Edward Sylvan of Sycamore Entertainment Group, Inc. – Inclusion and diversity are not relegated to the sidelines as in the past. The conversation is no longer about ‘should we,’ but ‘how can we?
I had the pleasure of interviewing Edward Sylvan.
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. He is also a contributor to Thrive Global magazine. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Can you share with us your background and the background behind Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc?
Born and raised in Toronto, I attended York University where I studied Economics and Political Science. I 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, I decided to reorient my career to focus fully on the entertainment business.
While working in the film business, I noticed filmmakers of color struggling to raise capital, so I began to leverage my background to provide them with ways to finance creative endeavors.
This is also what led me to build the business that is now Sycamore Entertainment Group, [SEGI] which we took public in 2010. Sycamore specializes in financing print and advertising, marketing, acquisition, and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures. We acquire, produce and promote films about equality, diversity and other thought-provoking subject matter, including nonviolent storytelling.
What is the vision behind Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc?
Our vision at Sycamore is to offer the best in filmed entertainment about equality, sustainability and community, and to assist in shrinking the wealth gap. We promote financial literacy to underserved communities that do not normally participate in the stock market by allowing content creators to share in the growth of Sycamore through stock ownership.
What do you think makes the Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc Brand stand out? Can you share a story?
In late 2020, we launched SEGI.TV, an OTT streaming network built on the pillars of inclusion, equality and community. It is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S. household televisions and 200 million mobile devices through Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others. This is not just another streaming platform. It is an ad-supported, on-demand streaming service with movies and television programming for a diverse audience. SEGI.TV taps into the changing cultural environment, A New Culture, where we are as much a lifestyle brand as we are a streaming service. We offer merchandise, real-time audience engagement, and access to our work processes—and all without a traditional subscription.
This vision for a streaming channel was conceived with the understanding that diversity has to be addressed in a way that feels supported. As a brand, we must successfully walk the talk of inclusion, equality and community.
We have put together a team dedicated to the art of community building. Our community (#segination) is unique, vocal and discerning. They know what they want and ensure that we hear them. As the catalyst to the growth and success of SEGI.TV, our followers in essence are the brand. Our followers, subscribers, and investors—everyone interested in the service—are family, and because of that we ensure transparency and connection are front and center of all we do.
Can you share your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion within your company? Can you tell us more about them?
To begin, our leadership at SEGI.TV needed to be diverse. The SEGI.TV team includes a mix of genders, races and ideologies. To ensure all voices, viewpoints and perspectives are heard, our team must represent our values of equality, sustainability and community.
The selection process for programming is our attempt to promote diverse and inclusive content for viewers. We understand the importance of proper representation and recognize the influence we wield as a business. We embrace this role with honor and respect.
Inclusion and diversity are not relegated to the sidelines as in the past. The conversation is no longer about ‘should we,’ but ‘how can we?’ Brands that wish to sustain prominence in the future will need to involve the many faces of the society they serve, offering a richer experience for all.
At Sycamore and SEGI.TV, inclusion and diversity make up the foundation of all we do. From substantive ways to lighthearted ones, you will see inclusion and diversity in our brand ethos, our programming, and our merchandise.
Is the brand working on any exciting new projects now?
Yes, we are excited to have signed a multi-year deal as the premiere sponsor of the Chip Ganassi Racing team for the ExtremeE race series beginning April 2021 in Saudi Arabia. This electric vehicle race aligns perfectly with our sustainability pillar. The series moves through locations across the planet adversely affected by climate change providing us an opportunity to highlight environmental issues, and with all the excitement and reach of motorsports—but using only electric power and leaving behind the smallest footprint possible.
Where do you see the Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc brand going in the future?
In future, The SEGI.TV brand will produce exclusive original content true to our core pillars of diversity, sustainability and community—content for the New Culture, as well as developing technology to further assist in owning our niche in the OTT streaming space.
How can our readers connect with you and Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc on Social Media?
Readers can connect to us through the following:
Email: [email protected]