An Interview With Edward Sylvan
I’m very passionate about horses and Brooke USA raises funds to support programs for equines. The money goes towards ensuring working horses, as well as donkeys and mules, are healthy and happy. Aside from animal welfare, which is important, having healthy working equines helps families who depend on those animals to help them earn a living.
Asa part of our series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hope Arellano.
At just 19 years old, Hope Arellano dominates the polo field. The 4th generation polo player is one of only a handful of field-blazing women proving that you can earn a living and add ‘professional’ to your polo resume. At the age of 14, she became the youngest woman to win at the Women’s Polo Championship and today Hope is the highest-rated women’s American player and a Global Brand Ambassador for U.S. Polo Assn., the official clothing brand of the United States Polo Association (USPA), the oldest governing body for the sport of polo in the country since 1890.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to your career path in professional sports?
Iwas nine years old when I fell in love with the game. My dad, a third-generation polo player, was the highest-rated American player for a very long time. I loved riding with him and my family, spending time on the polo field, and time with the horses. My mom really has been my rock and poured all her love and support into me and my two brothers, Lucas and Agustin. At the age of 14, I became the youngest female to win the top-rated women’s polo tournament in the United States. I’ve had so many great opportunities to play at the top level and have so many people to thank, especially my dad, who is often my coach and the coach to some of the highest-rated players in the sport. Being a polo player is a truly a dream and the sport is something that I love to share, I became a Global Brand Ambassador for the official brand for the sport of polo, U.S. Polo Assn., so others can see the beauty and I can continue to share this love globally. I feel honored to be partnered with a Brand that gives so much back to the sport that we all love.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What were the lessons or takeaways that you took out of that story?
The sport of polo is unique in the sense that many people play into their older years, which allows for several generations of family members to play together. I was 12, and we played as a family in one of our hometown tournaments. It allowed us to truly connect as a family on the field. This experience was my most memorable since my dad is no longer playing, as his primary focus is on coaching. Our team was underrated, and we still won. That’s one of the things I love about polo is that no matter your rating, you’re still able to compete with the best and have an opportunity to do well.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Set your goals and once you’ve achieved them, look back and appreciate everything you’ve learned. Even if it wasn’t the easiest lesson to learn, appreciate that you had that opportunity to look back, and be proud of yourself. Then find another goal and work just as hard for that one. Continue to push yourself every day because it’ll be worth it in the end.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
As I mentioned before, my mother is a huge part of my success on and off the field. Her love, dedication, positivity and support push me to be my best. She shows up even when I can’t and helps me every day to exceed my goals. She literally is with me every day, she helps get the horses to the field, she drives me long distances to compete at opportunities that are sometimes last minute, she educated me through homeschooling and she is literally on the sideline holding my spare horse and rooting me on, in her very quiet way of course. The love of the game is only part of the love for the sport, the biggest are the animals and my mom is always saving animals in need. Anyone you ask would say she’s the most hard-working and selfless person.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about what it is like being a professional sports player?
It is very common for people to say polo is “The Sport of Kings”. Although polo has many beautiful glamorous moments. What most don’t see is the community that it takes to play this sport. This sport requires strategy, training, preparation which equals long hours and hard work practicing on the field, tending to the horses and I’d be remiss to leave out the barn duties, which is like having a second house. To play at the highest level, there is a lot of coordination that goes into just getting to the field and then you have to show up there too. The real heroes are the horses and guys working at the barn everyday. It isn’t a 9 to 5 job, nor do you get a full day off. They work so hard to ensure the well-being of the horses! It takes a lot of work to be able to have your horses and yourself playing the best!
Ok super. Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I try to help in any way I can. I don’t find that I use my success in helping as much as I help with anything that I feel strongly about! At 10, I beat my goal of $10,000 for The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust by asking for donations on the sidelines. Today, I’m an ambassador for Brooke USA, which supports equine welfare programs, and I play in charity tournaments for various causes like ocean conservation.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
I will play in charity games whenever I’m available, even beyond Brooke USA. For example, recently I played in a game where proceeds were generated for ocean research and conservation. Each year Brooke USA begins the planning process, I work with them to understand the best ways to share the stories and get people involved with the important annual initiatives. The polo community is very supportive of each other, so when possible I lean on partnerships to support the initiates that I feel are most important to me. The relationships are the #1 and then getting the messages out.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Well, I’m very passionate about horses and Brooke USA raises funds to support programs for equines. The money goes towards ensuring working horses, as well as donkeys and mules, are healthy and happy. Aside from animal welfare, which is important, having healthy working equines helps families who depend on those animals to help them earn a living.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I have lived the polo life forever since my dad played the game. The opportunities afforded are incredible because you get to travel and meet people around the country and the world. The hardest part is when you are young you have to work to balance School and playing and you don’t have a lot of extra time. We don’t live normal lives that lends to hanging with friends. We spend a lot of time preparing for the game so early mornings and late nights at the barn.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To be kind to everyone and speak for the animals that can’t speak for themselves.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
They are a few quotes that I live by. Here are two.
(1) Work hard in silence and let your success be the noise.
(2) The best way to predict the future is to create it.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
There are so many different people that I look up to! Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, and the late Kobe Bryant. All of them are such incredible athletes that one could learn a lot from!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring
About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.
In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.
Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.
With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.
At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.
Also in 2020, Sylvan launched SEGI TV, a free OTT streaming network built on the pillars of equality, sustainability and community which is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S household televisions and 200 million mobile devices across Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others.
As Executive Producer he currently has several projects in production including The Trials of Eroy Brown, a story about the prison system and how it operated in Texas, based on the best-selling book, as well as a documentary called The Making of Roll Bounce, about the 2005 coming of age film which starred rapper Bow Wow and portrays roller skating culture in 1970’s Chicago.
He sits on the Board of Directors of Uplay Canada, (United Public Leadership Academy for Youth), which prepares youth to be citizen leaders and provides opportunities for Canadian high school basketball players to advance to Division 1 schools as well as the NBA.
A former competitive go kart racer with Checkered Flag Racing Ltd, he also enjoys traveling to exotic locales. Sylvan resides in Vancouver and has two adult daughters.
Sylvan has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and has been seen on Fox Business News, CBS and NBC. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.