Delphine Del Val runs one of New York's most lauded talent management agencies, Pool Creatives. Yes, I know, I know... as soon as I say "talent manager" you think middle-aged man yelling into a phone while eating sushi on a treadmill. Ok, maybe that's just me.
Regardless of the stereotype you may have, I bet you're not envisioning a young, softly spoken French woman. Delphine's feminine and smart approach to the women she advises seems to be the key to her success. Little did she know when she started in 2015 just how important an all-female agency would be.
With talents like Ara Kras, Garance Dore, and Brianna Lance, Delphine keeps her roster small and well curated. She really believes in every woman she looks after, and treats their talents holistically.
So in an environment of #metoo, #timesup, and #momsdemandaction, I sat down with her to ask: Can women use the "sisterhood" to help their careers too?
Firstly, tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Paris. Most of my family is in finance, but very early on my mom opened my eyes to art and my ears to music. My grandmother subscribed to fashion magazines and would keep them for me. I remember sitting on the floor at her house, very young, and being captivated. She used to say I like nice things!
I studied Art History and Communication/Marketing, was a fashion stylist for a bit, then became a photographers' agent, until I fell in love with NYC and moved, started over, didn’t know anyone, and never looked back.
You are NYC based now. It can be a very hard city. Do you think a female network is key to surviving there?
NYC is a VERY hard city. The pace is fast, the competition is hard. The best people in the world come here to work. It’s very easy to feel less than or inadequate. It takes a lot of time to find people, women, whom you can trust, relate to, share victories and failures with. But it’s essential. It’s very important to remember that with a few exceptions, we all feel the same pressure, we all need to share, we are all scared at times. I always make time to listen.
How did you come to set up Pool Creative? What were you doing before?
I was a photographer’s agent - in Paris, then in NYC. I loved my job. I loved working with talents, seeing where we were going together. Then I met Garance Dore and started working with her. Our world was changing. It was exciting: first digital, then social media, then brand collaborations. I saw an opportunity to work with talents differently, to create stories, products, events. NYC makes you feel you can do it...so I did!
Do you think it's harder for women to be taken seriously in the creative industries than their male counterparts?
Mmmmmm, I hate being the “women”... but yes, it is. At least until a certain age. Maybe when you're over 45 it changes if you have managed to stay super relevant, and an expert in your field. Certainly less than in finance or law firms but when you fight for something it comes off as being "sensitive” or “hysterical” even. When you get to a certain level, it’s a man’s world, and it’s hard to really be a part of it. What I see, more than not being taken seriously, is how past 45 it gets hard to keep growing. For the past couple of years I have seen many women fighting to keep their jobs.
Your roster is relatively small compared to other talent agencies. Is that so you are able to foster a deeper relationship with each of them? I know personally I'm lost in the sea at Next sometimes.
We do have a smaller roster because we are more agents/career managers than bookers. All of our talents have their own skills and need to be represented individually.
Do you deliberately only represent women?
Yes I do. I worked with a LOT of men in the past and made this decision consciously. First, it felt right with our times (2015 is when I started thinking about it, so pre-election). Second, I think women are more fluid and open to trying new things, collaborating, and communicating.
If you were to give a few pieces of advice to young women on how to utilize their female friends peers, and colleagues what would you suggest?