Thursday, January 13, 2011

Alex Boylan: Five questions with...

Before Alex Boylan was "Amazing Race winner and celebrity" Alex Boylan, he was "Jacksonville University undergraduate and soccer player" Alex Boylan. But since leaving the JU campus with a B.S in International Business, his career has been a roller coaster ride (or perhaps mountain climb is more appropriate, based on this picture).

With numerous accomplishments since becoming a JU alumni, the Dolphin Network had a chance to speak with Alex on the heels of his latest achievement. In true Alex fashion, he had plenty to say, and we didn't want to edit a word of it, so we have decided to break this post up into two parts, with the conclusion to be published in the upcoming days:

1. You have been out of JU for about 10 years now. What memories (academic, athletic, socially, etc.) still resonate with you and have helped you grow since you left school?

So where do I start...obviously going through the business program at JU equipped me in a number of ways to be successful in life. The close relationships I had with my professors is something I will always remember. Professor Pamela Prentice was my advisor, as well my communications professor. Considering communications is pretty much my life these days, I need to give her a lot of credit. What at the time seemed unrealistic, I can vividly remember her keeping our workload at an extremely high level. We never would be working on just one project..she would have the class juggle 15 projects simultaneously. And that was a very realistic glimpse of what would be needed on my path to success. It always seemed like she had a smirk on her face as she ended class knowing the amount of preparation and work we would need to get done by next class. Nonetheless I am very grateful for her pushing me.

Also I fondly remember Professor Thorton. It is hard to make Business Statistics and Quantitative Analysis classes exciting, but somehow he did it. Professor Thorton was also interested in his students activities outside the classroom. Many times I would see him at the soccer games rooting us on...and would regularly shoot pool with him down the road at the local pub.

Playing soccer for JU was probably the highlight of my time at JU. Making it to the sweet 16 my senior year is something many athletes shoot for, but never achieve. The coaches and players from years past, current and future are a family and is probably the strongest bond I felt through my college years.

2. You and your team recently won an award for your “Around the World for Free” video series, but as many people know, your career in media started well before then. Can you discuss some of the career steps you have taken that led you to this most recent success?

I have certainly been blessed in my career. In short this is how it went. After school, I took the path I guess I was supposed to do. Get a job, make money, repeat. But after 9 months, I realized that sitting in a cubical analyzing numbers was not the future for me. So I quit...moved to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and took up bartending for a year (as you can imagine my parents were very proud). Nonetheless I had to do it to clear my head and figure out what I was going to do with my life. After a year in the islands, I returned to my home in Boston and began seriously looking into what career and life path was meant for me. This was the summer of 2001, and the first reality show was on air: Survivor. I was hooked to the show and for the first time started regularly watching tv.

During that summer, a pop up came on my computer saying:

"Race Around The World For A Million Dollars for the TV Show 'The Amazing Race!!'" 

I though, "I can do that." Heck, by this point in my life I, had lived in Brazil, Germany and the Caribbean, not to mention traveled to over 35 countries around the world. Well, as luck turned out I got picked to do the show and blessed to actually win it. Being a competitor on the show was, well, amazing in and of itself...but I was fascinated with the production and what happened behind the scenes to pull this show off. And it was then that I knew what I want to do with my life.

From there, PineRidge Film and Television in Jacksonville tapped me to start hosting shows for them. Soon after the first series, I started producing the shows I was hosting. I had a great run and still work with the team back there from time to time. Then I decided to move back to Los Angeles where I wasn't 100% clear what I was going to do. I did some freelance work here and there and was trying to sell a surf series (that I am still trying to sell). A fellow reality contestant and good friend, Burton Roberts, was on a very similar path. He too worked in the corporate world but fell in love with reality TV after competing on Survivor. We would share war stories of pitching and developing show concepts. And one day over a few beers, we decided to join forces and start Around The World Productions. The first project we developed was "Around The World For Free." We saw the path of reality TV moving to become more interactive with shows being decided on audience votes like American Idol....

In Part 2 of this interview, Alex will talk about the brainstorm behind this award-winning concept, as well as thoughts for the JU Community.

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