Monday, December 28, 2015

Elaine del Valle >

Elaine del Valle, Actress, Producer, Director and Writer, Interviewed by Laura Rosado

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
I had a strong desire to pursue my passion seriously and the notion that I could achieve my goals.

What inspired you to start your business?
I started Del Valle Productions after writing a pilot. It was over 16 years ago. I wanted to shoot it and I wanted the protections and benefits that were offered by a corporate status.

How did you finance it?
I filed the corporation documents myself. The fees were minimal. I used my savings accrued from working as a commercial actress to fund my projects.

Does being Hispanic/Latina have any influence on your business?
I find being Latina has more and more of an impact on my business as time goes by. I didn’t begin my journey with a mission to create Latino work and represent the culture, my mission was more personal…but as a Latina I found that representing myself became symbolic of my culture and gender.  My industry quickly told me the need for Latina leadership…I used all of my strengths to find a niche. For me that was the understanding of my own culture, my industry and the Spanish language. 

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to drive ahead?
I remember where I came from and how far I have come. I remember that every opportunity is a gift and that no matter what the outcome— a learning experience exists within every scenario. Your critics might make you upset, but once you get over that, you can look at their critiques more objectively and that ends up helping your process, much more than hurting it. I use rejection as incentive to better myself.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Each part of my business has its own challenges.
When it comes to casting and production the biggest challenge is getting through the door, getting new clients to use my casting and or production services. I find it easy to maintain clients because I pride myself on delivering the best experience at competitive prices.
With production, the biggest challenge was handed to me when a producer I teamed with failed to meet their responsibilities…It set me back many months in revenue as I felt that I had to compensate for their failure—I would not let the Del Valle Productions name be associated with failure to compensate its independent contractors in a timely manner. I learned lots from that experience—perhaps most that I need to control the finances and hiring when it comes to production.

If you could change one thing about your business. What would it be?
There’s nothing I could think to change that I am not actively working toward.

What was your childhood ambition?
My childhood ambition was to be a lawyer. I wanted to be defending the right side, making an impact on my community.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire.
Oprah Winfrey because she built an empire, is an absolute female FORCE and continues to help others to grow.
My husband, Al Eskanazy because I watched him grow his business and always do what was right for the company and its employees. He leads with pragmatism, kindness and intelligence. He writes everything down, keeping a diary of every conversation so his recollection of meetings and the fulfillment of specific goals is impeccable.
Elisabeth Kleinhans, the owner of 59E59 Theaters because late in life she fell in love with theater and decided to dedicate her life to helping stage plays be off Broadway. 59E59 Theaters is the best 501c3 theater company I have known…it does so much for playwrights and artists.

For business meetings, which do you prefer: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
It’s not the time of day that matters to me, but rather the place. I prefer to meet at my Private Arts Club in Manhattan. It's a beautiful private arts club (with membership offered to people in the arts and entertainment industry) housed within a Manhattan townhouse. The club has a fantastic ambiance, mission, staff, owner and chef. It's comfortable, hospitable, relaxed, quiet and impressive. I find it a conducive environment to building long lasting relationships.

What sacrifices in your personal life did you have to make in order to become successful in your business? 
For me, the biggest sacrifice is time with my family…I am always working. I love my work and so I don’t suffer from it but my family does. I try to pick up the phone every time my daughter calls but I find I am always in the middle of something and can’t focus on her needs as much as I would like to. I was never the Mom who coddles. I feel it has made my daughter self sufficient and shown her that she too can accomplish anything within her vision. She is now a college graduate who owns her own business.
All of my prep is done from my home office but when I am on site during a production or casting, I am the first one in and the last one out…my husband understands that but is happy when the production is complete. I make sure not to fill my calendars in the days that follow that, so I can make more time for my family and home responsibilities as a wife and homemaker.  When I give myself the day off, I say “Today I am Mrs.”. It is a life that I enjoy and appreciate.

What is your favorite quote?
It’s from Margaret Thatcher “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's a day you've had everything to do and you've done it.”

Is it difficult to be unconventional? 
I have never thought of myself as conventional or unconventional. I grew up as a Latina in Brownsville Brooklyn. I never fit in, ANYWHERE. My mother was one of 11 children, they were each unique, yet similar, and acted as a very strong UNIT. As a result of that, I am able to adapt to any setting and feel comfortable and strong in my own skin. I have learned that I can trust my gut, and adapt without losing myself. I know my presence is strong.

Biggest mistake made?
Too many to mention. Personal and professional. One of the biggest was never finishing college. I didn’t know enough to believe in myself. Where I was raised graduating High School was a big deal and so my bar was set too low. I work hard to raise the bar for myself, my family and community now. There is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
No. My colleagues treat me as if I am an innovator, but I feel that I am an example of a regular person working to meet their own potential. I hope that when people look at my accomplishments they see them as possible and probable and that they, too, can accomplish their dreams. One foot in front of another. Begin and never stop…no matter where you get, you are further along than where you started.

About the Company: 
Del Valle Productions Inc. is a full service, bilingual film production and casting company that offers services from concept to delivery. Our mission is to infuse entertainment with Female and/or Latino driven truths, insights and perspective, through original programming and its use of talent in front of and behind the camera.
We cast and or produce commercials, theater, print, voice over, web series, live events and film.


Twitter @brownsvillebred
Instagram @delvalleproductions
Facebook @Del Valle Productions and Casting


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