Ayla Brown Profile
Ayla’s not entirely self-made, though: She was born with looks and talent, to parents with professions where looks and talent are recognized, cultivated, and celebrated. On one hand, Ayla’s confidence is typical of a recent college graduate who has the freedom to test-drive a career; she has been afforded the luxury of security. But she’s also a girl who has been raised, since she was small, to expect to be the best at what she does. Extraordinary is all she’s ever known.
As Gallagher says, “There is no question that she was built to handle the spotlight…. Ayla is at her best when the most possible people are paying attention.”
AYLA WAS 10 WHEN HER FATHER first took her to a karaoke bar. “My parents knew I had a good voice when I started singing before I could even talk,” she says. “My first-grade teacher called home and said, ‘Ayla won’t stop singing in class.’ I thought I was Ariel from The Little Mermaid.” When she was 8, she auditioned for Zoom, the PBS kids’ show, but didn’t get the part. At 15, her father took her to meet with music producers in New York. “Dad basically called them and was like, ‘Whatever artist you have, I believe my daughter’s better,’” she says. From a young age she was an unabashed Daddy’s girl. “We’re like two peas in a pod,” she says. “We were inseparable.”
Where Ayla really excelled, though (to her father’s delight), was sports: basketball, cross-country, and softball. She played varsity for all three starting in eighth grade at Noble and Greenough. On weekends, she played Pop Warner football for a local boys’ team in Wrentham, or she’d tag along with Brown to his triathlons and pickup basketball games. “My dad pushed me all the time, always challenged me, always made me work out,” she says. “I loved it and hated it at the same time. My mom was the mediator. If she thought my dad was pushing me too hard, she would step in, but…I loved that connection we had. It was our time.” (“Listen,” Senator Brown says. “You can’t force someone to get off the couch and work out. That comes from an inner strength, and Ayla’s really always had that. When she was born, she had the cord wrapped around her neck. She had to be torn out with the forceps.”)
Her sister, Arianna, two years younger and now a sophomore at Syracuse, was more “free-spirited,” like their mom. Ayla never understood Arianna. “I always had this inner drive to compete, and I didn’t understand why she didn’t,” Ayla says. “When I watched her play basket-ball and she wasn’t taking it as seriously as I did, I kind of blamed her for not being focused or determined. It took many years for me to understand that she was focused and determined in other aspects of her life, like school.”