Time Warner Cable Sports reporter and NFL Network producer Krystle Rich has taken her reporting hustle to the next level. She released her first urban fiction novel, Ambivalent Hope: A Gun & A Prayer, in April.
Not only is Rich an author at age 25, but she’s also become a writer and producer with her first short film — an 18-minute book trailer — that features 19 Black Hollywood actors.
Rich hopes the film, which depicts the action in the book, will help people gain a perspective on social issues, as well as a sense of compassion.
“I want people to know that my book is an intriguing story, but also a spiritual journey,” said Rich. “Right now is a crucial time for it to come out because of all the protests that are taking place throughout the country with Black Lives Matter. Society needs novels like this to realize that racism does exist, but with compassion, we as people can unify and get through anything together regardless of race, religion, and socio-economic status.”
As far as her journey, Rich said juggling the novel, the film, and her career as a sports reporter has been an “uphill battle” but “totally worth” the hours and the dedication.
“As women of color we are always fighting to be taken seriously especially in the sports arena, as well as in Hollywood. It’s been difficult taking on so many different things on a variety of platforms, but I think I have found ways to rise to the challenge by being professional, being myself and being persistent,” said Rich. “I also think part of my success is just going for what I want. Nothing worth having is ever easy, but after all the time, all the hours, and all the work I have put it, I am very happy to say that I am a sports reporter, an author, a producer, and a director. Everything I have done has become a labor of love.”
MN: How long have you been a sports reporter?
Krystle Rich: I’ve always wanted to be on-air reporting on sports, so I started doing it in college at a broadcasting network, and I got great training and exposure. After college, I moved to Los Angeles to be a producer and editor with the NFL Network and even though I wasn’t on air I got some really good training and skill development. I learned how to edit creatively, and that eventually helped me with the book trailer.
Two years later I took the job with Time Warner and became a sports and wellness reporter and got a lot of on-air experience and have interviewed so many interesting people like Richard Sherman and Austin Pettis. It’s been a really fun journey and even though it can be hard for women – especially women of color – it’s not impossible.
MN: Why have you been interested in sports specifically?
KR: My interest in sports started as a little kid growing up with my father and brothers. My mother was also a sports fan but being around people that really knew the game — especially in the Philly area — helped me learn a lot. It was during the Alan Iverson era and we would always rush home and watch the basketball and football games, and that was our family bonding time. It was a seed that was planted and cultivated and in college I knew I would get into sports. I ended up going to Rutgers University and I was the sports director and covered sports across the board. I was able to refine my skills and was able to break down what happened at a game for the audience and I just got better at analyzing on a professional level and I just wanted to learn more and more.
MN: Are you ever able to cover certain political issues while covering sports?
KR: With sports and Black culture specifically there have been many incidents lately like when Derrick Rose wore a T-shirt that said “I can’t breathe.” Also, if you remember in 1968 when Black Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in the air during their medal ceremony. That was a hugely powerful statement. As a sports reporter, I would be able to address these things, and it’s exciting because sports has so much influence over our lives.
MN: What made you write a novel?
KR: When I started the book I had a bunch of ideas, and I just came home and started writing bullet points. Each one was one sentence, then it turned into a paragraph, then two paragraphs and before I knew it I had an outline to write the book. Every night after work, I would come home and sit down and write 1,000 words. I had this idea in my mind, and it played out like a movie onto the pages and two and a half months later the book was finished.
MN: What was your approach to publishing?
KR: I found out when I wanted to get the book published that it was going to be a hard process. I know the television world, and the literary world was just a whole different thing and at the beginning I made a lot of rookie mistakes. But I kept pitching to publishing houses, and learned about literary agents, and still I got rejected a bunch of times. I really had no idea what I was doing but I eventually sat down and wrote a 30-page proposal and then set off to various places. That ended up working and I got multiple offers. I eventually went with Tate Publishing and they’ve been great. But as I look back, I realize that it took eight months to get that whole process down and when I compare it to how long it took to write the book it’s so funny. But you learn through trial and error and I ended up with a great publisher.
MN: What is the book about?
KR: The book revolves around the main character Tumaini Battle, who was born and raised in the worst housing project of South Central in Los Angeles. When he witnessed the death of his uncle, who believed he was forsaken by God, Tumaini struggled throughout his childhood and adult life with the question: Is there God in the ghetto? Tumaini, which means hope in Swahili, was a young boy who was snatched away from his alcoholic mother and forced to survive and protect his little brother in foster care homes.
I call this book urban fiction, or Christian fiction, and it’s really a cross between all of those things. Many of the concepts depicted are about my life and others lives, and it’s relatable to anyone whether from an impoverished area or from Beverly Hills. It’s a story about hope and about the battle and the concepts within that can be applied to anyone’s life. The end result is that I have a story about faith, hope, and survival.
MN: What made you create a film in addition to the novel?
KR: I know that marketing is a big process in anything you do, and I wanted to capture the audience on all fronts. So I started poking around the Internet, and I learned that book trailers are “a thing.” Most of what I found were 15-second trailer. So I decided that in order to give viewers a really good look at the book, I needed to go longer. So I recruited 19 incredible actors and developed an in-depth look of the book, which can spark the interest of a spectrum of ages. It ended up being a four-month process to film, produce, direct, and edit. It really can be defined as a short film at 18 minutes long.
MN: How did you get the capital to make this film?
KR: Financially it was a pretty big sacrifice. But, again, I am happy to say that it was a sacrifice that I believe in. I knew that this would be a fruitful endeavor and it was a part of my journey. As things came up I was able to pay for things in increments and I had savings as well as my 9-to-5, which helped me pay for this passion project. It was more of a huge time commitment with early mornings and late nights but being able to pull it off was a huge accomplishment.
MN: What have you learned about yourself in the different journeys you have taken with your career?
KR: I have learned that I can touch people’s lives in a meaningful way and use the platform I have for something good. I have loved getting to know myself and the different layers that there are to me as a person. It’s been amazing being able to encourage others to use their platforms for positivity and respect you can earn just by taking a stance and finding your inner power.
MN: And where will you go from here?
KR: For my career I would like to stay in sports and make it to national television. That is where I see my future. I would also like to direct a movie, open my own business, be involved in youth mentoring, and make a documentary. There are many things out there on the horizon for me and while it’s really hard to make it any industry, I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.