For Skubie Mageza, it’s always been about reps.
Back in his Curry days, when Mageza was a star athlete for the Colonels football team, his coach would often ask him and his teammates where they see themselves in five years. His answer? Working for ESPN.
He was only about two years off, but Mageza eventually worked his way up from operating the teleprompter at a local Boston news station in the middle of the night to working as a digital sports host for the largest sports broadcast network in the world.
“I moved to Boston when I was seven years old from Zimbabwe with just my mother and my brother,” he said. “There's something about that immigrant mindset because you come to the land of opportunity and it's all or nothing, sink or swim type of thing. And getting to ESPN was a ‘this is why we came to this country’ moment.”
His journey was anything but a straight path, but the Communication major took every experience as a life lesson, and never passed on an opportunity to get his reps in.
With the help of his Communication program faculty and mentors at Curry, Mageza completed three undergraduate internships where he was able to network and gain real-world experience. He added WHDH-TV, The Brockton Rox, and NESN to his resume, but knew that the grind was just beginning-and he was ready for it.
Mageza’s first post-graduate role was as a teleprompter operator for Fox25, manning a shift that began at the ungodly hour of 3:00 a.m. -rep number one. Instead of just going through the motions, the self-motivated Communication Scholar also frequently visited the sports department off-hours just to observe the day-to-day operations as an aspiring sports anchor.
“Sometimes you have to just sit and watch because you're not at that point where you can get reps, but there's a lot of value in sitting and watching,” he said. “I did that for a while and I was able to create a resume reel tape, which ended up getting me my first on-camera opportunity.”
Rep number two: Mageza was hired as a sports anchor for WBKB-TV 11, in Alpena, Michigan, home of the second smallest TV market in the country. Mageza, who was born in Zimbabwe, was far from city life and living closer to the Canadian border than to Detroit. He had to adjust to this new life, in a rural area with a population of just over 10,000 people, 95% of which identify as Caucasian.
“There are a lot of challenges as a black man in this industry because your identity is questioned at times - whether you can talk the way you talk, dress the way you dress, and whether your name even fits in with what the audience is used to having on television, because representation is important,” he said. Still, Mageza adapted and stuck it out for 19 months.
“It all goes back to reps. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I enjoyed my time out in Michigan,” he said. “It was a small town, but you know, sometimes you need to be in a small place so you can mess up and can get those reps in so you can go through the grind and try out some things and see they work.”
Cue rep number three in Davenport, Iowa.
After his contract was up in Michigan, Mageza began applying for other roles, turning down several positions in larger cities where he would have been just a “sports score reader.” He landed at KWQC TV-6 News as a sports anchor in Iowa, where he was given the creative freedom on air, ultimately catching the attention of ESPN.
In September 2021, Mageza got the call he’d been waiting for since he was seven years old.
Through all his reps, college experiences, and life lessons, he was officially headed to pursue his dream job at ESPN. Enjoying every moment of his new career, Mageza looks back at his seven-year-old self with pride.
"We came here with a dream, and I was able achieve one of my own. I'm really blessed in the sense that I'm somebody that set a goal and a destination and was able to accomplish it. I understand that and I have a testimony, I have a story and I make an effort to try and inspire and empower others by telling them how I overcame adversity. We came to this country with pretty much nothing, and we got to this point where we have what we want. There’s a lot to be said about that.”
In addition to his television duties, Mageza also hosts ESPN’s Sportscenter Snapchat show, which requires him to cover a variety of events, some of which pop up just days before. In October of 2022, his journey came full circle when he received a call to fly out to Los Angeles to cover the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever red carpet event.
“Black Panther is such a strong representation of African culture around the world,” he said. “That’s why it’s so inspiring to see people who look like us on this platform. To be at the world premier as an African-born kid was like a dream come true.” Sporting a traditional African gown, Mageza was fully immersed in what he says was a top-three moment of his career.
One of the main reasons why Mageza enjoys his career so much? Because of the people that he works with, which brings him back to why he appreciated his time at Curry.
“When you work with people that want to be better every day, it's easy for me to work with them because I'm on the same type of frequency. “And that goes back to football field. The best teams that I played on are the ones that wanted to be better themselves, where my expectation of them didn't surpass the expectations of myself.”
While highly self-motivated, Mageza looks back to his Curry days and appreciates the hands-on learning, the tight-knit community, and sense of home. “Every professor at Curry gets to know you on a personal level and wants you to succeed. That was key in my development,” he said. “But one of the best things I enjoyed about Curry the community. When you walk around campus, you feel a sense of belonging, and it feels like home.”