Tell us a little bit about your career background and how you got to your present role:
After reading English at Manchester University I started out in TV as an unpaid runner -looking after guests, printing off scripts, getting breakfast orders for presenters (wrong most of the time!). I worked my way up from the planning desk to producer, then reporter and now presenter. I started out at Sky Sports News HQ moved to ITV as a regional reporter and then returned to the Sky family as a presenter and it’s where I’ve been ever since. I really appreciate where I am now, having worked at every level – and I’m always nice to the runners, they could be my boss one day!
Talk us through a typical day for you at Sky HQ:
A typical day on SNF involves coming in to the studios at 1pm, reading the backpages and looking through the stats sheets for the day’s games. I head in to hair and make up at around 2pm so I’m ready to watch the 3 o’clock kick offs in the gallery with the SNF team. And yes, I watch all of them at once, multi screen, multi tasking! I’m then on air with David Jones and Jamie Redknapp from 5pm and at 8pm and 10pm I present the day’s Premier League highlights right through until 11:30pm.
Has there been a particular role model or mentor who has helped you in your career?
There have been a number of people – Andy Cairns, the big boss at SSNHQ who gave me my first job; Gary Newbon, at ITV who put me on screen for the first time, and then Barney Francis, the MD of Sky Sports who has given me fantastic opportunities to front a number of shows including SNF. I am lucky enough to have female role models in the industry who are my peers, colleagues and, most of important of all, wonderful friends – fellow sports presenters Natalie Pinkham, Georgie Thompson, Kirsty Gallacher and Di Dougherty. All of them have worked their way up like me and are at the top of their game. I’m often asked if fellow women in TV are competitive; far from it: these girls are full of encouragement, advice, and always have your back.
As a sports and news presenter, have you faced challenges working in a male-dominated environment, and how have you overcome them?
As a sports presenter the first question I often get asked by men AND women is “do you actually like football/cricket/insert sport here” – thankfully that is happening less and less now. Women fronting sport on TV is now commonplace but sadly so are stereotypes – I think I’ll always come across that question but I guess it’s up to me and other women in sport to educate those people. They’ll soon be sorry they asked! As a news presenter on Sky News – Kay Burley is the role model – she has been fronting Sky News for over 25 years – a remarkable achievement for a male or female anchor.
You have an established presence on Twitter: do you have any tips for those new to the site?
Find what interests you and try to tweet about it from a different angle. I’ll often tweet about a story and try to ask a question with it to encourage response. Pictures are always engaging and again, try to make it a little different. Humour always works too. I try to reply to people when I can – if someone takes time out of their day to tweet you, it’s good to tweet back. I can’t answer them all but I do read them. When choosing who to follow, pick the feed of someone you like and look at who they follow – it’s a bit like being a Magpie; well, it is Twitter!
You have an ever-changing schedule; how do you achieve a work-life balance?
I must admit I do burn the candle at both ends – when you work Saturday nights, early mornings and afternoons on a varying schedule you have to make time for fun. Work hard, Play hard. I’ll always make time for family, friends and going out. The secret is napping. I am the master of napping – I’ll often sleep for a few hours in the afternoon so I can go out in the evening and then still get up at 4am for Sunrise on Sky News.
Working in television; how have you adapted your dress sense to make a statement on screen?
It is a case of learning as you go along. Back in my days of regional TV I did my own hair and make up which often ended in some interesting looks onscreen! Clothes wise I’ve learnt that less is more and by that I mean fuss free, not skimpy outfits. Nothing should be too distracting for the viewer, so no big chandelier earrings or elaborate necklaces. The same with clothes: block colours and clean structured lines work well on dresses, trousers and jackets. Although I must admit I do like a statement shoe, it’s a shame they are often hidden behind a desk. I like to think I look smart and professional while still looking feminine and fashionable.
What is your favourite piece from The Fold collection?
I absolutely adore The Kensington dress in White Tweed – I also have the Camelot dress in the same fabric – it looks wonderful onscreen and so versatile I’ve worn it to corporate functions, dinners and even Cheltenham Races!
Pictures from Amelia Allen Photography