Style & Substance: Stephanie Filo Jones

XWHY interviews Denver Broncos Cheerleader come Film and TV editor Stephanie Filo Jones…

Name: Stephanie Filo Jones

Location: Los Angeles, California

Occupation:  TV/Film Editor

Twitter:  @stephaniefilo

Let’s just say this: writing a dating profile for Stephanie Filo Jones would not be an easy task.

A former NFL cheerleader, turned film editor, who is a board member for a Sierra Leonean girls’ empowerment charity…who also happens to love old-school video games and horror movies.

This girl is a reality – not the creation of some Weird Science prequel script. Trust.

Stephanie Filo Jones Denver Broncos Cheerleader

Having spent a fair bit of time as a Denver Broncos Cheerleader, how did the Superbowl defeat this year make you feel?

Heartbroken!  It was a difficult game to watch.  I think that everyone just expected it to be a much closer game than it was, but sadly it wasn’t.  Seattle played quite a game though, and their win was well-deserved.

I was (and still am) very excited that we could see them make it so far – the last time they made it almost that far was the AFC Championship game in 2005-2006, my last game as a Denver Broncos Cheerleader.  That was also a very emotional game.  But, they’re still my team no matter what!

American sport is as much about the off-field entertainment as it is the game, what was it like to be part of the spectacle?

It was a very surreal experience and so exciting.  Showing up every Sunday, knowing you’re going to perform for 80,000 people – not just 80,000 people, but 80,000 fans, was unreal.  Knowing that I’m forever a part of the Broncos legacy will always be really cool for me.

Stephanie Filo Jones

Cheerleaders are ingrained in American iconography, but how did you find other women reacted to you, in a post-feminism era?

What a lot of people don’t realise, is that the Broncos (and other NFL teams) have a rigorous audition process for their cheerleaders. To make the team, you have to have a full-time job or be a full-time college student.  The audition isn’t only dancing.

You get interviewed – they ask you personal questions, and they ask you football-related questions. Over the course of the season, you do hundreds to thousands of hours of charity work on behalf of the team. To make the team, you have to be a very well-rounded woman, not just somebody who looks good in a uniform. Every one of those girls has exceptional qualities.

I’d say that goes above and beyond breaking any negative cheerleading stereotypes. This being said, other women were always very supportive, and I can’t say I personally ever had any issues with other women because of it.

Stephanie Filo Jones XWHY Magazine

Dancing is a career that is as demanding mentally as it is physically, what did you learn about yourself?

I think dancing taught me just how strong I am, mentally and physically.  People don’t understand just how tough dancing is on a person’s body – forcing yourself to push through despite the broken toes, sprained ankles, various physical ailments, and the need to maintain an ideal dancer body while doing it all. Not to mention the strict technique and discipline required, all while making yourself look graceful!

Dance definitely gave me the discipline and work ethic I have today, and got me through many difficult times.

What would you say has taken over as your biggest passion since you stopped dancing?

Probably what I do now, Video editing.  Or just TV/Film in general. I’ve known I wanted to be involved in TV and film since I saw Aladdin as a kid.

How did you get into it after your other careers?

I think I was in the right place at the right time and happened to mention my interest in editing to the right person I guess, because they were looking for another person to help out on their documentary. So, my first real Post-production job in LA was as an Assistant Editor on a French documentary.

I was offered the job while I was working at Smashbox Studios, so I would work at Smashbox during the day, and on the documentary at night. From there I was able to find other Assistant Editor jobs and luckily quickly worked my way up to Editor.

Stephanie Filo Jones XWHY Magazine

Has editing effected your ability to just watch TV and Film and enjoy it for what it is?

Yes.  100 times yes.  I can almost never handle watching reality TV, because most of the dialogue you hear isn’t real – it is pieced together from anywhere it could be found. I can hear all of the hacked-up dialogue underneath it all. But when something is done well, it makes me ecstatic!

What’s the strangest thing a man has ever said to you?

In an elevator going to work one day, a man gets in and kneels down.  I think he’s going to tie his shoe, but nope. I am sorely mistaken. “Girl, your feet is so pretty. Can I kiss your toes?”

My response was of course “Please don’t.” I cowered in the corner and bolted out of that elevator as soon as I could!

When people think of California, people still think of “The O.C.” and its beautiful cast, are you going to shatter the illusion that it’s not all beaches, mansions and attractive older women?

I wish I could shatter it for you, but those people really do exist.  However, LA is like 100 miles/160 kilometres across, so on the plus side, there are also many many other types of people here as well. Yes, LA is full of weirdos on fad diets, getting botox and whatnot, but if you look past those things you can find a lot of really cool people. They can just be tough to spot behind the huge lip injections sometimes.

Los Angeles is a city where talent goes to be realised, does it ever get a bit much being constantly surrounded by artists?

Yes. Often. A lot of attention-hogs, a lot of narcissism, a lot of selfies being taken (I literally just saw a guy taking a selfie while pretending to eat a doughnut). A lot of people think they have that “special something” that will make them famous, and will go to great lengths to tell you all about it, whether you’re listening or not.

Being in this business is all about who you know, so there are a lot of people who try to lay on the charm if they think you can boost their career in some way. But it is also the nature of the business. If you go into an audition room and you’re surrounded by a group of people who look just like you, you’re bound to be a little competitive and self-absorbed, trying to make yourself stand out from the rest.

Don’t let this dissuade you, though. Not everyone in LA is like this.  If you don’t want to be around those types of people, you don’t have to (and luckily I rarely am).

Where do you still have a massive desire to travel to and what would your traveling book of choice be for the trip?

I’m still dying to see a whole lot of places! Japan, Nepal, and Norway are up there on the list. My book of choice varies, but at the moment I’m going to have to go with The Watchmen, or any Alan Moore book.

What is Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone (GESSL) and how did you get involved in it?

GESSL is a two day summit for Sierra Leonean girls – filled with many sessions aimed at building self-confidence and peer relationships, teaching the girls practical skills that can be used in their communities and day-to-day life, and it also serves as a chance for these young girls to meet and learn from successful young women mentors.

My involvement with GESSL came through my connection to one of it’s founders, Liesel Renner. She is also the founder of another wonderful program in Sierra Leone called The Visão Foundation.  She and Moiyattu Banya (founder of Women Change Africa) conducted a needs assessment and saw a genuine need for a program that will educate and empower Sierra Leonean girls.  It was from this realisation that GESSL was developed, and I do have to say it is my favourite part of the year!

Please visit if you want to learn more about it/get involved/etc!

GESSL Sierra Leone XWHY Magazine

Would you say the role of women has changed from your mothers generation to yours?

Yes, I assume very much so. I think there are many, many more opportunities for women out there now, opportunities that probably weren’t apparent or available then. There’s still a way to go, but I think the world can accept much more readily now that women kick ass.

And that I am capable of doing anything a man can do, only better if you’ll give me the opportunity to show you.

How has the duality that comes with being of mixed heritage influenced and effected you?

Being from differing cultures definitely has an ongoing impact on me (and other mixed people, I assume).

My hair is and will always be a tangled ball of insanity.

But seriously though, I always had the issue growing up where people would expect you to pick one side or the other, or the ‘constant “Are you adopted?” question from other kids when they’d see my mother pick me up at school.
But what people fail to realise is I’m equally two things. I can say I’m just as much Norwegian-American as I am Sierra Leonean. I think this issue is probably a bit different there in the UK, from what I’ve seen, people are at least recognised as mixed-race there. Years ago, my sister and I were so excited when we first saw that British Airways has a safety pamphlet with a mixed-race family in it!

In the States, I’ve only just recently seen my first interracial family in a TV commercial (which got a huge public backlash because people were offended), but up until then, it’s like people have failed to acknowledge that we even exist. In TV and movies, you’ll see a mixed-race kid with two black parents. This is fine, just inaccurate, and growing up I never had someone who was like me in that way who I could relate to. Look at Denise Huxtable (The Cosby Show) or Hillary Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) for instance…you expect me to believe that the Huxtables/Banks’ produced them?

All this being said, I think being mixed-race is a blessing. Having a unique heritage and look forced me to be comfortable with myself from a much earlier age I think. Having parents from cultures that are on the opposite sides of the spectrum allowed me to learn to be much more adaptable and easygoing in general. I can claim two cultures as my own and that’s pretty damn cool.


What would you like to say to the future you about life 10 years from now?

Stop.  Breathe.  Take some time for yourself.


Who runs the world?


New Kids on the Block or Backstreet?


Best horror film ever made?

Halloween or The Omen (but this changes every week)

Reeses pieces or Oreos?

Oreos (Secret snack hack:  dip your Oreos in peanut butter.  You are welcome).

George Clooney Batman or Michael Keaton Batman?

Adam West Batman.

Idris Elba or Chiwetel Ejiofor?




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