If you’ve ever scrolled down any social media feed, you’ve probably seen the classic meme of two men buried underground, both digging their way toward a pile of diamonds. One man gives up and turns around just as he’s about to uncover the treasure, while the other, still with a long way to go, remains persistent. The man who decided to give up will never know how close he was to success.
This is the meme Crystal Hayslett recalls when she thinks of her journey to success. The Tennessee native moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2010 and worked her way up from Production Assistant at Tyler Perry Studios to costume designer to the personal stylist of the billionaire director himself. All the while, Hayslett never wavered from her original passion for acting. She continued to perfect her craft and eventually got the film mogul to view her audition tapes. Hayslett landed a small role on the hit show Sistas, and after just one season, she was upped to a series regular and co-lead with her character Fatima. Today, Hayslett’s character has a spinoff series titled ZATIMA, and the actor is just getting started.
Read on as Hayslett shares her career aspirations, how she’s learned to cope with newfound success, fashion tips she’s learned as a personal stylist, and more!
Your slogan on social media is, “if ‘had faith’ and ‘made it happen’ were a person,” and your career trajectory has been an amazing exemplification of that. How does it feel to look back on all your years of hard work and see that it has indefinitely paid off? What advice would you give to someone currently on that years-long journey who doesn’t know when they’ll see that light at the end of the tunnel?
First of all, it feels amazing, and I’m truly blessed. It’s been such a tremendous ride to see where I came from and to see where I am now. Everything that I’ve ever dreamed of is coming to fruition, and it’s just a beautiful thing. I would tell someone who has been pursuing a dream and just feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel that I’ve been there, and I feel like every person has a big dream. When God plants something inside of you, you have to go through a valley. Everything is not going to be perfect, and the journey will not always be uphill, but once you reach that position that you’re striving to get to, you will have a greater appreciation for it.
It wasn’t always easy for me, and anything that is worth having is always going to be preceded by hard work. If everything was easy, it would be fleeting by as fast as it came. So I tell anybody, just keep pushing and know that even when it’s dark, you have to keep moving forward. Even when you get to that point of feeling like, ‘Oh, I can’t do this anymore,’ is when you should push even harder.
Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a massive life-changing period, we really don’t see the transition that’s happening around us because we’re moving a mile a minute. How has that drastic life change been for you and the people closest to you?
It definitely has been an adjustment. As you said, you don’t realize how much your life is changing. I’m always aware and cognizant of where everyone is in my life, and sometimes you have to be mindful of what you share because certain people may not be in a space to accept that and genuinely be happy for you. It’s important to know your friends, know your associates, and always be thoughtful when it comes to your progression.
Sometimes you have friends that show how proud of you they are, no matter where they are in their life, and sometimes you have other people who aren’t happy with their lives, so it’s harder for them to accept your success. But I will say that I do not feel guilty about my success. I worked my butt off to get to where I am today — everything I prayed for, everything that I ever wished for — I worked for it. I feel like it would be a slap in God’s face for me to feel any type of way for everything that he’s blessed me with; I honor the blessings and pay them forward when I can.
Outside of acting, you also juggle a busy schedule as a consulting producer on Sistas and content creation for brands like BMW, Diageo, Pantene, and CIROC. You also are a part owner and investor in various companies and properties. How do you prioritize your wellness and carve out that much-needed time to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul?
My body will definitely tell me when it’s time — I don’t know what it is about me working out, taking time for meditation and prayer, and just being still — but my body will let me know when it’s needed. I’ve learned to be more in tune with my body because I’ve realized that in order for me to operate at my highest level, I have to put those things first — I have to prioritize my workouts, my diet, and my alone time because where I am right now in life, I have so many people relying on me and so many things that need to get done.
When you have a busy schedule, you have to block out increments of time for yourself and then have those times when you can focus on business. But one thing I always remember is that life is fleeting, and I never want to look up one day and like, ‘Dang, I achieved all this, but I’m worn down because I wasn’t taking care of myself.’ I don’t want that. So wellness definitely has to be a priority — it’s something you just have to make time for.
The fall season is upon us, and winter is steadily approaching. With your background in costume design and work as a personal stylist, what fashion trends are you eyeing for the fall season?
I’m a tomboy, so I love oversize pieces. I did New York Fashion Week this year, and I wore an oversized Alexander McQueen blazer with a pair of Tom Ford see-through sweatpants — it was all like men’s wear, and it really fit my personality. So I’m really excited to see the oversized looks and also the beautiful colors and silhouettes that the designers are making. I love fall because of the layers. Everything is a statement.
The biggest struggle for us women is learning what kinds of clothes and cuts look best on us and not succumbing to the pressure of social media to dress a certain way. It’s refreshing to see someone like yourself be confident in your style, take risks and be able to have fun with fashion. What advice would you give to someone struggling to find their personal style?
If you’re struggling to find your own personal style, I would look at different fashion figures. My favorite people in fashion right now are Elly Karmoh — he styles Steve and Lori Harvey — Kahlana Barfield Brown, and Claire Sulmers. They’re always letting me know what’s in, what’s hot, and what’s not. I would also say to try to find someone with your body type so that you can admire the pieces they wear and get ideas from that. Then from there, start to create your own looks.
Knowing what makes you feel good is also important. I always dress up based on how I feel. Nine times out of ten, I’m in a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants — that’s just me being comfortable and chill. When it comes to stepping out, I like to kind of show my body a little bit. Then other days, I may want to be a little more conservative. So I think it’s good to base your looks on how you feel and let it be an expression of who you are. Your clothes speak before you do when you walk into the room. They represent who you are and let people know what’s going on before you even say a word.
What’s next for you? What projects would you like to work on outside of the Sistas universe, and who are your dream co-stars?
I just filmed a Will Packer movie starring Chloe Bailey. Tina Gordon was the director — shout out to Will and Shayla from Will Packer Productions and Universal for allowing me to be a part of this movie. It will come out in the spring and you’ll get to hear me sing. So that’s a plus.
I definitely want to do more films. I’m excited to actually get to spread my wings in that area as well. As for co-stars — I’m going to keep saying this because I know one day it will happen — I would love to work with Damson Idris. That scene he did in Snowfall where he was talking to himself — he can act his behind off. I would also say Idris Elba, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, and Kerry Washington — I would love to work with Kerry. She’s so freaking talented. There are so many people that I would love to work with.