I need to be in comfortable pants. They’re going to look good, but I think comfort, overall, is important.
Another thing I’ve found that works is layering. If I do a shoot in the morning, all I need to do at nighttime is either throw on a new jacket or just switch out the shirt under my jacket. It’s about finding pieces that I could wear at work, but also not playing myself and knowing that I’ll definitely wear it to the bar when I’m not at work. I’ll call it what it is. I’m cheap. [Laughs] I’m not trying to buy a wardrobe just for work and not have that same piece do its thing at nighttime.
How do you shop for clothes?
I create mood boards of things I like, people that I like to follow. In Canada, we’re slowly getting there, but it’s hard for me to look on TV and see myself represented. I’m not really seeing people where I’m like, “Oh, I could wear that.” The girls on The Social, they’re totally my jam, and I can pull [outfit] ideas from there. In the sports world, we are a couple of steps behind wardrobe-wise. Then when I go shopping, it’s high-lows. I’m a Value Village girl as much as I’m a Zara girl or Nordstrom.
“I'm not trying to buy a wardrobe just for work and not have that same piece do its thing at nighttime.”
Do you ever feel uncomfortable repeating outfits on-air?
Hell, no. If my jacket is popping, that jacket will be worn! I don’t mind repeating anything. First of all, when we’re talking about our contribution to the environment, it doesn’t make sense to wear something and then throw it out. If I have over-worn something or I just don’t like it anymore, I donate it.
You’re at a successful point in your career. For people just starting out, how can they embrace their personal style?
I don’t like to be the story. I’m a journalist, first and foremost. I’m there to be the instrument for an athlete’s story, for a game’s story. So you toe the line a little bit when you’re also someone who loves to play with your fashion. It’s incredibly important for people starting out to not be the story. I’m not saying tone it down; never tone down who you are. As much as it can feel like it’s your runway, always remember: You’re telling the story; you’re not the story.
At the end of the day, this [job] is fun. But at the same time, I want people to hear my voice and listen to what I’m saying. Did you get the story of the day? Did I tell you something that you didn’t know? Did I expand your horizons on something you thought you knew? That’s the goal.