We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Stark-Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chelsea, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My work life balance has transformed significantly from my early 20’s to where I am now newly in my 30’s, and rightfully so. I feel as someone that came up in the sports television industry – you learn quickly how desirable your job is. As a women in this industry you learn quickly how little opportunities are available to you. So the grind and the hustle are real.

As a freelancer I worked several jobs and not gonna lie, I still had my fun. But I didn’t realize at the time how essential “me” time was. And how important taking mental breaks could be. Now as I’m seasoned in my career, I’ve struck that balance.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career in sports started in 2011 when I was in college and started my first internship with KCAL Sports. I’d do things like log basketball games, record melt tapes, but my favorite was helping the cameramen and reporters out in the field. Growing up in Los Angeles and having the opportunity to be on the court pre-game at Lakers games or in the dugout at Dodgers games was amazing. I thought I had it made.

My career propelled and since that internship I’ve worked for FOX Sports, Tennis Channel, various production companies, and most consistently the NFL Network. There I was a Story Producer and won an Emmy in 2019 – but my role mostly leaned towards Producer. I worked developing/producing long and short form Original Content. From 3 minutes features to hour long specials. I had the opportunity to go to Pro Bowls, meet many of my favorite players and attend the Super Bowl in Miami. It was in many ways a dream job.

The last couple years with the NFL I worked specifically on the Inspire Change initiative which is the leagues social justice program. Creating content and telling important stories around the league and outside in black communities was so rewarding to me. It not only allowed me to grow as a storyteller, but as a black woman as well. However, the slow climb and lack of upward mobility within the company led me to look elsewhere for work.

I’ve recently started working at Spotify for the Ringer Podcast Network. Which is fun! It allows me to lean into sports but also many of my other interest like pop culture, food and reality tv.

I’m so happy and blessed to be where I am today but the road was not easy. It had it’s ups and downs and moments where I flat out wanted to quit or had to take jobs I absolutely hated. But what got me by my family and close friends. But also honestly my determination not to be a failure. I always wanted to make my grandparents and brother proud, and prove all the people that doubted me wrong. That may not be the healthiest form of motivation – but for me it worked.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’d probably leave the city to be honest. Maybe spend a day in LA – have a nice brunch in West Hollywood and then dinner at Barrique in Venice or DAMA in DTLA. And then for the rest of the week we’d either go up the coast to Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Solvang or head down to San Diego/Carlsbad/Coronado. Those areas are much more my speed when it comes to having a good time. Good wine, slower pace, beautiful scenery.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a number of people that I can think of that deserve a shoutout in my journey. From my family and mentor to my s/o, so many people have motivated me and supported me in my professional career. But who I’d really like to highlight are the women in the sports industry that have paved the way, and the women in my sports circle that have been a safe haven, sound board, emotional support, and simply a friend.

Being a woman in sports isn’t easy. It feels like everyday one of my favorite female sports personalities are trending on Twitter because of something sexist some dude that thinks he knows everything has said. So having a group of women that surround you in this industry is essential. Two of my closest friends Jen Chiogioji and India Wright have been that constant for me. These women are inspiring, intelligent, loving, go-getters, with such a zest for life and sports. Their friendship has really meant so much to me personally and professionally.

Website: chelseastarkjones.com

Instagram: @c_sjones

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cstarkjones/

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