Behind The ScenesFirst TakeStudio Shows

First Take’s Molly Qerim reflects on fast-paced first year

Molly Qerim (Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)
Molly Qerim
(Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)
What is the one thing we should know about First Take?

“That First Take is authentic. These are genuine opinions, beliefs and takes. No one is forced to take a side, to manufacture good television and/or debate. This is what Max and Stephen A. wholeheartedly believe. When we come up with the debate topics in the morning, we never discuss them prior to air. We always say ‘Save it for 10 o’clock.’ So the first time I hear their argument and Stephen A. and Max hear each others’ is on TV.”

In July 2015, Molly Qerim returned to ESPN as interim host of First Take. In September 2015, she was named permanent host. First Take, the highest-rated studio show on ESPN2, airs weekdays from 10 a.m.–noon ET. Qerim is joined daily by Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman.

As she approaches her one-year anniversary, Qerim spoke with Front Row.

What were your expectations? How did reality differ?
I was a fan of First Take long before I joined the show. Prior to returning to ESPN, I was really happy living in L.A. and working at NFL Network. I knew this was the right career move, but there was a little trepidation as to whether it was the right move personally.

The bottom line is I made the right choice. I had no idea I’d love my job this much. I could not ask for a better team, the content, the show, all of it. I’ve been in this business for 10 years and this is by far my favorite role and I’m very grateful.

The most challenging part, that I didn’t anticipate, is cutting the guys off. We have to get in commercials and oftentimes they are having a heated debate. It’s difficult to interrupt riveting conversation, but I have to keep the show moving.

What is your favorite on air moment?
Oh gosh…That’s tough. We have a lot of fun every day. I work with two highly intelligent and gifted talent, who are both very funny and clever. I never knew I’d laugh so much at work. Anytime we work “Brick,” Stephen A.’s character on General Hospital, into the show, that’s a plus. Just last week, the guys were beyond hysterical during the Tim Tebow MLB workout and Ezekiel Elliot in Seattle discussions.

On a much more serious note, I am really proud of our show at the Southside YMCA in Chicago continuing the conversation on violence, athletes and responsibility.

How has your role changed since Kellerman joined?
The biggest difference is that Stephen A. has invited me to have more of a voice in the conversation and interviews. If there is something I want to speak on, he’s encouraged me to do that. I appreciate that and that he and Max want to see me grow.

Tell us about the behind-the-scenes crew.
We really have a special team dynamic on First Take, that all starts with our coordinating producer Antoine Lewis. We have a small staff and we are tight. We have open communication and we are all constantly talking. Most importantly, we all respect each other, have each others’ backs and have a lot of fun. I have a really strong relationship with Stephen A. and Max. They are gifted and good-hearted men. I’m lucky.

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