Akbar Gbajabiamila is ready to make his debut on Il discorso.
“I’ve been playing team sports my whole life, and I’ve always thrived in a team environment. So this is great,” Gbajabiamila tells PEOPLE exclusively about his new role as co-host. “I’m so happy to be a part of this, in addition to this team.”
Gbajabiamila, who currently co-hosts American Ninja Warrior, previously made a name for himself in the NFL, where he played for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders.
And while he is now well-versed at being in front of the camera, Gbajabiamila previously sought the advice of another famous athlete-turned-TV host — Michael Strahan, who he says is “the blueprint for athletes transitioning into media.”
“We played during the same time but I never met him, never knew him. He knew my brother, but we really didn’t cross paths like that,” lui ricorda.
Seeking to learn from Strahan, Gbajabiamila reached out and asked if he could “shadow” il Buon giorno America ospite, 49.
“I just cold-called and said, 'Hey, sai, I love what you’re doing. I’m excited about what you’re doing. Can I shadow you?’ I remember meeting him at his — I don’t know what they call that in New York — one of those high-rise, fancy-schmancy condos. … Whatever it is, it was pretty fancy. I’d never seen anything like it. I met him early in the morning and we went from what he was doing with Kelly and Michael, and he then went from there to GMA. He allowed me to shadow him through the whole process.”
Gbajabiamila says the experience was “overwhelming but exciting and encouraging,” especially since Strahan is “one of the coolest dudes on the planet and such a humbling, gracious guy.”
“He was just dropping me dimes, proprio come, nuggets here and there, here and there. And so I’m forever grateful for that time and that opportunity,” lui continua. “We still stay in contact. I was just out there to visit him, maybe about two months ago, in New York and went out to dinner or whatever. He’s been very inspirational.”
As for O’Connell, he had appeared as a frequent guest on Il discorso prima officially becoming a co-host nel mese di luglio. He was a replacement for Sharon Osbourne following her controversial exit in March.
Non perdere mai una storia: iscriviti a LE PERSONEla newsletter quotidiana gratuita per essere sempre aggiornato sul meglio di ciò che le PERSONE hanno da offrire, da succose notizie sulle celebrità a avvincenti storie di interesse umano.
Gbajabiamila is now using his time ahead of his Il discorso debut to stay up to date on current news while also focusing on “being more introspective.”
Guardando avanti, he hopes to bring a different perspective to the table when discussing an array of topics, including relationships.
“A lot of times, the male perspective hasn’t always been presented in the best light and I think those opportunities when they do come up, I feel like I will have a lot to say,” lui dice. “I think part of it is being transparent. I’m very transparent about my own relationship, about my own life and about some of the things that I do well in relationships and the things that I don’t do so well, and the things that I have in common with men that don’t do things so well.”
Lui continua, “I think being able to have that 360 look at it and be able to have that conversation, and even have an open disagreement about some of these things on-camera in front of a live audience on national television. I think it’s helpful because people [volere] realize that they’re not in it by themselves.”
Teasing Il discorso‘s upcoming 12th season, Gbajabiamila says: “We are about to have a party.”
“We’re gonna have a very special group of people on our first show to kick off season 12,” lui condivide. “Stagione 12 is a great number. Just think about that, Voglio dire, this has been a staple on television for a very long time. So to be able to come in at season 12, with such a great thing, things are going to look brighter. Things are going to look, penso, sharp.”
He has also received advice from Underwood, 57, about how to best approach his new role.
“As I was going through the guest-hosting stuff, she just pulled me over to the sides and said, 'Hey, do what got you here.’ And this is what Tupac [Shakur] ma è così importante trovare il tempo per la famiglia,” Egli ha detto.
Stagione 12 di Il discorso primi sette. 13 su CBS.