Updated: Sep 20
Not a lot of Belmont alumni have their avatar in a video game.
But wrestling fans will soon be able to play as Kayla Becker — known professionally as Kayla Braxton — in “WWE 2K22.” Players can watch her interview wrestling superstars like she does on WWE Network’s “Friday Night SmackDown,” “Talking Smack” and “The Bump.” Or they can play as her in the ring, she said.
But long before making her video game debut, Becker started her broadcasting career with little experience and lots of drive.
Becker shared her advice for success with students at her alma mater, speaking at a WELL Core event Thursday on her way to work Friday’s WWE SmackDown in Nashville.
Fresh out of college and newly hired as a traffic analyst for the WESH Orlando TV station, Becker’s first day on the job was also her last, she said at the event.
Taking her first steps in front of the camera, the Belmont alum didn’t have a clue what she was doing, she said.
“I have to use a GPS to get to my local gas station, I should have no business telling anybody how to get to work in the morning,” Becker said.
“I had the green screen behind me. And I’m in these high heels and this dress, and I’m backing up pretending like I know what I’m doing. I tripped and fell, and I took down the camera guy with me. He looks at me and goes, ‘It’s not gonna work out, kid.’”
But even faced with those words, Becker chose to put in the work, build on the skills she learned in college and is now trailblazing for women and people of color as a prominent broadcaster in the WWE.
Standing at just 4’ 11”, always glammed up and camera-ready, Becker taught herself how to navigate the glitz of TV broadcast work and the “nitty-gritty” of journalism, she said.
“I did everything, from editing, writing stories from start to finish, posting to the website to print,” Becker said.
“It’s very important to know how to do all of those things, even if you don’t use them in your career. Being a Swiss Army knife is gonna get you so, so, so far.”
Now, she’s making her mark in the sports broadcasting industry as one of the most prominent female presenters in the WWE.
WWE has often come under scrutiny for its depiction of women and minorities. As a woman of color, Becker is proud to be a part of the company’s push in a new direction toward positive representation, she said.
“We had our first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view called ‘Evolution’ a few years ago, which was iconic and a milestone within the company. So it has been really cool to be one of the primary female broadcasters,” said Becker.
“The WWE has really made it a focus to make women feel as equal,” she said.
Becker interviews wrestling superstars behind the scenes and hosts “The Bump,” a morning show where she presents the biggest news on the WWE circuit.
Part of her job is to fire up wrestlers while they wield their in-ring personas, building up drama before the main events.
Becker credited Belmont’s media studies department for preparing her for a career in entertainment and journalism. While in college, she reported for the Belmont Vision and hosted her own talk show: “What’s Goin’ Down in Bruin Town.”
“We see those job listings that say you need three to five years experience, and you think, ‘How the heck am I supposed to get that if I’m just out of college?’ You’re getting that in college,” Becker said.
She told students who want to work in entertainment to venture into the industry on their own, create content and force their foot in the door.
“Don’t wait for them to come to you. You need to go to them. Make them know why they can’t operate without your skill set,” she said.
“Take the initiative. Always.”
PHOTO: Becker speaking at the WELL Core event Thursday. Belmont University / Sam Simpkins
This article was written by Gus Sneh and Camden Morris.