The 2009 Oscars are fading to a memory, but the inspirational story of Oscar creator Hylda Queally has lingered with me. ?I was privvy to hearing the successful talent agent tell her tell her rags to riches tale at the Oscar Wilde: Irish in Film pre-Oscar soiree last week – where she was introduced by the living material proof of her career success: Oscar-wining Kate Winslet.? Hylda, who met Kate nearly two decades ago, is stylish and vibrant, and although she grew up one of a Brady Bunch of girls on a farm in Ireland, I could relate to the foundation she came from of parents who told her, "You could do whatever you want to do hunny," no matter how far-fetched her latest idea or adventure. The one that produced Kate started with a business built out of a telephone booth in Ireland .??Kate introduced Hylda by saying, "If you don’t know Hylda, then your world is far from complete."
Most people probably won’t have the privilege or meeting Hylda, but if you’ve ever seen a movie with Kate Winslet, Katie Holmes, Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Audrey Tautou or dozens more, you have been touched by her work. She accurately stated, “I’m like the United Nations of talent reps.”
Hylda met Kate Winslet when she was 31 – and Kate was 17. Hylda saw Kate’s first film "Heavenly Creatures" and flew to London to court her as a client. Kate recalls the Hylda of the late 80s as a girl "with a pixie haircut, big eyes who ate potatoes, lots of potatoes, an American that ate carbs, I couldn’t believe it. “ What apparently sold Kate on Hylda was not just the potatoes, but “her choice of bag.” Kate said she liked that Hylda carried a non-descript navy blue backpack rather than a gaudy name brand. Hylda later explained the reason for this is because she couldn’t afford anything else, but she didn’t tell this to Kate at the time and Kate said, “I thought this is someone I could relate to. There was room for two in that back pack, her and me.” Kate went on, “She trades sleep to read scripts, she’s created my career and changed my life. We’ve been through births, deaths and marriages, several births, several deaths, and in my case, two marriages.”
Ever humble, when Hylda took the podium to accept her award from Kate she said, “The last time I received an award was for Irish step dancing when I was 12.” Hylda, who grew up on a farm in Ireland the youngest nearly a dozen girls said her first taste of America was “?We got American hand me downs from my aunt in Florida.” She explained, “They had this American scent that we called the scent of America. I’ve since learned the scent is Downey fabric softener.??”
Hylda came the place that smelled like Downey with $300, two suitcases and lots of ambition. Today, she works at CAA where she is recognized as one of the most gifted talent agents in the business. She’s also an inspiration to anyone with drive and a dream 😉 xo