Until her father Scott was elected to the senate last year, Ayla Brown was the most famous member of her family: A record-setting student athlete in Massachusetts and an "American Idol" semi-finalist in 2006. Now she's juggling a fledgling music career in Nashville and a regular gig as a special contributor to CBS's Early Show.
Brown, 22, is the latest in a line of attractive political offspring (Jenna Bush, Luke Russert) handed very plum network jobs reporting on youth issues. On Tuesday, she filed her first story from CBS's Washington bureau-- a look at President's Obama high school commencement challenge -- with her mom, WJLA reporter Gail Huff, on the sidelines. "I always get scared because she's such a professional," Brown told us. (Mom gave the live report a thumbs up, but said the Q&A "was a little confusing.")
Scared? Doesn't look it -- Brown's got the self-confidence of someone twice her age. Her poise was honed in eighth grade, after the star athlete gave an interview talking about herself instead of the team. Her dad decided some media training was in order: he pretended to be a reporter asking questions, teaching her the art of "absorbing the limelight and using it in the most positive light possible," she said.
The Boston College communications major landed the CBS gig before graduation last year. She appeared on the show to sing her newest release; her banter with the hosts impressed the executive producer, who offered her a job. "I told him, if he was serious, to write up a contract and I'd look at it" Brown said. He did, she did, and pretty soon she was on the morning broadcast.
She'll be on the air for at least another year; in the meanwhile, she just moved to Nashville and is working on both singing and songwriting. Journalism or music? "If I had an opportunity to sing for a living, I would choose that," she said.