This isn’t a story you’d expect to emerge from the environs of Sand Dune Forest.
In the mid-1990s, a feral-eyed dark-haired girl could be found running through the trees surrounding Sand Dune Park in north Manhattan Beach. Her family, the Currys, lived on the street just above the park. Alex Curry was the oldest of four sisters, and one of the ringleaders of the 32 kids who lived on the street. She’d dubbed the patch of trees Sand Dune Forest, and it was perfectly natural that this was her domain – her mother, Peggy, and father, Tim, raised their daughters to appreciate nature and the joy of playing outdoors.
“I was Pocahontas like every other day in the forest,” Curry recalled. “It was ideal.”
They were a natural-living family. Tim Curry, in fact, founded a natural energy drinks company, and Peggy founded Growing Great, a program which has since become a national model that teaches school children gardening and nutrition from a young age.
“I appreciate it now, but growing up it was hard, because nobody else ate organic – seriously, who packs fruit with carrots to take to school?” Curry said. “I am so thankful for it now, but it was an interesting journey, the health nut route.”
The Curry family wasn’t big on television. They strictly controlled what, how much, and when the kids could watch TV. But young Alex always found herself particularly fascinated by certain TV shows.
“We watched Rug Rats and Doug and then I would sneak down and hide behind a chair and watch Seinfeld,” she said. “When I got a little older and had TV privileges, I’d watch MTV…Then I started watching Brooke Burke ‘Wild on E!’ and I just loved it. And that is when I was like, ‘Okay, I want to be a host.’”
At family gatherings – and the Currys have a large extended family – she became the one who would grab the video camera and start peppering everyone with questions. In fact, with or without the camera, she was eternally curious – most people, upon meeting Alex, found themselves suddenly being interviewed by a prenaturally talented pipsqueak reporter. It just came naturally to her.
“From the first paper in preschool and kindergarten, I would draw a picture of what I wanted to be…” she recalled. “It’s silly, but I wanted to be an actress, a dancer, a reporter – anything that was on TV, I wanted to be it.”
Last Friday, a culmination of Curry’s childhood dreams occurred when, at the age of only 24, she debuted as the host of Angels Weekly on Fox Sports West. The show will air every Friday night at 10:30 p.m. and go behind the scenes with Angels players. As pre-season footage revealed, Curry brings something new to television sports journalism – she isn’t just a pretty face, but a serious journalist with an uncanny ability to make her subjects relax and be themselves on camera. At Angels photo day, she had players cracking up despite their very evident distaste for an early morning wake-up call that didn’t even involve playing. She even managed to make a stone-faced early morning grump, pitcher Jared Weaver, produce perhaps the most unlikely smile of Spring Training.
“He cracked at the end,” she said. “They all do. They all want to have fun. It’s a job, but you’ve got to love what you do – then you are not working. You are not working a day of your life if you love what you do. I am so excited.”
Her ambition is to change the way sports journalism is done by bringing more warmth and genuinely human stories to bear in her reportage. Her manager, Peter Gallagher – who usually only works with actors, such as Brad Pitt and Zach Galifianakis – recognized unusual qualities in Curry when he took her on as client.
“She is warm, she is bubbly, she is just herself – and it comes across on camera, her personality,” Gallagher said. “She is totally suited for it and fit for it, besides the fact that she is drop dead gorgeous.”
Gallagher also noted that because of her fairly stunning beauty, it’s easy to overlook that Curry has a certain tomboy quality that makes it easy for her to relate to professional athletes. “Until you start talking with her and you realize, ‘Wait, this is a woman who may be able to beat me in an arm-wrestling match,’” he said, laughing.
This very quality – a buoyant can-do positivity coupled with an iron will – is something that has already characterized the startlingly rapid upward trajectory of Curry’s short and blossoming career. And this, too, is something she has in common with the elite athletes who will be her subject matter this year.
“The ones that make it are the ones that spend hours every single day working towards their craft, getting up when they fall, not taking no for an answer, taking that risk – and that is what it is, you are going to have to take that risk, and it’s scary,” Curry said. “I’m following my dreams and I don’t know if it’s going to work out, I don’t know what the future holds for me if I don’t end up where I want to be, but I love what I do so much I am willing to take that risk and do whatever it takes to get there. I am so appreciative and grateful for the help I get along the way, and the support, but in the end this is what I want to do and where I want to be. And I’m going to do it.”
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Dream and Hustle
Curry’s resolve has been apparent since her days at Mira Costa High School, where she was a standout athlete – particularly as a soccer player – who also starred in musical theater. Curry subsequently attended San Diego State University, as a Journalism and Media Studies major, where she was also part of national championship soccer team. It was while at SDSU that the exact nature of her dream – and the hustle that would be required to achieve it – became clearer to her.
As a sophomore, she took an internship with Joe Lewis Productions, a Manhattan Beach based entertainment production company. She worked as an all-purpose production assistant and fell in love with the work behind the camera – everything from logistics to food to lighting – and worked her subsequent spring breaks and summers with Lewis.
“He was the best first boss I could have had. I learned everything the business had to offer,” Curry said. “I even loved being a production assistant. I was on site, I was learning…How to be prepared, how to be on point – you could sit for five hours, a lot of show business is sitting – but if you are there the 15 minutes that they need you that day and you are on point, you are doing your job.”
She’d sometimes leave a test at school, drive two hours to a shoot, and then drive the two hours back that night. Her hustle was noticed. She was hired as an on-camera personality for Direct TV’s championship gaming series while still interning with Lewis. During her junior year, she was required to write a paper outlining what she wanted to do with her life and how she proposed doing it. It was a moment of clarity.
“That was the first time I had to think about it,” she said. “I was like, ‘I want to be a host.’ I said it out loud: I want to be a host.”
Her longtime boyfriend Jeff Nisen – who she grew up with – looked at her and smiled. “Finally,” he said. They wrote a script, went out to the beach, and shot a segment about his band, Sand Section.
“I wrote some segments out on a big piece of paper, he held it in his mouth while holding the video camera, and we just started practicing,” she said. “We did like 30 takes right there on Mission Bay.”
At the beginning of her senior year, she had two goals: to host for E! and Fuel TV. She applied as an intern with both, started with Fuel TV that fall – again, driving long hours back and forth from school to Los Angeles. One day, she was asked to research a photographer, Mike Blabac, who’d photographed skateboarding on the Great Wall of China for a segment that would be filmed that night. She dug into the research and was brought along that night as an assistant. The host interviewed Blabac but didn’t ask all the questions Curry had prepared. After the shoot, her natural curiosity led her to ask Blabac the rest of the questions. The producer saw her and started filming her. Before she knew it, she was doing her first “stand up” segment outside the event.
“I was on cloud nine after that,” she recalled.
She was eventually hired as a fill-in host for Fuel TV’s Download show. Of course, she still had unfinished business in her mind – she hadn’t achieved her E! goal. So shortly after graduating, she attended Marki Costello’s hosting academy, where she attracted an E! executive’s attention at a group audition. The audition took place on a Friday; by the following Tuesday, she’d been offered a hosting gig, starting the next day, on the network – the youngest host in the history of the network.
“People there were like, ‘Where do you and your husband live?’ I’m like, ‘I just graduated college. I’m 23-years-old and living with my parents,” she said. “That was really big. It gave my reel a really big kick start.”
In the end, though – like so much of her life – it all came back to her own neighborhood. She came back to North Manhattan Beach and took a job at Baja Sharkeez as a bartender, keeping herself available for auditions and gigs. Sometimes she wouldn’t get out of the bar til 6 a.m. and would only have time for an hour’s nap before she was off to a shoot.
It was at Sharkeez that she met Gallagher, who is also a North Manhattan resident. He monitored her progress and eventually decided she was ready to meet with one of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood. At her first audition – with the giant, prestigious agency ICM – Curry immediately drew fervid interest.
“It was like a scene out of Entourage,” she recalled. “It was like, ‘Alright, Alex, be ready to sell yourself’…Then they started pitching to me. ‘We see you as a sports girl who can do entertainment…’ I thought, oh my gosh, they are nailing it – I don’t have to sell anything. They are selling themselves to me. Everything just felt so right.”
She was still working at Sharkeez one day last April when she struck up a conversation – about a camera – with a guy at the bar. It turned out he was a producer with Fox Sports West. Never timid, she told him she had an idea for a show, one about the real lives of Major League Soccer stars. He was immediately intrigued, and told her to write a 30 page script. She’d never written a 30 page script in her life, but of course within weeks had produced one – this is also a woman who built her own website – and within months had the show greenlighted. Fox also hired her as a host at the World University Games filmed in China. Her days as a bartender were over.
And then, in January, she was asked to take over as host of Angels Weekly.
“It was like, are you kidding me? It’s a dream job,” she said. “It came from just taking any opportunity I could, which is the whole story of my career – not waiting around, but just jumping on any opportunity I could get.”
Gallagher believes this is just the beginning of a career that has few limits. Hers, he said, is an utterly natural star quality, and unlike so many people attracted to show business, her drive does not emanate from a lack of esteem or need for attention – she genuinely just loves to get to know people and tell their stories. His only caution for her is to have patience.
“She was just saying, ‘Well, I’ve been at ICM over a year, shouldn’t things be happening more rapidly?’” Gallagher said. “Are you kidding? You are 24 and about to become the face of the Los Angeles Angels!”
And that opportunity is certainly not lost on Curry. She had trouble sleeping the night she flew to Spring Training for the first time to meet the team. She couldn’t wait to get to know the players and share their stories. When she talks about the players, she could easily be talking about herself.
“That is my job: I am trying to showcase their personalities and help them feel comfortable and show fans what these guys are like,” she said. “That is what this is all about. They are just real, hard working people, but they are all normal. Everyone has their funny personality, their quirks. This way we can give fans an inside look and help them connect to the players – how much fun they really do have, how hard they work and how much goes into where they are now and what it took for them to get there. There’s so much behind it, coming up from the minors, people getting brought up…There is so much more that goes on.”
Keep up with Alex by following her on Twitter @Alex_Curry or at alex-curry.com.