Sports journalist and author Rich Westcott and his youngest daughter, film and television costume designer Amy Westcott, don’t have a favorite team playing in Super Bowl LVI.
But Rich and his wife, Lois, will watch the game at their Delaware County home, while their daughter and her family watch in Brooklyn — mainly to catch the debut of a Chevy truck commercial with a cast clad by Amy.
Spoiler alert: It’s not that viral Chevy Silverado truck ad starring Walter the mail carrier-terrorizing cat.
“I love that business!” said Amy, who in the last 25 years has designed costumes for movies such as black swan and TV shows likeand The Many Saints of Newark. She’s dressed performers in ads for Taco Bell and Dr Pepper too.
She can’t say much about her Chevy ad for the big game — the concept, cast, and even the costumes are hush-hush until airtime.
Her dad, meanwhile, was happy to offer details about the start of Amy’s career.
“I can remember when she was 6 years old and making doll clothes and I thought, ‘What the heck is she doing?’” said Rich, sitting with his daughter in the living room of the family home in Springfield Township. He and Lois also are the parents of a son, Chris, and daughters Susan and Laura.
“Lois and I are very proud of all of them,” he said. “We’ve got a great group.”
With a vestigial but still indelible Delco accent (the real thing, not the Mare of Eastown version), Amy said her father came to understand her devotion to doll couture.
By the time she was 12, “I asked him what I could do when I grew up, and he said I could do something” with clothing and fashion, she said.
“It was mind-blowing to me, that he believed I could do that. Later, when I had started working in films, I understood that it was a huge risk and hand-to-mouth for many years, because he was a freelancer and was used to that lifestyle,” she said. “It’s funny. He was always heavily involved in sports, but he had to find his way into writing about sports. I was very into fashion, I got a degree in fashion, but I had to find my way into a career where I could really use that skill.”
The fact that father and daughter managed to succeed in careers they love is a testament to talent, luck, pluck, and hard work.
Rich grew up playing baseball in Roxborough and was a promising Drexel University pitcher when he got sidelined for good by a shoulder injury. A fraternity brother who edited the student newspaper, the Drexel Triangle, suggested Rich write about the sport he loved but could no longer play.
“I told him I had no idea how to cover a game, and he said, ‘You know the coach, you know most of the players, you know how the game works, and we’ll help you,’” said Rich, then a marketing major.
“The first time I was ever in a journalism class was years later, when I taught one at Temple.”
In the 1960s, newspapers were thriving, the Westcott family was growing, and Rich got a job as sports editor of the Germantown Courier and the Main Line Times, weekly papers owned by the same company. “I got paid $50 a week,” he said, “plus $5 a week for expenses.”
He later became a full-time sportswriter at what is now the Delaware County Daily Times and would go on to work full time at trade publications and freelance for other publications such as The Inquirer. A recent column he wrote for the Daily Times expressed his outrage about Dick Allen, the pioneering Black Phillies player, being snubbed yet again by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rich’s first book, The Phillies Encyclopedia, was published in 1984. Since then there have been 26 more, most of them Phillies- and baseball-centric. In the 1980s Rich also founded the biweekly Phillies Report, publishing, editing, writing, and selling ads for it out of his home office/baseball journalism shrine until he sold the publication 14 years later.
Rich is still at it: His latest book, Amazing Phillies Feats, was published last year. He’s also active with the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame and with other advocates for a long-proposed Philadelphia Museum of Sports.
“I don’t want to quit. If I quit, the next day they’ll be sticking me in the ground,” he said. “And I don’t want to sit in a rocking chair watching TV all day.”
That’s not Amy’s style, either.
“He inspired a very strong work ethic with us as kids,” she said. “When we were growing up, the first day of summer was always, ‘So what are you doing for a job?’ Mom and Dad knew you had to scrap. They taught us how to scrap. And they were always supportive.”
After graduating from Syracuse University and struggling to break into fashion as a designer in New York — she described Seventh Avenue as “a horrible fit” — Amy got a chance to work as a costume-design production assistant on a movie shoot in 1996. film was Cop Land: It had a heavyweight cast, including Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro, got good reviews, and launched Amy’s career in costume design.
She went on to earn a solid reputation for her work on The Squid and the Whale and other indie films, which helped her get a long-running costume-design gig for the TV series Entourage. It was about four young dudes trying to make it in Hollywood, a task Amy accomplished herself with black swan as well as her work on movies like The Wrestler and Nightcrawler.
“The Wrestler is probably my favorite” project, she said. “We created that whole world.”
That 2008 movie was shot in Philly, which gave Rich and Lois an opportunity to visit the set. “We wound up as extras in one of the shots,” said Rich. “We went out for dinner that night — which was the time for Amy’s lunch break!”
Amy, who has two children with her husband, Mark Mylod, a producer and director of Successioncredits her mother with teaching her to sew.
“I’m very tickled with all my children,” said Lois, a retired teacher who taught home economics at schools in Philly, Norristown, and Fort Washington for 32 years. “We had fabric around and did fun things with it. Amy had lots of good ideas. She and I made a dress, it may have been for the senior prom, and with Amy it always needed to be not only not off the rack, but fun and special and different. It was a strapless red dress. A conceptual thing.”
Lois, who also taught Amy how to cook, said her daughter groomed herself for success. “Most kids, you buy them activity books. She made her own activity books,” said Lois.
For Amy, the creative work of costume design always begins with the script.
“It starts with the words,” she said. “I read the script and read it again. I want to understand how I can contribute, and facilitate the actors in painting their characters with what’s the right paint for them.”
As for the long hours and endless details involved in creating a movie, TV show, or a Super Bowl commercial, her father’s writing career has been a model, she said.
“I have worked all the time. We could hear the click-click-click of the typewriter,” she said. “You meet new people all the time in his business from him and mine. Like a constant conversation. It’s been a theme in both of our careers.”
Amy said her father also taught her to take advantage of opportunities.
And to make her own.
“That’s what she’s done,” Rich said. “The career she has is a perfect fit.”