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“I hope viewers will truly gain a greater understanding of the added pressures loaded on black female athletes”

Softball star A.J. Andrews hosts ESPN's Black History Month Special Unapologetic

Sports fans are used to the thrilling, acrobatic play of softball megastar A.J. Andrews but the former LSU All-American is performing on a different field as the host of the centerpiece of ESPN’s Black History Month programming.

Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete (Sunday, Feb. 24, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2) is a thought-provoking program highlighting the challenges, portrayal and achievements of black female athletes. Andrews interviews eight of her peers including former pro boxer Laila Ali as well as Olympic champions Michelle Carter, Simone Manuel and Allyson Felix.

Andrews, who now plays pro softball and was the first female Gold Glove recipient, spoke with Front Row:

Was this your first experience as a host/interviewer? What did you learn about how TV works?
Yes and no. I am receiving my Masters in Mass Communication at LSU and have experience hosting and interviewing for our college TV program, but yes, this would be my first professional experience . . . On the production side, I learned how it truly takes so many people behind the scenes to create something amazing. To have a lighting person, sound person that are all equally important as the camera man or the host was really cool to see. Each is a piece of the puzzle in production.

You spent time with some accomplished athletes – was there one you’d never met who really made an impression on you?
Hearing the stories of all these amazing women was extraordinary. I especially loved [ballerina] Misty Copeland’s story and the passion in her voice as she described what truly drives her to overcome the adversities in her life.

What do you hope viewers will take away from the show?
Perspective. I hope viewers will truly gain a greater understanding of the added pressures loaded on black female athletes and the unique circumstances that women of color have to overcome in order to be successful, on top of performing in our respective sports.

Sharon Matthews and Emily Archacki produced the video.

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