Women Calling Shots Behind the Scenes at ‘Fox NFL Sunday’

Stephanie Medina NFL Behind the Scenes
Robbie Tassaro

At NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s dud of a press conference on Sept. 19, the commish seemed to confirm an embarrassing fact: The NFL had no women in the room as it decided how to handle discipline for Ray Rice after a tape became public showing the Baltimore Ravens running back knocking out the woman who is now his wife in an elevator in February.

The league could take a cue from “Fox NFL Sunday,” where women are a constant presence, both in traditional female roles like wardrobe and makeup — and in more powerful functions.

Director Stephanie Medina calls the shots for the show. She’s a perennial Sports Emmy nominee and a winner for her work with Major League Baseball on Fox.

Shooting on the “Fox NFL Sunday” set is complex. Medina is responsible for choreographing “the dance,” as she calls it, which gets crew and talent to the right place at the right time. “There are a lot of moving pieces, and there’s only a certain amount of space,” she says. “We have to make sure that everybody knows the flow, and that we don’t get in each other’s way.”

Her skill has earned her the respect of her crew and Fox Sports execs alike. “She is precise on what she wants, which as a director is the key to the job,” says Fox Sports VP of production Judy H. Boyd, herself a multiple Sports Emmy winner.

Down the hall from Medina’s control room is the domain of Lisa Ashley, department head for hair and makeup at Fox Sports. Ashley has been with “Fox NFL Sunday” since its debut.

Makeup for the show can be challenging, as Jay Glazer and Terry Bradshaw have been known to arrive with cuts and bumps. “They’re dudes. It’s going to happen,” says Ashley affectionately. But she sends them to the set looking lightly tanned and healthy.

VP of production Gina Porretti observes that the makeup team’s energy is important in keeping an upbeat tone during predawn cast and crew calls.  “They have to have a really good rapport and relationship (with the hosts),” Porretti says. “You want your talent to be in a good mood when they’re walking out on the studio floor. They’re one of the first faces you see.”

Victoria Trilling, head stylist for Fox Sports Media Group, creates outfits for the on-air talent. In a converted tape vault downstairs from the dressing rooms, she makes the analysts’ ties and pocket squares somehow look both playful and immaculate.

Host Curt Menefee says he often gets compliments on those pocket squares. “And I always go, ‘Hey, it’s not me.’ I’m like an 8-year-old whose mom lays his clothes out in the morning.”

As with many long-running hits, deep bonds have grown between members of the company. Trilling, Ashley and others call it a family. “The women are an incredible group that really support each other,” Trilling says. “It’s a great team.”

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