SSE and APA’s pursuit of Sylvester reflects the increasing connections between sports, entertainment and content production. Sylvester, 33, impressed reps at SSE and APA in part because he is in the midst of producing a short film series, “GO,” chronicling his travels around the world and his daredevil rides. Sylvester owns the series outright with his producing partner, BMX veteran Harrison Boyce. The “Go” movies, which bowed in 2015, have generated more than 10 million views on YouTube and other platforms.
Sylvester has numerous endorsement deals although he rarely competes in BMX tournaments. Having turned pro at 18, he now counts content production and talent opportunities as among his major goals.
“The unique thing about my career is that I have never focused on competing in contests,” Sylvester told Variety. “I’ve always focused on using content, social media and different partnerships to build my brand.” Filming the “GO” series in cities around the world — each episode hails from a different location — has whetted his appetite for what he calls “bigger content stuff — full-length features.”
Sylvester grew up in Jamaica, Queens and began riding bikes as a pre-teen. It started with challenging local kids to “pop a wheelie” and creating ramps with wood boards and cinder blocks. As he got older, Sylvester recognized the endorsement opportunities available to BMX competitors. He sees bicycle riding as a great leveler, given that kids with even the most modest means can obtain a bike.
“I’m a kid from Queens. The idea of using my bicycle to live out my imagination has always been my dream,” Sylvester said. “Over the course of my career I’ve been able to achieve some great things Nowadays with so many kids around the world having the aspirations of being a professional BMX rider, I want to do my part to pay it forward in the same way that great athletes before me opened so many doors.”
Sylvester met Chris Cabott, CEO of SSE, some years ago at an event in Times Square sponsored by sports equipment manufacturer Oakley. The two hit it off right away.
“I consider him a cultural influencer. Nigel has an incredible vision of how he wants to impact the world through sports,” Cabott said. “We want to help bring his vision to life through media and brand partnerships and content and philanthropy.”
The Sylvester partnership reflects the recent transaction that saw Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies take an equity stake in SSE. Yucaipa is also an investor in APA. Jim Osborne, president of APA, said signing a client like Sylvester is an indicator of an area where APA sees real opportunity outside of traditional Hollywood movies and TV shows.
“For us, it’s a great marriage of Steinberg Sports and SPA taking an icon in the BMX world and bring him into all of today’s content opportunities,” Osborne said. “Nigel represents a very unique market that is underserved in terms of storytelling. That’s the slant that our agency is taking in finding content creators with unique stories to tell.”