Behind The Scenes

Eventually, all sideline reporters – except ESPN’s Allison Williams – grow up

ESPN's Allison Williams (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
ESPN’s Allison Williams
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Even though I’m older, she can be Allison Williams. Or we could arm wrestle for the right to be ‘The Real Allison Williams.’
ESPN sideline reporter Allison Williams talking about actress
Allison Williams

It’s not often when you can predict your own name will be trending on Twitter. ESPN sideline reporter Allison Williams is likely to be in such a situation this evening. It won’t be because of her work on the air and will more likely be for her namesake’s work in the air.

NBC tonight presents “Peter Pan Live” starring Allison Williams the actress (and daughter of news anchor, Brian Williams). If last year’s “Sound of Music Live” is any indication, social media will be abuzz with all sorts of Allison Williams praise, snark and everything in between.

Front Row caught up with ESPN’s Allison Williams – or as she facetiously calls herself, “TRAW, The Real Allison Williams” – to find out how she plans on dealing with sharing the Twitter marquee.

“Even though I’m older, she can be Allison Williams,” says the ESPN AW. “Or we could arm wrestle for the right to be ‘The Real Allison Williams’.”

Williams next appears on Friday’s coverage of the 2014 Marathon MAC Football Championship featuring Northern Illinois versus Bowling Green (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) from her hometown of Detroit. She is also part of ESPN’s Big Mondays, working ACC games.

While reporting from various sports venues, ESPN's Allison Williams will be using conventional means of flying to assignments.  (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
While reporting from various sports venues, ESPN’s Allison Williams will be using conventional means of flying to assignments. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

When did you first hear of TOAW (The Other Allison Williams)?
With a last name as common as Williams, no matter what your first name, it’s very likely you aren’t the only one with that name. The first time I remember being aware there was another Allison Williams, and it was that Allison Williams, was when I worked the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament for ESPNU in 2011. When I showed up to host and report for four days in Hartford, no one had a clue where ESPNU had plucked me from so naturally, they turned to Google.

After about a day on set I heard that guys in the tape room all thought I was Brian Williams’ daughter. Someone finally asked me and I had to inform them my dad is Dale and a former police officer, not a NBC network figurehead. That was really the last I heard of it until HBO’s “Girls” [in which the other Williams stars]. And since then it’s been more frequent.

Do you ever get mixed up with TOAW? Calls? Emails? Twitter?
Recently I went on a trip to Napa [Calif.]. A friend of a friend was showing us around and he made a comment about knowing who my dad is. I had to politely correct him that unless he was arrested between 1967 and 1996 in Ann Arbor, Mich. he probably did not in fact know who my dad is.

And on Twitter, yes! Only natural since this is where the most intelligent, aware and articulate of our society resides! I don’t think she has an account, so when people see mine (even though in my bio it says I work for ESPN) they see that I have a few followers, work in TV and assume it’s TOAW.

They will tweet at me about shoes she wore – I wish I owned these soles! – or other random things; especially since “Peter Pan” was announced.

I think the people who it bothers the most is my family! Every time they hear her/my name on TV, they have this natural reaction to get excited and then it’s like. . . ‘Oh yeah, not our Allison’.

Unlike TOAW, I cannot sing. I fear the day one of my karaoke performances makes the web. Lisa Loeb never sounded so bad!
ESPN sideline reporter Allison Williams

Have you ever seen “Peter Pan?”
I am American, so yes, I’ve seen Peter Pan! I loved all Disney movies growing up and “Peter Pan” was one of the all-time classics. As a kid, there is no greater fantasy then being able to fly to some magical land. I haven’t seen the movie in forever but just thinking about it takes me back.

Do you have any theatrical/acting aspirations of your own?
I actually did act growing up. I really loved the stage. I realized by my sophomore year that as much as I loved sports, I wasn’t very good at them, so I did theatre. In high school, I was in several plays and did competitive drama called “One Act.”

Seems I was always cast to play old people though. However, no musicals! Unlike TOAW, I cannot sing. I fear the day one of my karaoke performances makes the web. Lisa Loeb never sounded so bad!

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