Romy Titus packs a mean punch, something about her lineage has endowed this successful television and radio sports anchor with the acumen to stay in the game, and when she hit the canvas, she brings her fighting spirit into play to ensure the game goes on, with her at the helm.
With nearly a decade in sports broadcasting under the belt, its not hard to see why Titus remains one of SA’s success stories. Her strong work ethic and determination to excel at what she does puts her in an elite class of women in sports media who are prepare to endure the challenges, and pave the way for future generations.
In this frank interview with gsport before heading off to cover the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur, the SABC Sport presenter talks about her journey in sports broadcasting, what she has learnt along the way and what she aspires to achieve in years to come.
Romy, how did it all start?
I studied Journalism, and knew that broadcasting would be my first choice, but when Sport came along, I thought it would only be a temporary thing, and that I would go back to being the hard news junkie! Since 2005 I’ve been dabbling in all codes of sport, but since 2010 my romance for soccer blossomed into a love!
Take us back to your first sports broadcasting gig. How did it go and how were you received?
I did Sportswrap on SABC. It was very different from the guts and gore that I was used to out in the field, yet still newsy.
Reception was good – although the men did roll their eye balls at me… Who’s rolling their eye balls now??
I travelled to Phoenix Arizona last year to speak on a panel of wonderful female journalists from all over the USA (AWSM), that was a great honour to share my knowledge of sport from an African perspective. They have it so much easier than we do – but they’re also a lot further than we holistically when it comes to sport on all levels. I was also one of the journalists this year to form part of the judging panel for the Laureus sports awards, and to be called ‘one of the leading sports journalists in the world’ by Laureus Chair Edwin Moses, in itself is like me winning a Laureus Award.
What would you say is your key strength that has sustained you in this industry over the years?
Professionalism. My work speaks for itself, long after the broadcast is over. I believe in hard work, in research, in giving it my all, in asking questions and doing what I do to the best of my ability and then some. When you play with the boys you soon realise that you’ve got to earn your stripes, and what better way to do it than to be the best you can possibly be.
What are your current projects and how are you enjoying them?
I’m currently on SABC Sport and focus mainly on soccer on TV and Radio.
It scared me when I decided to focus solely on Sport and often thought it was the wrong thing, today everything in me beams!
I love watching a nation unite – 20 years into a democracy and Sport does that… Soccer does that! And I live it every day, far away from the guts and gore!
What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
I’m my biggest critic… So I’m very hard on everything I do… I always ask how to do it better.
There would come times when I would literally focus solely on what I didn’t like, instead of what I liked.
I try look at each broadcast now, with the good first and ponder on the not so good, less…
I still knit pick at things, but the perfectionist in me has quieted down a bit. Positives first… There is enough pressure just being female!
How do you celebrate your femininity in what is still a male-dominated industry?
Men are more receptive to women!!!! Fact!
I celebrate by asking questions deemed too frilly, too girly – I know that my male counterparts would never ask, and then relish in the answer that brings forth information one could only dream of extracting. I get a real kick out of those moments. The difference between men and women on the pitch. But if you’re asking if I wear dresses… not on the soccer pitch… It’s important to blend… be one of the boys…
Who are some of the people who have supported you along the way?
My family. I know they think I’m crazy, but over the past decade and some bit of me being in the broadcasting world, they’ve put on their seat belts and went along with me on the roller coaster ride.
There have been ups and downs and looping star spirals. They’re all still here… all tuning in and all in support on what I do! They’re my biggest fans and I love them for that!
Study first. Pay your dues!!!! If you’re in the game to be famous… forget it! If you’re blinded by the apparent bucks we earn or the glamour… Oh you’re fooled.
It’s not easy and you’ll need a back bone and some ‘Rhino Butt’ skin. So tread only if you dare and if this is what gets your insides doing flick flacks. For any other reason… You’ll be doomed!
How would you describe Romy Titus?
I’m a Capricorn. So organized, precision, perfection is really what I strive for!
But I’m really just the girl next door waiting for my Prince Charming. I love gardening, children (I run a charity called Babies Behind Bars) and chocolate and you could even catch me crying at re-runs of Oprah.
How do you relax?
Massages… I love spa’s and spend a lot of time trying and testing.
I’m even thinking I should be blogging all about it, because I do consider myself thee critique!
If not then a bubble bath and some Champers!
What is your motto in life?
If you want it! Have it!!!!!
Who are the women you look up to?
Lesley Visser, an American Women who is past retirement age and still going…
Proof that knowledge is everything and not looks. She says: “I have gone from being Lady Diana to Camilla in the broadcasting world.” LOL
Kass Naidoo – in South Africa, she is the first women of colour I recall being in sport, that I watched on TV. Paving the way for so many others…
Oprah Winfrey, Frene Ginwala, Lady Di… So many for different reasons…
Who is your favourite South African sportswoman?
Natalie Du Toit. I have followed her story from the very beginning. From the tragic accident to where she is today.
She once described it all as a blessing in disguise – and continues to live her dream despite all the odds.
I complain every day of my life with arms and legs that work… Yet she has accomplished so much with less of the complaining and a strong spirit.
She’s my she-ro!
How can we raise the profile of women’s sport in South Africa?
More profiles like this… but perhaps form an association which encompasses us all under one umbrella.
The sisters need to start supporting each other, yet I think we’re so used to stepping on each other to get to where we want to be.
There really are blessings for us all… I do think it’s time to embrace one another and hold hands and we push forward.
What inspires you?
My late grandpa is my inspiration. He always taught me to believe in me and to become whatever I could dream of.
Sometimes my ambitions are a little too big for me to even grasp, but if it does not scare me, then it’s not big enough…
He was an amateur boxer… And taught me a few swings, so look out! I punch!
I only have one life. I might as well live it!
What is your greatest ambition?
To work for an international broadcaster and feed them sport from South Africa and Africa.
To produce my own sports documentaries and to eventually write a book….
How can people get hold of you?
Tell us about your website …
Its a little bit about me and what I do, to keep those interested informed on what I’m doing, how my charity is faring and the latest job I’m working on. I blog on there too. A secret passion of mine is the written word so I blog my thoughts, be it sport, the weaver bird in my garden or boys blues… it’s all there! www.romytitus.co.za
Main photo caption: Romy Titus is one of South Africa’s trending personalities in sports media, with just under a decade in this cut-throat industry under the belt. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 caption: Titus has her makeup touched up for television sports reporting. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 caption: Titus interviews now SAFA president Dr Danny Jordaan at the Orange African Cup of Nations. Photo: Supplied