Recently Blogging The Boys was given an opportunity to talk with a member of the Dallas Cowboys executive management, Executive Vice-President Charlotte Jones Anderson. It was a chance we could not pass up. Although our conversation was not related directly to football, it was an honor to speak with Mrs. Jones Anderson about one of her prime responsibilities, overseeing the Dallas Cowboys brand and also the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. What follows is a transcript of my discussion with her.
Q: When you started working with the Cowboys, you were placed in charge of the brand, the intangible asset that identifies an organization and sets it apart from the competition, and given the instructions "Whatever you do, don’t tarnish the star". The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders area major part of the image that the organization projects to the public. In your opinion, just how much impact do the DCC have on the image of the Cowboys as a whole?
Jones Anderson: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a very significant part of what we do with the Dallas Cowboys brand. Much like the star itself, the cheerleaders have become a brand icon that everyone associates with our organization. They truly are brand ambassadors for the team, so whether they are making USO visits to our troops or holding a cheerleader clinic for local youth, they are the face of the Dallas Cowboys to everyone they meet.
Q: Under your guidance, the DCC have continued to move beyond the sidelines on Sunday and have become perhaps the most visible ambassadors of the organization. They are involved in many activities that bring credit to both themselves and the organization. What are your plans to continue and expand on this community involvement?
Jones Anderson: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a big part of what we do in the community. They serve as role models to so many young girls and deliver such a positive message when they are out in the community. We are constantly looking for ways to broaden their influence. The NFL has a big focus right now on health and fitness called NFL Play 60. Through this program, we hope to help tackle childhood obesity by getting kids active through in-school, after-school and team-based programs. The Cheerleaders are a big part of getting that message out, and serve as a great example of living an active lifestyle for our youth.
Q: It takes a special woman to earn a place on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ roster, and young ladies from around the world come to audition for the opportunity. Very few will eventually see their dream come to fruition. From your point of view, what does it take to earn a spot on the squad?
Jones Anderson: Passion. There are always a number of great dancers and talented individuals that participate in our auditions. Every year it gets harder and harder to make those final cuts when we are putting the squad together. One thing I always look for that sets women apart is the passion they seem to have for what they are doing. That is something I don’t think you can fake, it comes out over the course of the process and makes certain ladies rise above the others.
Q: Around the league, several franchises are facing legal action from members of their cheerleading squads. While you cannot comment on that for obvious reasons, those type of issues do not seem to occur in Dallas. The DCC have the reputation of being a professional, world class organization. Can you elaborate on the effort that is invested in developing and maintaining that culture?
Jones Anderson: We understand that everything we do with the Dallas Cowboys is very public. Being a part of such a visible brand certainly has its benefits, but it also comes with great responsibility. As such, we know we have to strive to do things the right way every time. Our fans have very high expectations of our brand, and we want to meet or exceed those expectations in everything we do.
Q: The CMT reality show "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team" will be entering its ninth season this fall. As one of those (formerly) young ladies who aspired to become one of 'America’s Sweethearts', I am fascinated by the look behind the scenes. Will you give us an insider’s perspective on what goes into what we see on TV?
Jones Anderson: Each year I meet internally with our Director of Cheerleading, Kelli Finglass and Judy Trammel, our Choreographer and we select additional judges to sit on the panel during the audition process. Since the standard of what we are looking for in a DCC does not change, the process of "making the team" is just as you see on the show. The show is literally the 'behind the scenes'. It's very important that it be REAL and AUTHENTIC and not contrived or scripted ... it depicts true adversity ... highs and the lows ... the struggles and the excitement. It’s very exciting to be a part of the selection process. There is a great responsibility attached to it ... we are selecting brand ambassadors for the Dallas Cowboys and we are, quite frankly, making or breaking these women's dreams. I can’t help but feel a little nervous for each of them.
Q: Continuing with that insider’s view, there is much more to the average member of the DCC than the fan sees. Many of these ladies are very well educated women with successful careers outside the team. Can you address the ways that "making the team" has helped these ladies to advance their professional careers as well?
Jones Anderson: One of our requirements is that every member of the squad has a full-time job, is a full-time student or is a mother, so this is not a career choice. This is about having a passion for cheering and performing for others and making a difference in the community. Just like our players have been playing football since they were little boys, most of these ladies have been a part of a dance team or cheerleading squad since they were little girls. This is an opportunity for them to continue doing something they love at the highest level. For those that want to continue on from here, it helps build a foundation that can catapult them on to other careers. For those that don’t, it is the opportunity to be a part of a team and create lifelong friends and memories.
Q: While we are on the topic of successful professional women, to an outsider you seem to be expanding your role within the organization as well. For example, during the recent NFL Draft we witnessed you in the war room. Are we beginning to see the signs of you (along with your brothers, of course) assuming more responsibilities in preparation for the eventual changing of the guard in the future? What do you foresee your role being with the Dallas Cowboys in the longer term?
Jones Anderson: I have been very fortunate to be able to work alongside my father and brothers after being recruited to this job 25 years ago. I don’t take that opportunity lightly, nor does anyone else in our family. We have been entrusted with a team that so many are passionate about, and our focus is on making those fans proud of the team we put on the field each week, both the players and cheerleaders.
The opportunity to speak directly with a member of the Jones family is a rare treat. I want to thank Charlotte Jones Anderson for the opportunity, and also to thank Alexa Orr of CMT Corporate Communications for helping to facilitate the interview. As always any errors in transcription are mine alone.
Be sure to tune in to CMT this fall to watch the next season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team. The work that these ladies put into their dream is every bit as intense and demanding as what the players give.
Season nine of "Making the Team" premiers Friday, August 8.