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Recent film and TV projects also under the Boardroom umbrella include the Academy Award-winning Two Distant Strangers (Netflix), the critically acclaimed scripted series SWAGGER (Apple TV+) and Emmy-nominated documentary NYC Point Gods (Showtime).

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Watch the Throne: A’ja Wilson is Coming for Everything

Last Updated: May 21, 2024
Vinciane Ngomsi
Written By:
Vinciane Ngomsi
Original Photography: Ryne Belanger

It’s a quiet day at the Las Vegas Aces training facility in Henderson, Nevada. The court normally reserved for practices and scrimmages for the reigning back-to-back WNBA champs has been temporarily transformed into a photoshoot and interview set.

At the center of it all was A’ja Wilson, whose two bronze MVP trophies she won in 2020 and 2022 were on full display on one side of the set-up.

“Marie for Most, Valerie for Valuable,” Wilson responds when asked if she’s named her hardware, pointing to each trophy individually. “If I get another one, it’s gotta be Penelope for Player,” she smirks.

On the other side of the set is a throne perfectly fit for the queen of Vegas, where Wilson sits surrounded by a team of hard workers who make her job easy. Her stylist, hairdresser, and makeup artist are all around her, fixing her look after every few camera clicks while her team from Klutch Sports Group is also on hand for support. Blaring through the speakers is a carefully curated playlist of Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Victoria Monet, and other Black female musicians successful in their own right.

For lack of a better word, the vibes are immaculate, and we haven’t even sat down for our conversation yet.

Custom suit by 831 Minh Le adorned by tailor, Ashya Shanell; Shoes from Wilson’s personal collection.

When we eventually do so, Wilson is donning the second look from her photo shoot with Boardroom: a custom-made hot pink pantsuit and rhinestone-covered bralette that came together when she arrived on set hours before. The competitive drive that A’ja Wilson fans are used to seeing on the court is still there, but the happiness exuded on set and in her glow-up era can be attributed to one thing — money.

“Money does change,” Wilson tells me with a booming laugh. “Money can buy you a whole lot of things, which can make you happy. When you get some dollars, it can make you holler.”

As the familiar saying goes: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”

If you look at how Wilson’s life has changed since entering the league, it’s clear that it has afforded her some of life’s finer things. However, her ability to afford a plush lifestyle shouldn’t overshadow the work she has put into getting to this level.

Her embrace of challenge has defined her career and, in turn, has resulted in an outcome most of us would only dream of achieving in retiring our parents. As someone with an equally healthy relationship with her mother and father, asking Wilson how she’s repaid her parents for their sacrifice elicits a rare moment of seriousness during our 50-minute conversation.

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“I don’t even think there are enough tangible things that I could do to repay them for how much they’ve sacrificed for me, how much they love for me,” the 27-year-old says, holding back tears. “My dad says, ‘I’m living my dream watching my daughter live hers.’ So every time I step foot on that court, every time I’m seen somewhere, I have to shine because I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams, and I’m my parents’ dream.

“The least I can do is share with the world because those are my heartbeats. They give, give, give. So the only tangible thing I really did for my mom was retire her so she could be around me more. With my dad, I think just playing the game that he loved and played is a gift itself. So, that’s why, every time I play, I play with so much passion. Y’all going to get this work.”


If you’re going to recite all of Wilson’s accolades, you better have time.

Wilson is entering her seventh season in the WNBA as a two-time champion, Finals MVP, two-time league MVP, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, among other accolades, that only solidify her as a top player in the league. Despite me likening those feats to pure domination and the standard for Hall of Fame acceptance without ever lacing up for another game, Wilson promises the Aces aren’t finished lining the practice facilities with more championship banners. (For those curious, Aces owner Mark Davis said he has enough for 16 banners to be hung from the rafters.)

“Those two had to probably be the hardest championships that I’ve ever had to compete [for] because the WNBA is a league that is full of just elite women. We focus so much on our craft that it’s you’re getting the best of the best, the top of the top. So to finish No. 1 is truly amazing.”

Despite the top talent among the rookie class gracing the W this season, the Aces are still the current favorites to go back-to-back-to-back and win the 2024 title. Wilson acknowledges the team is now used to having a target automatically on their backs, but that only incentivizes her to play better than she did years prior.

Her role isn’t to add pressure because it’s already there through the media, fans, and social media. Instead, she remains focused on maintaining the already harmonious rapport inside the locker room.

“I’m very particular about who we even allow in our locker room because that’s how sacred it is to me,” Wilson said. “I love that my teammates hold me accountable on things, but at the same time, they allow me to grow. They allow me to make mistakes, but they always check me. I feel like we do that to each other. Sometimes, we got to get checked. And that’s the most respect that we have.”

As for the funniest and most honest person on the Aces roster? Wilson says Sydney Colson, who just happens to be five feet away watching our conversation. “She’s someone that is going to be my ride or die. She’s someone that’s going to really hit me in my chest and be like, ‘Remember who you are.’ And that doesn’t get talked about a lot because it’s not on the scoreboards and in the stat sheets, but those are the locker room pieces that you need.”

Las Vegas has already proven it is the team to beat, and Wilson assures more hardware is coming so long as she’s on the team. So that begs the question: Are we witnessing a dynasty in the making?

“Yeah, I feel like we are,” Wilson confidently says. “We’ve got to win a lot more for me to say yes, we’re a dynasty. But yeah, I think we’re definitely forming a legendary locker room. When we look back on this, and there’s another growth in the W and people looking back, they’ll be talks like, ‘Y’all remember them, Las Vegas Aces,’ and you’re going to know exactly who they’re talking about.”

Debating the best women’s basketball player ever to play is an exercise that is equal parts fun and difficult. Wilson’s personal GOAT, Candace Parker, announced her retirement after 16 years in the league and a third career championship with the Aces.

At the rate she’s performing, Wilson is on track to equal or surpass the record for most Finals wins. Calling her a GOAT while she is still playing is a little premature, so Wilson prefers to use the term “GOAT-in-Training,” heavy on the in-training.

“I would love to have my name mentioned in conversations when you’re talking about the greatest women’s basketball player ever to play. But in my eyes, I still have a lot more I have to do to even be in that conversation,” she admitted. “I feel I’m only letting people see pieces as I’m getting throughout my career, and I’m like, just wait until I’m really trying to get there and work towards that.

“Right now, I’m having fun with it and love what I do, but I still feel like I have so much to give. I worked my butt off to get to that point, but I still feel like I have a long way to go to even think about it.”

Akira Lace-sleeved Jacket; Ofuure Corset; Namila // Ivy Showroom pants layered over Nike shorts; 2018 Union LA x Air Jordan 1 Retro High NRG ‘Black Toe’ Shoes

‘Don’t Blend, Never Be Average’

A’ja is never satisfied. When it comes to winning, that is.

She has always been a tempestuous force, a lifetime disrupter, and a master of turning doubt into a source of energy — all characteristics of setting the standard for excellence if you ask me.

Wilson first clocked this mentality of always striving for more while playing for Coach John O’Cain at Heathwood Hall in Columbia, South Carolina. She maintained that mindset while staying nearby at the University of South Carolina to learn from legendary coach Dawn Staley, both on and off the court.

“When I got to college, Coach Staley was like, ‘Don’t blend, never be average,'” Wilson told me.

Until now, we’ve largely focused on basketball and Wilson’s playing career. But how A’ja carries herself off the court is a testament to her unforgettable personality and desire to make people feel seen.

Earlier this year, Wilson dropped her debut book, “Dear Black Girls: How to Be True to You.” In this literal love letter to Black girls, Wilson uses honest lessons and inspiring anecdotes from her own life to create a safe space for girls who may be experiencing similar tribulations. The novel became an instant New York Times Bestseller and allowed fans a rare peek inside the life of one of the sport’s most prolific names.

Throughout her success, Wilson points to Staley as a catalyst for her growth as an athlete and as a Black woman. As we spoke, Wilson and I discussed how we both recognized early in our lives that we exist in a society that commonly discredits our success. Staley knew this, too. In the run-up to South Carolina’s national championship, Staley implemented social media bans to protect her players from the faceless warriors and other shameless critics spewing racist vitriol online.

“She allowed me to be me,” Wilson recalls. “She allowed me to be sad. She allowed me to cry. She allowed me to be happy. It was never a moment where I felt uncomfortable around her because she was like, ‘No, I want you to be open. Tell me about your problems. And I don’t think we get to be that a lot as Black women. We have to put on that super cape and be like, ‘I’m here to stay, and no one can shake me.’ Don’t get me wrong, we’re great at that. But sometimes your crown kind of tilts and you need someone to adjust it for you. Coach Staley was that for me and I think that’s what allowed me to grow into the young lady that I am today. My parents did an awesome job, but I’m so glad that they kind of let that leash go and allow Coach Staley to take me under her wing and say, ‘This is how you can be a professional, but don’t lose yourself.'”

Wilson’s heightened sense of self is something she justly prides herself on. Regardless of whether you’re interviewing her post-Aces win or while running errands, you’ll always get the same A’ja. During the Columbia, South Carolina, stop of her book tour, Wilson stayed behind, signed every book, and took photos with every attendee that afternoon. It was a four-hour undertaking, but Wilson tells me she’d do it all over again.

“It was like I didn’t have to dribble a basketball to be seen or heard, but obviously, I used my platform for that. Young Black girls were coming up and hugging me, and they were like, ‘You’re real!’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I am!’ Those moments never get old, and South Carolina’s going to always stand up and show out for your girl, and I always appreciate them for that.”

There’s a lot of discourse around what makes a player marketable. In Wilson’s case, recent online debates have pitted her against fellow peers regarding relatability. I marvel at her attitude when I ask whether she internalizes the feedback because it’s enough to send any thick-skinned person into a life of recluse.

“I have no idea why people don’t think I’m marketable. It could be a million different reasons, but I honestly don’t know,” Wilson said. “But what I do love are the people who do think I’m marketable and my lovely sponsors that really rally behind me and make sure that they push me to the forefront and show me in my truest form. The ones that know how to take on a young Black girl in the league who is trying her best and how to uplift her in various spaces. I have an amazing team around me with my agency that’s like, ‘No, let’s continue to push you out there. Let’s have your face be seen. Let those young kids have something to believe in, it’s my main goal. Is that marketable to some? Yes. And those are the ones that I’m focusing on.”

‘What is Delayed is Not Denied’

On April 17, Wilson posted a Bible verse from her X account: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” — Psalm 37:7. Presumably, in response to the outcry as to why she hadn’t received a signature sneaker from footwear sponsor Nike yet, Wilson calmed her frustrated supporters with this verse of solace.

Image courtesy of Nike

Wilson tells me she deleted the X app from her phone moments after posting that, so she truly didn’t see the engagement. Nevertheless, she was appreciative of everyone who responded with words of encouragement. What her 203k followers didn’t know is that a signature shoe had been in the works with The Swoosh for months. As she has repeatedly said just over the course of the afternoon: “What is delayed is not denied.

“When this moment comes, just know that it was me,” Wilson said. “I did this, y’all are getting my project. Obviously, it took a team to help put it together, but at the end of the day, you’re getting something that I don’t take lightly because I know it is very rare for people like me to be in these positions. So, when I am taking my seat at those tables, know that it is not just about me. It’s going to be for others, the ones that laid the foundation down for me to get here. I’m going to make sure that it doesn’t have to take a minute for this next generation, but it’s coming, and I’m not going anywhere.”

The standard might not be what everyone has in mind for her, but A’ja Wilson has always moved at her own pace. Behind the 6-foot-4 power forward is a drive to connect with others through her skill, and that’s how she predicts her legacy will play out.

“Obviously, I want to win. Obviously, I want to be great at everything,” Wilson said. “But when it comes to on that other side and when I take that jersey off, you still know the human that I am and what I stood 10 toes down on, and the one that shifted the culture and had everybody raise that eyebrow around. That’s my legacy.”


Head Stylist: Amadi Brooks
Styling Assistant: Jaxx Ramirez
Tailor: Ashya Shanell
Makeup: Regina Craig 
Hair: Myesha Jamerson

Creative Director – Michelle Lukianovich
Producer & Director – Audrey Blackmore
Senior Video Producer – Craig Newton
Interviewer / Writer – Vinciane Ngomsi
Story Editor – Griffin Adams
Photographer – Ryne Belanger
Head of Video – Andrea Masenda
Head of Social – Yoni Mernick
Head of Editorial Operations – Bernadette Doykos
Web Developer – Brett Aiello
Head of Audience Development – Jon Wiener
VP, General Manager – Nate Loucks
CMO – Sarah Flynn
Co-Founders – Rich Kleiman & Kevin Durant

Vinciane Ngomsi

Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.

About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.