Love Is All You Need
Interview & Words Alexandra Stevens
Photography Sarah Kjelleren
“You’re doing my job,” Ally Love tells me with a laugh. “What are you gonna ask me now?” she challenges teasingly. I’m leaning against a fold-out table, scattered end to end in makeup and brushes, iPhone in hand on record. She sits across from me on a faded stool in a tank top and frayed cut offs, flooded in heavy afternoon sunlight. We’re taking a break between looks for our cover shoot, and Love is in limbo. Her face and hair are undoubtedly camera ready, but her outfit her own, casual and easy. Her skin glows in the sort of ethereal way that makes you question whether or not you’re really standing in the same room, in the same stifling June heat. But Love tells me she loves to sweat - she is from Miami. She also proves to be equally as dynamic on the receiving end of questions as she is from her usual position of interviewer. Of course, being a career performer probably makes that a little easier.
Love came to New York almost ten years ago, pursing a dance career. After graduating from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a minor in Theology, Love danced with contemporary ballet companies throughout the country. She then auditioned to be a Knicks City Dancer, landing both and spot and eventual performances with globally recognized artists like Pitbull, Wyclef Jean, and even an MTV VMA performance with Beyoncé. Dancing was taking Love all over country, and her success in stadiums and on stage only felt like the beginning.
“Everyone always wants more, more, more in New York City,” said Love. “Nobody is ever fulfilled. It’s always about the next level.” So she put together a portfolio and submitted her materials to Wilhelmina, one of New York’s top modeling agencies, and was picked up on her first interview. In the six years since then, support from Wilhelmina has landed Love spreads and campaigns with iconic brands like Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Elle, and Target. People were seeing her - now it was her turn to be heard, too.
“I’m a dancer, but I also have a strong voice. It’s not just that I’m opinionated and wanted to talk - I knew I had an edge,” Love explained. “After modeling for so many years, I knew I’ve got my face out there, I obviously got my dance moves out there, but I never really got my voice out there.” She created an organization called SpreadSomLove (SsL) that provides support and planning for charities and nonprofits, helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid children. She then decided to turn to on-camera work, taking classes and pursing commercial opportunities. Love quickly realized that scripted gigs didn’t allow for enough personal expression, so she turned to hosting, hoping to bring her vivacity to the TV screen.
“I wanted to be able to speak freely, I want to say what I think and ask people questions,” said Love. “I’m very social - I’ve got the gift of gab. I was like, how can I utilize this and allow it to take me to the next level?”
Soon Love had had a reel, and she sent it to everyone she knew, knowing it would eventually reach the right person. And it did. The Brooklyn Nets were bringing basketball to New York’s most populous borough with the newly reformed team and a billion-dollar arena, looking to fill a spot for an in-arena MC and on-camera host. Love snagged the position, and the Barclay’s Center was her new stage.
“I’m the girl in the heels on court,” she said. “You might not see her face, or know her name, but you hear her voice: that’s me!” Seemingly overnight, she had gone from a visual performer to a commanding voice in a stadium packed with 20,000 people.
“[The Brooklyn Nets] entertainment department took a chance on me; they thought I was good, they thought I could do the part, and they were right,” she said. “Sometimes a career is created when someone sees a talent that you possess and says ‘this will be right for you,’ and you don’t even know if it will or not.” Love has since appeared at every home game, making herself an integral part of what has quickly become a prized Brooklyn hallmark.
“Sports unify a lot of people,” she said of the effect the city’s teams have on its inhabitants. “It’s one commonality that everyone has, no matter who you are, or where you come from. If you support that team, you guys have something in common and at that point you’re friends. It unifies a city, it unifies a borough, a town, a community, a block, a street.” Love has been a self-proclaimed Uptown girl since moving to New York, but just recently moved across the water to Jersey City.
“We like to call it ‘Beautiful Jersey City’ - BJC,” said Love with a laugh. “It’s one of my hashtags on Instagram!” Despite an unyielding love for work and play in the inner boroughs, a decade of the Manhattan rush can wear down most energetic multi-taskers. Jersey jokes aside, Love is one of many who find the short commute a worthwhile reprieve from the grind of city life. A far cry from the Miami girl who once wore orange and bright yellow, Love has now adopted the NYC all (or mostly) black uniform, and can rattle off her favorite spots with hardly any hesitation.
“Cafe Fiorello,” she said, naming an Italian spot in the Upper West Side, “I’ve been going there since I moved here. And Sugar Cane in Brooklyn. It’s a Trinidadian restaurant on Flatbush, right off the Bergen stop on the 2 train. It’s really small - that’s my after-the-game go-to spot. It’s amazing, the best food.” She also professes her love for Barry’s Bootcamp and SLT; For those more couch/bar/pizza inclined, SLT is another work out class offered in New York that stands for “Strengthen Lengthen Tone.” But between five mile runs and charity dinners, Love still has her indulgences, one of which she conspiratorially reveals.
“I like to sneak Chinese food into the movies,” Love admits with a cheeky smile. “Don’t tell anybody that!” (Oops, sorry.) With so many different jobs and ambitions, it’s hard to believe that Love even has time to eat sesame chicken in a movie theater.
“If I can do seven things in one day, that’s a good day,” Love said. Finding seven things to do on any given day in New York can be surprising and varied, even if it’s not all photo shoots and basketball.
“What New York has that you can’t find anywhere else is that energy,” she explained. “It’s something you can’t articulate, but you feel when you’re in the city. It’s an energy that cultivates artistry. You can feel it in the air, you can feel it when you talk to people. When you speak to people on the street, you talk about what their dreams are, what your dreams are. Then you realize that someone might be dreaming a little bigger than you, and it inspires your dream to grow. You say ‘I wanna do this’ and they’re like ‘Well have you ever thought about this?’ There are so many people with ideas from so many different influences. You come in a small town girl with a dream, and it’ll blow your mind when you realize what you were missing the entire time.”
Interview Exclusive Recap Edition No.11
Photography Sarah Kjelleren
Styling Renessta Olds
Make Up Artist & Hairstylist Marina Guidos
Ally love at Wilhelmina