VSU Alumni in Media: Ariel Hairston

Ariel Hairston graduated from VSU with a degree in Mass Media in Spring 2015.  While at VSU she founded the Her Campus chapter and served as the Campus Correspondent. She went on to start her very own online publication called Pashionistas in 2015. She is currently working on a comedy web series called Outlandish which premiered Sunday, November 27th.

Ariel was inspired to develp Pashionistas after her time spent as Campus Correspondent for Her Campus, "Although film is my ultimate dream, writing is probably still my strongest skill. But thankfully, this also lends to script writing, which I am able to do with Outlandish."

The site caters to feminists and has articles on the topics of race, gender, LGBT issues and politics. Pashionistas currently has had over 40 contributors and Ariel is planning a complete resurgence for the site in the new year.

After realizing the lack of diversity the media shows when portraying feminism, she decided to create Outlandish.

"I realized that TV and film have never seen a character quite like Leira. Most LGBT shows are extremely white-washed; the same goes for "feminist" shows. Very few possess a truly diverse cast. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure if there is a show out there with a queer black woman as the lead. I want to show people what it's like to be her, because they have never gotten the chance."

The series is centered around the character Leira (played by Ariel) who is a bisexual woman of color who moves in with two other women, Teagan Armstrong (played by Krystyna Struk) and Brooke Russell (played by Tina Prokas). 

"The series is meant to address the very issues a triple-oppressed minority such as the main character faces day-to-day. These white girls know what it's like to be a woman, but not what it's like to be black and queer. It's a script that all women can relate to, but all people can learn from."

Ariel enjoys being employed in the field of her choice, "It feels great! Don't get me wrong, it can be very discouraging at times, and that's where a great support team comes into play. But even if you don't have anyone rooting for you, go for whatever you want anyway; people will come around. Never settle for a job that doesn't make you happy. What I love the most about being my own boss is the control it gives me over my life."

She feels like the field of media is constantly evolving and isn't something that school can fully prepare you for. "It's a field that hands you a lot more losses than it will wins. But it is constantly making you better. You can't really learn and grow until you're actually in the field. In college, our professors told us 'it will be hard,' but everyone's experience will be different, so they couldn't really tell you how it would be hard. However, what I wish I would have learned in college is how I can make my own way in the field."

Ariel has some advice for current Mass Media students, "You will get discouraged. It's inevitable. Think about your favorite person in the industry. Whether they're a musician, director, or actor, they have all worried about whether or not they would succeed at some point during their journey. It's the nature of the business. You land a gig, you kill it and then you're out of a job again. Now you have to figure out how you can continue to get more gigs, and continue to exceed. It can overwhelm you. But you have to know that you are doing what you love, and as long as you love it enough, it will always love you back. Don't be afraid to venture out into new things, or fall in love with different parts of media. Your path to success may be different than the way you currently imagine it."

You can check out Pashionistas here and watch the pilot episode for Outlandish here! You can also follow on Twitter at @OutlandishWS and Instagram at @beingoutlandish.