Ariel Hairston Creator of Outlandish
Have you watched the first episode of Outlandish? Of course you have! If you haven’t you are sooo missing out, tighten up!
Ariel Hairston, creator of Outlandish, was kind enough to share her experience creating this hilarious and quirky web series. If you’re into film, you’ll love hearing what this 23-year-old ATLien has to say about her experience with the production biz!
So, what does your experience in the field of media and production entail so far?
I graduated summa cum laude from Valdosta State University with a BFA in mass media. It was in college that I learned exactly what I wanted to do in life, which is film. Immediately after college, I landed a job as a news editor for a station in Tallahassee, until I realized it really wasn't what I wanted to do. It just wasn't creative enough for me. So shortly after, I moved back to Atlanta and became a freelance videographer, filming and editing for other people, until I decided to create my own work.
What led you to creating your web series Outlandish?
I've always had an interest in TV and script writing, I just didn't exactly know how I was going to get into the field. But a few years ago, I discovered how popular web series are. Now, you can win an Emmy for a web series. So about a year ago, I started talking to people about my ideas for a web series, but no one was really interested in partnering with me, so I kind of just let the idea go. Thankfully, a friend of mine in LA named Venk drilled in my head that I didn't need help. I didn't need affirmation. If I wanted to do it, I should just do it. And I think it took someone believing in me enough to tell me that to encourage me to just go for it.
Without giving too much away, how would you summarize what this series will be about?
So Outlandish is about a bisexual woman of color who moves in with a straight white girl who absurdly thinks she's connected to black culture, and her best friend, who is also very white and very privileged. As the series progresses, it will deal with the complexities of being a black woman who is a part of two communities which don't always accept her (the black and LGBT communities). It's a series we've never seen before, mainly because the lead character is nothing like we've ever seen before. I think this is what makes it stand out. And it's a comedy, so hopefully it'll make you laugh, too.
Who do you think could relate to the story that this series tells?
I think everyone can, to some extent. It will be very diverse and very real, and I think we can all find a part of it to which we connect. Black women will probably relate the most, and hopefully straight people in general will learn the most. White people will receive their fair share of lessons as well. The only way someone can learn is if they can relate in some way.
What are some of the challenges you have faced trying to get this project started? How were you able to push through them?
My biggest challenge has probably been myself. I think I get in my own way sometimes. Many of us have these preconceived doubts about our own talents, oftentimes well before we even put them to work. But thankfully I've had very supportive people in my corner who believe in what I want to do and support me, so it has been pretty easy for me because of that.
What has been the best part of this experience?
The best part so far has been the feedback. I've asked for very honest feedback, and it has been given to me. But it has been overwhelmingly positive. People who I haven't spoken to in a long time have called and texted to congratulate me. I also think the gratification you feel knowing that you've accomplished something you've always talked about is one of the best feelings.
For any women reading this interested in entering this field of work, what you tell them?
If someone asks you what your greatest characteristics are, let at least one of them be your resilience. Because this field is tough. And I don't know how credible my advice is because I haven't made it yet, but I can tell you that the best way to do it is to just do it. Put your fears and doubts aside and just go for it. You have nothing to lose. And do it while you're still young. Now is the time. I wish someone would have told me about all the opportunities I have. In school, we were only taught how to work for someone else, on someone else's production. And while that's definitely knowledgeable information, I wish we were also taught how to create our own work, how to market ourselves and work for ourselves. Because it's definitely possible. Issa Rae is a great example of that. Create your own stuff, don't wait for anyone else.
What do you see for yourself looking forward?
So I'm hoping to pitch Outlandish to different networks in the future. Ideally, I want to complete my first season first and build necessary connections, but that's what I foresee happening. I also have an online publication called Pashionistas, of which I am the Editor-in-Chief. I want to continue growing that platform. My ultimate goal is to be a director, hopefully for something I've also written. I think writing is my strongest skill, so as long as I'm doing that in some form, I'm okay.