In the searchlight: Michelle Matalon Delgado ’07
After seven years doing publicity work for Fox Searchlight Pictures, Michelle Matalon Delgado ’07 is comfortable taking the spotlight on her own terms.
Sitting Under the Oaks on a May morning eight years ago, Michelle Matalon Delgado found herself empowered by Kerrii Anderson ’79, the Commencement speaker that year.
As the former Wendy’s president and chief executive officer talked about the road from driving a school bus to becoming a CEO and the lessons she learned along the way, Delgado could not stop thinking about the journey she was about to start.
Just three days later, she was heading to Los Angeles to start a temporary job at 20th Century Fox—where she had interned the previous summer—which she hoped would become a permanent position. Like Anderson, the business administration graduate was ready to leave her comfort zone, take a risk and embrace new opportunities. And while that position did not turn into what she expected, it gave her a chance to continue developing connections that eventually opened the door for a publicity job at Fox Searchlight Pictures in New York the following spring. (That also gave her a chance to reconnect with her Elon roommate, who became her new roommate in the Big Apple.)
Seven years later, Delgado has risen through the ranks and gone from being coordinator of publicity and promotions for 12 main markets in the eastern region to director of that department, accumulating a lifetime of experiences along the way, including rubbing elbows with Oscar winners. “There are moments when you are doing things and you can’t believe this is your job,” she says.
While a lot of her work happens away from the limelight—fielding media inquiries, developing campaigns, overseeing radio promotions and setting up film screenings—her job often gives her a rare insight into the world of celebrities. She has worked on the campaigns for numerous movies including Slumdog Millionaire, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 12 Years a Slave, Wild and Birdman, which won four Oscars in February, including best picture.
Delgado happened to be at the company’s after-party in Los Angeles when the latter was announced. “It was absolutely crazy,” she says of the moment. “The whole place erupted in pandemonium. Soon people started walking in with their Oscars.” She even managed to snap a photo holding one of the statues.
Two years ago she also had the chance to work on a Beasts of the Southern Wild movie workshop for middle school and high school students hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Besides working with actors from the film, she developed the materials for the students and received a private tour of the White House. “It was an amazing opportunity,” she says.
Her work might not be glamorous all of the time, but for Delgado, moments like that are an affirmation of her work. “I had certain goals for myself when I started this journey in my career, and I am very proud and lucky to say that I have been able to meet each milestone,” she says. “I am fortunate enough to work with some of the best people in show business who have supported my career and encouraged my professional growth. I am definitely here to stay and feel comfortable in my role.” Not that she is not thirsty for more. She is determined to continue learning from those around her.
That’s another trait she and her Commencement speaker have in common. “Continuous learning has been the single most important factor in my professional career and in my personal life,” Anderson said in her 2007 speech. “Now is the opportunity to build on what you have learned, and what you may not even know you have learned. Elon has given us a great foundation, but it is up to us to continue learning.”
Delgado certainly has.