2 Minutes With … Stevland Wilson, VP at Monumental Sports & Entertainment
At Monumental, Stevland leads post production, design and animation. He began his 23-year career in news radio, where he developed a keen sense of storytelling. His work caught the attention of major networks, leading to tenures with ABC News, CBS Sports, ESPN and Hearst Television.
We spent two minutes with Stevland to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he’s admired.
Stevland, tell us …
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and came to the U.S. at the age of six. My mom and I settled in Brooklyn. We lived with my grandmother, uncles, close family friends and eventually my stepdad in a six-story building positioned towards the back of an East Flatbush housing complex. There were nine of us in a one-bedroom apartment sharing beds, sleeping on couches and the floor. A few years later, my parents, myself and my younger brother moved to a tiny, first-floor, two-bedroom apartment on Flatbush Ave., where we stayed until my senior year of high school before moving to South Jamaica, Queens. Now I live in Connecticut. My, how times have changed.
Your earliest sports memory.
My earliest memories of sports dates to my time in Guyana. I remember my dad teaching me how to play cricket, and racing other kids in the streets of our neighborhood. I was always competing against older kids (mostly barefoot), and would lose. So, by the time I came to the States and competed against kids my age, I was a pretty good athlete. Especially when wearing sneakers!
Your favorite sports team(s).
Well of course it's now the [Washington] Wizards, Caps and Mystics … But undoubtedly the Pittsburgh Steelers. I became a fan of the Steelers when I was 12 years old. I fell in love with how physical they played. When I did research on the team's history, I learned of their dynasty in the 70s. During my time as a producer at ESPN, I got to work with the entire defense on a video/photo shoot. That might've been my favorite fan moment while working as a professional.
Your favorite athlete(s).
Growing up, my favorite athletes were Junior Seau with the Chargers, Greg Lloyd with the Steelers and Ray Lewis, as far back as when he was at the University of Miami. I had magazine cutouts of Seau and Lloyd on my wall and would watch highlights of them all the time. In high school I wore my jersey the way Ray did at the U (showing off his abs). I was also a Michael Jordan fan … and I still love him as an athlete even after watching The Last Dance!
Your favorite sports show or podcast.
I try not to spend as much time outside of work watching sports these days, since I've been around it most of my life. I use my downtime studying other interests. However, I do enjoy The Pivot Podcast, All the Smoke and The Arthur Moats Experience. I also like shows that remind me of myself and friends just kicking it.
Your favorite sports movie and/or video game.
My favorite sports movie is The Program. When that came out, it had every football player fired up! Teams would travel together to watch it in theaters. When it was released on VHS, I would rent it from Blockbuster and watch it repeatedly. My favorite sports video game was Tecmo Bowl. I would play with the Raiders and destroy people with Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen and Tim Brown on offense. Then on defense I would catch wreck with Howie Long. You could take the handoff with Bo Jackson and run all the way back to your own goal line, then circle around to run for 100 yards while breaking 11 tackles. Lol!
A recent project you're proud of.
A recent project that I'm proud of is our game presentation at Monumental. Being part of creating the game experience for multiple teams, particularly the Wizards and Caps simultaneously, is an incredible task. Then we transition to the Go-Go (G-League) and Mystics. We have a dynamic video, graphics and animation production team that, in my opinion, works harder than most production groups in sports simply by virtue of volume. The content and looks we're able to display in a single regular-season week are phenomenal. Not to mention that we do this now while creating broadcast content for our regional sports network, MSN.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
I recently watched The Deepest Breath and was absolutely blown away! As a producer I've worked with deep sea divers, so I've always been impressed with their ability to travel to great depths on a single breath. But this documentary was incredible. To have so much original footage and tell a story of triumph, love and tragedy was literally breathtaking!
What sports can do that nothing else can.
Sports can draw several emotions. It can be passionate, loving, overwhelming, encouraging, competitive and heartbreaking. It can teach discipline, hard work, teamwork, commitment, compassion and accountability. It forces you to push yourself beyond limitations, it can prepare you for mental toughness, but it can also be mentally depleting. Through all those emotions there can only be one champion … then you get to start the journey all over again.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports world.
If I wasn't in the sports world I would likely be in the world of news or music. I started my career in radio as an engineer for a program called Radio Africa International. I always had a connection to music through my name (I'm named after a famous musician), growing up around it as a child, DJ'ing with my friends as teenagers. While in radio I would play global music from genres that were new to me at the time. If I hadn't transitioned into sports television, I might've continued down that path.