Q&A with Tracee Jay

The Sacramento Kings Social Producer discusses her career path, mentors and advocacy for black women in the sports & entertainment industry in an interview conducted by Kings Director of Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion Kyle Ellington.

KE: What do you enjoy most about your job covering content for the Team?

TM: What I enjoy most about my job is the people I work with. Everyone is super creative and fun to work with. It’s such a positive work environment where we can all share content ideas. A close second is covering games – I love the atmosphere of Golden 1 Center!

KE: Tell me about your career path?

TM: My career path is a little different than the average person working in sports. I went to the University of Maryland and in college, I received my degree in Government and Politics. I didn’t get serious about getting internships until my Junior year, and that’s because a friend of mine made me feel bad for not having any!

From that moment, until I graduated, I had an internship every semester. At the time, I wanted to pursue a career in television, so I interned at CBS, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, iHeartMedia and a Production company. That led me to my job at Showtime in New York, where I worked for 2 years before coming to the Kings.

When I accepted the job with the Kings I was initially a Production Manager. My plan was to stay here for 1 year to get more experience in production, and then move to L.A. or back to New York to pursue television development. Things didn’t quite go that way. I was fortunate to be able to move to the Digital department where I have grown tremendously. It has now been two years, and I couldn’t be happier here!

KE: Where do you want to be in your career in 5 years?

TM: To be completely honest, I’m not sure exactly where I want my career to be. Maybe a manager or a director by that time.

KE: What advice would you give to people who are pursuing their career dreams?

TM: I would say work hard and network. It’s not the fanciest advice, but it rings true for me. LinkedIn is very important. The reason why I got my job at Showtime and at the Kings is because someone reached out to me first on LinkedIn.

Even while pursuing jobs, I would send messages to people on LinkedIn asking for informational interviews, asking people out for coffee to talk about their career paths – that way if a job opportunity came up, they would think of me. It has got my foot in the door for numerous interviews and if you keep that connection, they can then help you in the future as well.

I’ve learned that most people do want to help others get a foot in the door. You may hear a lot of “no’s” but all you need is one “yes!”

KE: How would you describe your role with the Sacramento Kings?

TM: Kyle Ramos, who works in the Digital department, said I am the “Swiss Army Knife” of the department, and that’s probably true. I have a hand in a lot of different places within our department.

While I do a lot of different things, the majority of my time is spent with the Sacramento and Stockton Kings. I help with home and away Kings games, whether that’s social or locker room interviews, road trips, blogs for Kings.com and more.

I also handle a majority of the Stockton content that gets produced and output on the channel. That also includes games, fun videos, engagement images and also writing for StocktonKings.com.

KE: Who would you say have been your biggest role models?

TM: My biggest role models have been Gabrielle Simpson, Marica Chacona and my mother.

Gabrielle Simpson is an amazing woman, who I met while doing my internship at CBS in New York. I was so amazed by her. She was a black woman who was the manager at a major broadcasting studio. After my time at CBS, I kept in touch with her as she advanced in her career and she continued to help me advance in mine.

Marica was my previous boss at Showtime. She could do it all, and she provided constant encouragement, listened, and helped me reach goals that I never thought I could achieve. I was thankful to have her as a boss.

My mom constantly supports me in anything I want to do. She always believes in me and I definitely would not be where I am without her.

KE: What advice would you give to any fellow African American Women who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

TM: The advice I would give is: work hard and know your worth. There definitely will be people that think you can’t do something because of your color or gender, but know not to believe them.

Reach out to other women of color where you can get support from. I have that with my sorority sisters (Alpha Kappa Alpha), my friend group and my mentors. You are not alone in this industry and if you work hard and network you can truly do anything.

Just always remember to know your worth.

KE: What’s your favorite memory from your tenure with the Kings?

TM: My favorite memory with the Kings is going to India with the team. It was such an eye-opening experience seeing another country and culture. The people and the kids were all so amazing and I did things that I never could have imagined being able to do at a job. I am fortunate to be able to say that I made history with the NBA and the Sacramento Kings.

KE: What’s one book, movie, show, play or podcast you’d recommend, and why?

TM: I would recommend “The Read” with Kid Fury and Crissle. It’s a general podcast about gossip stories of the week, Listener Letters, and then they “Read” someone or something at the end. I like it because it’s funny, inclusive, they’ve started a mental health segment and they are very relatable to me. Be warned, it’s NSFW!

KE: What’s something you practice outside of work that enriches your life, and why?

TM: It’s not practice really, but I try my best to keep up with television. At my previous job that’s what I lived and breathed, and while I can’t keep up like I used to, I love TV and still try and watch the most I can. Even with shows I don’t watch, I still read TV reviews on AVClub or Vanity Fair, see what’s happening on Deadline just to still feel a part of it.

KE: When you look back at the end of your career, how will you measure success?

TM: I more measure success if I’m happy and healthy. I don’t know where my career will lead, but I don’t like looking too far ahead. Just living my best life day-by-day.

KE: Why did you join the Diversity & Inclusion Council?

TM: I joined this council because diversity and inclusion is an important issue to me. Being an African American woman, there’s truly not a lot of people in this industry or my previous one that looked like me.

I would love to make it a priority to have someone advocating for people of color in this industry and getting more of those people in the door and giving them a chance.

I also feel this is a great chance for people to learn about my culture and for me to learn from theirs. It helps the team get a different point of view – one they may have never considered.

Diversity and Inclusion are very important to a successful workplace and I can only hope to have a hand in that to create a fun, inclusive work environment!