For many actors and actresses pursuing those careers in film and TV, Los Angeles and New York traditionally emerge as the top spots to move and endure the “struggle” for a shot on the screen.
However, there’s seems to be a new player on the block, with the rise of Atlanta as a new haven for the production of high-quality TV shows and multimillion film projects. After all, Marvel’s Black Panther — one of the highest-grossing films of all times — was shot principally at Atlanta’s EUE Screen Gems Studios. Its highly anticipated sequel Black Panther 2 will begin shooting this summer.
And certainly, a lot has also changed since mega director Tyler Perry’s conception of Tyler Perry Studios located in Georgia. That begs a question, “Is it better to move to Los Angeles or Atlanta for work?”
While opinions about the pros and cons of whether to stay in Atlanta versus Los Angeles or New York, perhaps those career decisions will always lie in the contingency plan of the pursuer.
Crystal Hayslett, who stars in Tyler Perry’s “Sistas,” found herself at this very crossroads a few years ago when she moved to Atlanta in pursuit of a career in music. “Sistas” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on BET.
As fate would have it, a stylist Hayslett was assisting her dropped an opportunity to work as a production assistant for Tyler Perry Studios in 2013. Hayslett’s work ethic garnered enough traction to elevate from an assistant to a costume designer over a short period of years.
“It was actually something of interest to me from styling and getting into acting,” Hayslett said. “I really wanted to learn so I would examine what the others were doing on set because they had already done projects before.”
The young actress touched on how her opportunity was not only a godsend but added encouragement to others about divine timing.
“You know what, it really all fell into my lap and the right people were aligned,” she said. “I didn’t imagine this part for my life but people need to know your testimony is supposed to inspire others, not condemn them due to differences.”
Hayslett’s character in “Sistas” as an ambitious paralegal Fatima has seen her rise in popularity outside of the actual main characters. Further, her tenacity and strength have not only created an interest in viewers but a breath of fresh air to the already placed storylines.
Though Hayslett’s story of being a stylist first for Tyler Perry in support of her musical interests has been rehearsed to others, it’s her conversation about her growing skillset that manifests a unique take.
“It took me a year to find an actual job in Atlanta when I moved here and I was trying to get money to pursue my dreams,” she said. “I auditioned for a lot of roles in Atlanta and simply didn’t get anything.”
“I think if you want to pursue acting in Los Angeles, you should if that’s in you and you want to work to live that lifestyle,” she continued. “But I won’t knock Atlanta because I was able to get some ‘success’ from this due to God and the right people. I really think it’s a matter of which one you can work to afford while pursuing your wants.”
She concluded that working for Tyler Perry has helped change her mindset and her work ethics take on new heights.
“When you’re around established people, it’s impossible for you not to learn and not have an interest in growing which is what we all need even when we think everything is ‘fine’ at the moment.”