The first thing you should know about Molly Qerim is that she does her research, and she does it well. When we hopped on the phone a couple months ago to talk about the success of her quickly-rising show First Take, among other things, her initial thoughts weren’t about sports at all, but astrology. Qerim had found my Twitter profile and noted immediately that we were both Aries, mischievous and impulsive fire signs with an unassailable drive toward greatness and perfectionism.
For both of us — prominent women working in the primarily male-dominated field of media — the sign has become a source of power and self-identification, both to laugh at and earnestly connect with.
“I’m very Aries,” she chuckles, as we begin our interview. “Every characteristic, good and the bad.”
That isn’t at all surprising when you really think about it — you’d basically have to be a fire sign to deal with the kind of pressure Qerim regularly fields as the host and moderator of one of ESPN’s most divisive shows, First Take. But in the age of the Hot Takes, the thinkpiece economy, and never-ending Twitter debates, divisiveness is actually a good thing; at the top of the year ESPN opted to move the show from its original home on ESPN 2 to a slot on the network’s more prestigious, hallmark ESPN channel.
This is in no small part due to Qerim’s quick-witted shepherding of her costars, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, who are tasked with creating the turmoil of takes that consistently make the show a hot topic of conversation.