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Sanya Richards-Ross: Everything Is Better In Glam & Gold

By Brandon Penny | Aug. 08, 2013, 10:40 a.m. (ET)

Track & field athlete and TV personality Sanya Richards-Ross and
her husband, New York Giants player Aaron Ross, attend the WE tv
screening for "Sanya's Glam & Gold" at The Gansevoort Park Ave on
July 15, 2013 in New York City.

Sanya Richards-Ross has already proven she can dominate on the track, by earning five Olympic medals (including individual 400-meter gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games) and eight world championship medals, but now she’s looking to spread her wings and venture into new arenas, starting with reality television.

Richards-Ross is currently starring in “Sanya’s Glam & Gold,” a six-episode series airing on WE tv Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET. The show chronicles the adventures and relationships of Richards-Ross and her family members — or “Team SRR” as they’re referred to — her husband and NFL cornerback Aaron Ross; father and manager, Archie; mother and agent, Sharon; sister and business partner, Shari; cousin and stylist/publicist, Yolanda.

TeamUSA.org spoke to Sanya Richards-Ross to find out more about the show, the future of her track career and the “Sanya Richards-Ross takeover.”

How was the idea for a reality TV show started?

It actually has been my idea for about three or four years. I watch a lot of reality TV and I always felt that my family was made for TV; I think we have some great characters in my family. It was something I wanted to do and I kinda shopped it around for a little bit and finally we met with WE tv and they decided they wanted to do it, so that was awesome.

Did your family have any hesitations about putting your lives out in the open?

I would say Ross, my husband, had the most resistance to the idea. I had about three or four years to work on it. Had it come right away, it might not have happened. He had the most reservations. He’s a very private person, and for both of us you definitely have some fear that couples don’t make it through reality TV, but we decided that at this point in our lives we’re all in a good place and it was the perfect timing for us.

Is any of the show scripted or planned out?

It’s all what happens in our lives. How the reality show works is we sit with the producers — mainly I did — and we talk about what’s going on in our lives, because of course you don’t say, ‘Oh, follow us around 24/7 and hope to catch something.’ I had my toe surgery coming up, so we scheduled it around my toe surgery. Life throws things at you, so when Ross was released from the Jaguars that was totally unexpected. Because they’re with us they capture those things. But we sit and talk first about what’s going on so we capture the things we think are the most entertaining. As opposed to seeing me get my nails done, it’s more exciting to see me talk to my doctor about my toe and the future of my career. It’s not scripted at all, but following the most exciting parts of your life.

And another part that’s really cool about reality TV that I enjoy is you really have to face the issue. Sometimes in real life, when you’re dealing with your family, something’s going on and you just kind of put it off because you don’t want to deal with it, but for reality TV you have to find a conclusion to that issue. I think it was a little bit of family therapy as well.

How different was having cameras follow you around from the media attention you and your husband are used to having?

I think it’s a big difference. As an athlete, most of the behind-the-scenes stuff isn’t filmed. We’re just used to the big game being filmed or that big moment being filled, but in reality TV it’s like every second matters. You don’t get a throwaway line. Everything you say is on camera. It was a little bit of getting used to the idea of them being here from 9-9; it was 12 hour days. But overall it was a fun experience and I loved it. It was a big success and I hope we get to do a bunch more seasons.

What do you hope your fans are learning about you through watching the show?

Honestly I don’t think people know much about my personality. You see me compete fiercely — most people think I’m a fierce competitor, which I am. Then they see me for a minute or two after, giving interviews. I think after the six episodes of the show you’ll see that I’m very driven, which most people know you win Olympic gold you’re very driven. But I also have a goofy side. I love my family and my husband to death. I think they’ll see a more dynamic picture of who I am than just the athlete, so I hope people like it.

Has anyone in your family been recognized since the show started?

Yes! It’s so funny. My sister said she had a fake celebrity moment. The day after the first show aired, someone came up to the salon and they say, ‘Are you Shari?’ and they screamed, ‘Oh my god, I watched you last night!’ It was so funny. She was like, ‘I don’t know how to handle that. I don’t think I can handle that.’ I do get recognized a lot in Austin, but now more people are saying they’ve watched the show and stuff. It’s really cool but I think my sister has the best story so far — someone coming to the salon just to see her and scream.

In the first two episodes, you say you aspire to be like Oprah. Why Oprah?

That’s a great question, Brandon. I’ve always looked up to the Oprahs. I love the Beyonces. I especially love when you know people’s stories. Recently I watched Katy Perry’s and it was so inspiring. I admire all these people and the reason I selected Oprah is because everyone knows who she is of course, and just knowing where she came from and where she was able to get from. I love her because not only did she succeed in daytime television, but she also did some acting and opened her own school in Africa. She has done so many great things on such a high level. There’s so much I have accomplished on the track, and now I want to do some acting; I want to be a mother; I want to do some hosting; I want to be a philanthropist; like the J. Lo’s of the world who sing, dance, act. I kind of want to be like them. That’s my goal, to not be one-dimensional. I never want to just be known as a track star; I want to be a blessing to the world. That’s the Sanya Richards-Ross takeover right there! [laughs]

Sanya Richards-Ross approaches the finish line on her way to
winning gold in the women's 4 x 400-meter relay at the London 2012
Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on Aug. 11, 2012 in London.

You finished sixth in the 400 meters at the 2013 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in June and failed to qualify for the world championship team. How disappointing was that?

It was tough. To be honest, after winning the Olympic gold medal, for about two or three months you lack motivation. You put so much of your heart and your body and everything into that. But I had my surgery in September. The toe injury I was suffering with, believe it or not, was so severe that my doctors actually told me to have the surgery before the Olympics because it was deteriorating so much, so I wanted to try to get that addressed as soon as possible so I could have four more years of successful running. So I had the surgery in September and the doctors predicted about two months for my recovery time. But I just never recovered from the surgery. My toe was about an 8 or 9 on the pain scale before surgery, and it was about a 15 to be able to run on it after. It was a challenge and the doctor kept holding me back, holding me back, and then I had to go if I wanted to try to make the team, so I pushed through a lot of the pain if I wanted to get better. Recently my doctor said I have a stress fracture now from all the trauma and from trying to run on it prematurely, so I may have to have a second surgery. I’m bummed. I go back and forth on should I have had the surgery or just kept pushing through it the way it was. But I believe everything happens for a reason, so I hope that I can come back for full strength and it’s definitely going to be ready for Rio, but hopefully much sooner.

What do you have left to accomplish in your sport?

It’s so funny because when I went to nationals and when I competed at (Prefontaine Classic), I was like, ‘Man, I still love to compete; I still love to run.’ I love what I do. I would love to defend my Olympic gold medal in the 400, and lower the American record from 48.70, so when I leave the sport I think it’ll be safe for a few more years. Of course I would love the target the world record. It is an audacious goal, but if I can get 100 percent healthy and I’m getting older, which means you get stronger. If I can break the world record, that would be the ultimate, but just getting the chance to go back to another Olympics before I retire would be my ultimate dream come true.

We asked our Twitter followers to submit questions for you and chose a few for you to answer:

@SaraSeryani asks: What keeps you motivated on and off the track?

I would say two things: Primarily my faith. I believe that God gave me my gift and every time I try to step out and practice and try to make it better and I compete to the best of my ability, I give him glory and I thank him for my gift. That’s the No. 1 source of my motivation. And secondarily my family. I have a wonderful support team in my family. When I am tired or doubtful, they always boost me up and support me in a way that allows me to be the best in the world.

@Ag_Hill asks: What is it like being married to another professional athlete?

It’s fun! I can’t imagine not being married to Aaron. When we first met, we didn’t know that any of this would come to fruition — that he would be an NFL star and I would be an Olympic champion, even though we had dreams of that. Our relationship was built long before and we’ve just been supporting each other the entire way. It’s a lot of fun to be married to someone who understands what it takes to be the best in the world and to be an elite athlete, so I love it.

@Ag_Hill asks: Do you plan to push your kids to be athletes?

We’ve talked about that, and I definitely won’t push my kids into sports. Neither one of us was pushed; Ross wasn’t pushed into sports and neither was I. My dad was an amazing soccer player for Jamaica and my mom was a great sprinter through high school, so I found sports on my own and my dad of course was the greatest dad in the world. He filmed all my races, came to all my practices, so he supported me, but I never felt like he made me do it. And I don’t want to do that to my kids either, so we both agreed we’ll let them find sports on their own. But, I’m gonna encourage them to run track — wahoo!

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Sanya Richards-Ross