Recently, we sat down with Brodie Lawson to get some insight into her position as host of the CFL, what it took to get there, as well as her tips and tricks to keeping fit while on the road.
As host of the CFL, you have a job that both men and women dream of having! Tell us about our role.
As the host of the CFL I cover the league for all of our digital properties specifically CFL.ca and all of our social channels! My main duty during the season is to host our live show CFL This Week with Davis Sanchez and Max Rosenberg which was live on Twitter @CFL every Wednesday this season. CFL This Week was the first Canadian sports property to enter a live deal with Twitter so we had a chance to try some unconventional and fun content. We will be filming our show Thursday-Sunday of Grey Cup Week starting November 22nd so tune in! In addition to my CFL This Week duties I also get to travel a ton for my job to interview players and coaches for various segments. I’ve also had the opportunity to interview Grey Cup performers like Shania Twain (yes, I freaked out) Alessia Cara (she is amazing and kind), Fallout Boy and OneRepublic. It really is the dream job and this season has been especially fun!
How did you find & work your way into this position?
I graduated from The University of Western Ontario with an Honours Degree in Media Information and Technoculture and in my senior year I applied for an internship with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The internship was to be the host of Ticats TV which meant doing daily stories on the team as well as doing in stadium hosting. I ended up getting the job and it was the biggest step forward in my career. I learned how to edit, shoot and my love of the CFL game really flourished. During that season CFL HQ reached out and asked if I would join them for the 2013 in Grey Cup in Regina as their host and I (of course) said yes. This was my introduction to the incredible team and the CFL who would hire me as an editor in 2015 and then evolve my role to host in 2016. I also worked for a short time at CBC Sports and volunteered a ton at university for local TV stations. Those reps were critical at developing my confidence and on-camera skills.
“Work your butt off, be kind always, be yourself and don’t worry so much.”
You work in a male dominant field, what qualities and skills did you need to develop that would differ in a female driven workplace?
I am super lucky to work at CFL HQ where both of my bosses are female and there are many strong women who work with us. I think our office is honestly about 50/50 split so that has never really been a concern for me. When we get to the football field or the media room that’s where being outnumbered becomes a little more apparent. I don’t know if these skills developed because of working in a sometimes male dominant field or whether women in any industry feel this way but I just always, always need to know my stuff and need to be authentic with those I work with. As soon as you try to fake your understanding of something in my role it comes across as dishonest and insecure. I have no qualms about asking a player, ex-player, or coach “hey I don’t understand that coverage – could you explain that to me?” etc. I think vulnerability is important in my job and though I need to know my stuff and I work hard to be as prepared as possible, I think it’s also critical to ask questions and not be shy about learning. I think genuine curiosity, vulnerability, knowing when to speak up and stand up for myself are all skills I’ve developed over the last 5 years of working in football.
What's been the coolest experience you've had to date working with the CFL?
I swear I am not trying to dodge the question it’s just that I can’t pick one. I LOVE the CFL and so coolest experiences for me happen about every three months. Some of my highlights have been travelling overseas this past Spring to visit Canadian Troops in Ukraine and Marsielle, France. I got to travel with a group of CFL players and bring the Grey Cup to tour their base/ship and meet members of our Navy and Armed Forces. It changed my whole perspective on our troops and the very real and difficult sacrifices they make for us everyday, it was an experience I will never forget. Again this season I got to interview my childhood hero Shania Twain. I have never been too nervous for celebrity interviews but with Shania I was totally losing it. I think I managed to play the interview pretty cool but I just couldn’t believe it was happening – I absolutely LOVE her and can’t wait to watch her perform on Sunday! Another highlight was surprising a huge CFL fan Devin who had progeria with the Grey Cup. Devin was TOTALLY surprised, he was shaking with delight when he answered the door and tears began to fall down his face. He wouldn’t let go of the Cup – it was the perfect surprise. Devin passed away this past winter and he was such a special and beautiful person. I felt beyond lucky to be a small part of that surprise. Being sideline at Grey Cups, getting to call a USports player after he’s been drafted and do his first interview as a pro, watching CFL players wives and children storm onto the field and embrace their husband/father after a big win – these are precious and priceless moments. Moments as incredible and life changing as these happen all the time in my job, I’m so deeply grateful and I have never taken it for granted.
“I’ve learned that the best way to work out while on the road is to a) take initiative and b) commit to making it happen.”
You're on the road a lot, how do you stay fit when travelling? Do you have your go-to studios in each city you visit?
I’ve learned that the best way to work out while on the road is to a) take initiative and b) commit to making it happen. For me taking initiative usually means researching gyms in the city I am travelling to and (usually) going by myself. This has been one of the best and most rewarding, albeit a bit nerve wracking, experiences I’ve had while travelling this season! In Regina I met up with a fan from Twitter and we went to a pilates class, a follower on Instagram sent me to SpinCo in Ottawa – it was AMAZING! I also go to Pure Yoga in Ottawa which has been awesome for stress and frankly perfect for warming up after being on the sidelines in the cold! I rely a lot on social media and am constantly asking for followers recommendations (@BrodieLawson if you have any!) and am still building my go-to gym list by city, it’s been seriously fun! Committing to making it happen has meant scheduling time in and just…making it happen. I find when I schedule a class I am almost 100% likely to go, but if I say to myself, “I’ll run on the treadmill later” that’s….less likely. I need the accountability of classes, it’s what works best for me at home and as I’ve learned on the road as well. Going to new gyms also helps give you a vibe of the city and makes you feel a little less like you’re on a work trip – it’ a really good break.
Do you have any travel meals or snacks you rely on to keep your body feeling healthy and energized?
I rely on eating as clean as possible, for me that means vegan and vegetarian options whenever possible and lots and lots of salad. I’m not vegan/vegetarian but I know that inevitably I am going to end up at a pub where I’ll have a burger or chicken wings or be rushing to a flight and grab a muffin so I always choose the healthy option when it’s available, that’s my rule. In the same way I’ve been scouting out gyms this season I also research healthy restaurants in the CFL cities I visit. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize, but every city I travel to has these amazing healthy options – I used to just go whoever was close by but I’ve loved looking up new places to try, again it’s made work travel more fun and I’ve felt way healthier and energized on the road than I ever have.
You're such an inspirational woman, if you could've given 13 year old Brodie one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would simply tell her it was all going to work out. Work your butt off, be kind always, be yourself and don’t worry so much. And if I’m being honest, these are words I try to live by today.
Leah of Oil & Grain for HEMM