Image Credit: Rashida Gayle
Rashida Gayle is a 27-year-old Black woman breaking barriers as a sports marketer in a corporate space that hasn’t experienced her style of Black girl magic.
As Director of Talent Marketing for GSE Worldwide, Gayle recently became the first and currently, only black woman to independently represent both MLS and NFL athletes, based on data from the NFLPA.
In just 5 years, she has secured over $5 million in endorsement deals and off-the-field opportunities for clients.
In a business where you have to be astute, influential, sociable and savage at the same damn time, Gayle is built for branding and marketing and stresses financial literacy to her clients. She’s an undisputable rising star and pioneer as a sports marketer.
She spoke to The Shadow League about her journey.
Rashida Gayle: I think the elephant in the room is that I’m a Black woman and I’m young. That hinders…interferes with some of the success I could have had in the past. My age, my youth, my skin color, and gender aren’t common in this industry. So when I’m walking in and I’m the Director of Talent and Marketing and people look at me like I’m the assistant or I’m here to click the button for the next page on the presentation, that’s unfortunate. Discrimination is real in this industry but everyone has setbacks. They just keep me motivated… Just know what’s happening in people’s minds and address it.
— Devonta Freeman (@devontafreeman) August 2, 2019
Gayle’s perceived setbacks don’t seem to be stopping her bag as her team locked in its first MLS deal this month with Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez, now representing him for all marketing ventures. The two time MLS All-Star and MVP (2018) joins Atlanta Falcons Devonta Freeman, San Francisco 49ers Deebo Samuel, Baltimore Ravens Justice Hill, among others under Gayle’s roster.
Justice Hill ??? pic.twitter.com/wQmToIKFX3
— Boone Pickens State © (@BPSTATE_) August 9, 2019
Ground Breaking Deals
The marketing deals she cut for Martinez and Freeman can be considered groundbreaking in the business. Gayle doesn’t waste time delivering on her promise to her clients:
“Having someone who does this all day every day and not for 100 players, but for you specifically.”
Gayle: As soon as I signed Joseph, I secured a Grady Hospital partnership in Atlanta. This will be his first local campaign in the Atlanta area and that’s strange because he’s such a staple in the ATL community but he doesn’t have any commercials on TV outside of his Atlanta United brand commercials.
So this opportunity will allow him to have a commercial in the Southeastern region and I’m really happy about that because now people will see his face and because he’s able to take control of his brand by working with my company, you will see him a lot more.
Gayle: I also procured a Courtyard by Marriott deal for Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman and it’s still running on TV. It began running during the 2018 NFL Draft and runs quite frequently.
(In 2017, Freeman agreed to a new five-year, $41.25 million extension, making him the highest-paid back in the NFL at the time.)
That was a groundbreaking deal because it allows an athlete to be relevant outside of football season. You don’t usually see too many NFL players in commercials running during the offseason. I realized the impact it had when I was watching the NBA Playoffs and it ran. I was like Oh shit. That’s a big deal.
Gayle currently recruits and represents her own players. In an era where more players are separating their affairs, the talent marketer has built a cohort of marketable players with a “high ceiling” brand, who bet on Gayle’s expertise. As an independent entity, Gayle isn’t at the mercy of any contract agent, so she has the freedom to recruit her own players and develop her own relationships.
Gayle: It’s just all relationships. In the society we are living in today, branding and marketing is so important, especially with social media and being able to own your own brand and be authentic to who you are. So you see a lot of athletes really taking that on. Athletes like Odell Beckham and LeBron James are really doing amazing things in the marketing space, really taking on what it means to have a brand. A lot of players want someone to help amplify their brand.
Driven By Women Empowerment
The fourth of six sisters, Gayle was born in Jamaica and moved to the states when she was in elementary school. Her family lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the majority of her younger years. She insists that her educational foundation along with woman empowerment in the household were the driving forces behind her success.
Gayle: My mom is one of the smartest people I know. She speaks three different languages and has her Master’s Degree, she’s just a brilliant woman. She’s always pushed us to focus on our education, be diverse in what we do and know.
I was a football manager for four years at my high school and then attended FSU and graduated in 2014. It was a great experience because it gave me the ability to really find my career. The experience I received from working in the marketing office in the athletic department was invaluable. I did that for three years and it really allowed me to see that there was an opportunity to work with players and marketing all in one.
As Gayle continues her journey as a brand builder for high-end athletes and expands her clientele, she remains motivated by the careers of Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and LeBron James for obvious reasons. Their status on the world stage inspires Gayle.
“They are all successful and comfortable in their own skin. They all look like me.” Gayle told The Shadow League.
Not yet 30-years-old, Gayle’s already a talent and marketing force that, despite the obstacles, is blazing new brands and getting results.
Gayle: I really want to let other women in the industry know that things are possible and you can really create your own path. I think a lot of women end up working under someone but I want to show them that they can work for themselves and have their own relationship with their clients. That’s not common in the industry but I’m here to show them that it’s possible. I’m not done. I’m still trying to get more and accomplish more .”