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The Talk’s Akbar Gbajabiamila ‘Cold-Called’ Michael Strahan, Asked to ‘ShadowHis Hosting Duties: ‘He’s Inspirational

The Talk's Akbar Gbajabiamila 'Cold-Called' Michael Strahan, Asked to 'Shadow' His Hosting Duties: 'He's Inspirational'

Akbar Gbajabiamila is ready to make his debut on A conversa.

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.

CBS announced Thursday that Gbajabiamila will be joining the daytime talk series on the upcoming 12th season. His fellow co-hosts include Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots e Jerry O’Connell.

Gbajabiamila, who currently co-hosts Guerreiro Ninja Americano, 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 isthe 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,” ele lembra.

Seeking to learn from Strahan, Gbajabiamila reached out and asked if he couldshadow” a Bom Dia America hospedeiro, 49.

I just cold-called and said, 'Ei, você sabe, 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 wasoverwhelming but exciting and encouraging,” especially since Strahan isone of the coolest dudes on the planet and such a humbling, gracious guy.

Akbar Gbajabiamila, Michael Strahan

Akbar Gbajabiamila, Michael Strahan
Crédito: Getty (2)

He was just dropping me dimes, Assim como, nuggets here and there, here and there. And so I’m forever grateful for that time and that opportunity,” ele 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.

News of Gbajabiamila’s hiring comes just two days after Elaine Welteroth‘s departure following one season on the show. Carrie Ann Inaba also recently confirmed her exit after a three-season run.

As for O’Connell, he had appeared as a frequent guest on A conversa antes officially becoming a co-host em julho. He was a replacement for Sharon Osbourne following her controversial exit in March.

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Gbajabiamila is now using his time ahead of his A conversa debut to stay up to date on current news while also focusing onbeing more introspective.

Olhando para a frente, 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,” ele diz. “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.

Ele 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 [vai] realize that they’re not in it by themselves.

Provocando A conversa‘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,” ele compartilha. “Temporada 12 is a great number. Just think about that, Quero dizer, 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, eu 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, 'Ei, do what got you here.And this is what Tupac [Shakur] told her,” ele disse.

Temporada 12 do A conversa estreias em setembro. 13 na CBS.