It’s not everyday you hear about someone going from personal stylist to actress on a hit BET show, but no one said anything about overnight success. Crystal Hayslett paid her dues by working in the costume department of Tyler Perry Studios and was promoted after two years to the studio’s costume designer and personal stylist to Tyler Perry. Under Perry’s close eye and wing, the Tennessee native received full support from the film maven himself to become a consulting producer and earned a guest star role in his latest hit show, Tyler Perry’s Sistas on BET.
Prior to landing her most recent claim to fame, Hayslett had her first speaking role in Matthew Cherry’s 2011 short film, This Time alongside appearances on BET’s The Game and Stomp The Yard 2. Today as a series regular on the hit show, Hayslett plays Fatima, a paralegal at a prestigious law firm who encounters love, friendship and work life complications entangled with other members of the main cast.
HelloBeautiful spoke with the rising Atlanta starlet about her role on Tyler Perry’s Sistas, her journey in fashion and costume design and how both of her careers as an actress and personal stylist have assisted one another in her professional and personal growth.
Tell me about how you first became interested in fashion and styling?
I’ve been a lover of fashion since I was a kid. There isn’t a mall in Martin, Tennessee so my family and I would have to travel to shop. I stayed abreast on the latest trends by watching TV shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World and 106 & Park and I also read EBONY, VIBE, Jet and Word Up! magazines.
How did you come across the opportunity to work with Tyler Perry Studios in the costume department and as a personal stylist?
I started working at Tyler Perry Studios in 2013 as a Production Assistant— grabbing coffee, running errands, running clothes to set – you name it, I did it! Over the course of two years, I worked my way up from PA to dressing the background, and eventually dressing first team (anyone who has speaking lines and takes direction directly from the director). During the summer of 2015 when production was on hiatus, I received a phone call offering me the job of costume designer, which also led to me being offered the position of Tyler Perry’s personal stylist. Accepting those two positions changed my life forever.
What are the most rewarding and interesting aspects of costume designing?
I love watching the evolution of a character from the pages of a script to the big screen. It’s always fun developing the look of a character; taking those visions that pop up in my head as I read the script and creating mood boards for each character is always exciting. However, the best part is watching how the styling translates to the character. When we conduct fittings, you can literally see the character come to life. It’s a really dope process.
What are the most important parts of deciding the costume for a character?
Costumes tell a story, so it’s always important for the wardrobe to reflect the characteristics of the character. The wardrobe should tell a story of its own and the audience should be able to learn something about the character based solely on how the actor dresses.
What did you learn from being a costume designer and stylist that is transferable to your career as an actress?
I learned the importance of separating Crystal from the character. You have to remove yourself and allow the production creatives to express and create their visions through you. Creatives take their jobs very seriously and as actors, we are here to perform, so we must allow them to complete their job, which is to bring characters to life.
How do you believe your styling career prepared you for your transition to a working actress in the entertainment industry?
I have had the privilege to be a student of this industry by working behind the scenes first. I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I understand the role and the load each department carries to pull off a production. I believe with this understanding comes an immense amount of respect and support for everyone we work with.
What can we expect from season two of Sistas on BET?
In Season 2 of Sistas you can expect to see more of what you loved in Season one. I’m excited for everyone to see the evolution of my character, Fatima. You’ll learn more about her past; she has an unexpected love interest; she’s still holding Andi down, but you’ll also see their friendship develop this season. You’re definitely in for a ride, so buckle up!