Sanya Richards-Ross wants to take over the world, and she invites WE: Women's Entertainment viewers to watch her do it.
In "Sanya's Glam & Gold," premiering Thursday, July 25, the high-energy four-time Olympic gold medal sprinter goes about her busy life as a businesswoman and co-owner of an Austin, Texas, hair salon, as well as the wife of a fellow high-profile athlete, New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross.
We also meet her family, otherwise known as "Team S.R.R.": parents Archie and Sharon, who double as her manager and agent respectively; sister and business partner Shari; and cousin, publicist and stylist Yolande.
With an athlete's competitive years being comparatively few, Richards-Ross says she approached WE with the idea for the series as a way to help launch her business efforts and her brand.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a little while," Richards-Ross, 28, tells Zap2it. "I would say since 2008, about four years, I've been throwing this idea around in my family. And the person in my family who I think had the most opposition was my husband, Ross. He is really a private person and was kind of resistant to the idea of doing something like this. But over time, I think he became more and more open to the idea, and the production company we worked with, Good Clean Fun, they were so awesome, they really allowed us to be ourselves, and I think everyone was really happy to do it.
"But it did take some convincing," she continues, "especially my dad and my husband. The guys weren't so crazy about it. I think the women, because we're all kind of reality show junkies - I'm not as much as my sister and my cousin - we all think it's a fun and unique opportunity.
"So yeah, we were on board a lot quicker than the guys," she says, laughing.
The pilot provided to journalists for review establishes the personalities and the relationships: Mom and Dad as the sage advisers, Dad's advice coming with a Jamaican accent; Aaron the laid-back spouse; Yolande the go-between and Ms. Fix-It; and Shari, the sister, partner and sibling rival. And in the opening episode, there is considerable locking of horns.
"There's absolutely a rivalry there," says Lauren Gellart, senior vice president of production and development at WE. "Well, (Shari) has her own point of view and she doesn't let it go. And she says, 'You don't get to just come in and out of this world. This is my world.' And so Sanya has a very different opinion of that.
"Sanya funded the business when it first started. And if you watch, by the end of that first episode they kind of come to an agreement on how they're going to work together moving forward because when Sanya kind of finished up this past Olympic season, she got back to Texas and said, 'OK, I'm here to take over now.' And (Shari) said, 'What are you talking about? Get out of here.' And that was the beginning of the, 'Hold on a second, I didn't just stake you, I want a piece of this to build as my own.' "
"My sister and I," Richards-Ross says, "actually it's funny, we are the best of friends. The only issue that we've ever had is really starting this business together, and so for us it was like one issue in every family where you have a family business, you can relate to that dynamic of separating your friendship and your sisterly relationship from what's best for the business. And so I think for us it was all about being real and being relatable, and we were excited to share our issues.
"We actually came through that and our working relationship is so much better now, and the business is doing really, really well. So I think the entire experience was almost therapeutic for us as a family because you really are forced to face these issues that you have and so it was great. ... It was almost like family therapy."
Meanwhile at home, husband Aaron has a wife who is not the typical stay-at-home NFL wife. She, too, is an athlete with two careers, and she isn't necessarily keen on starting a family just yet.
"There is a little frustration for Aaron sometimes with Sanya too," Gellart says, "because of the desire for the wife once in a while. You know, she is not a baller's wife. She is her own person and she is her own business and her own brand, and she's not one of those women that his teammates are married to. ... You'll see the tensions they deal with in their marriage, for sure. And there are conflicts and tensions, and there are moments where Aaron is like, 'Can't you just put me first once?' "
As for Richards-Ross, she just wants to have her businesses up and running by the time she and Aaron decide to have kids so she can devote herself to being a full-time mom.
"When I was young, my dad always told me not to be one-dimensional," she says. "And I feel like up until this point, I've chased this dream to be a track star and to be an Olympic champion for 20 years. And I've finally accomplished that, and I feel like there's so much more to me than just being a track star. And so I want to own my own business. I have one currently and I want to do more. I want to do some acting and hosting. I want to do more in fashion. I love beauty and fashion.
"So I just want to be like the J-Los of the world, who explore all of themselves. They sing, they dance; they just do everything. ... I want to try a lot of things and also I want to be a great humanitarian. I love people and I want to give back, and so I want to do as much as I can, so that I can retire and just do goodwill across the world. So yeah, that's sort of my take-over-the-world mission. ...
"One of my kind of heroes as a person is Angelina Jolie. She's done such great work on camera, but she's just such a great representative as a woman and a humanitarian, so I want to be like that."
Photo/Video credit: WE