I’m excited to introduce you all to the latest lovely lady to be featured in a Hustle Profile here on Hustle & Flo…Carlie Craig! Through Hustle Profiles I hope to highlight hard working, passionate and entrepreneurial young people, particularly women and find out how they balance jobs, side projects and life. So follow along to find out more.
Carlie is an actress, singer, comic, impressionist, dancer, editor and occasional rapper I had the pleasure of calling my sister in KKG at Florida State University. I know that actors hone their craft over time, but this girl has seriously always been hilarious and she still manages to crack me up on a weekly basis all the way from Los Angeles, through the videos she posts on social media. Carlie has been doing some really exciting things in the past couple of years and she is someone I have been hoping to highlight on Hustle & Flo for a while, I’m so happy I can share her amazing accomplishments with all of you!
Have you always wanted to be an actor?
I have. Probably from the second I could talk, I was imitating voices in animated movies, memorizing lines from them and even reenacting scenes as I watched along. I’m sure my mom has hours of home movie footage.
When was the first time you considered yourself an actor?
I was cast at eight years old as Mary Poppins in a summer camp production and it was the first show I had ever performed in where I had my very own “solo”. It was kind of a big deal to have your own song in a show, at least to the campers, so I was super nervous but totally pumped. I remember vividly stepping into the spotlight to sing my song and I was like wow, I’m a big deal. This is a big deal. It wasn’t but it felt like it. I think after that I paraded around at family gatherings proclaiming “I’m a woman of the stage!”
When did you decide to seriously pursue acting as a career?
I have always considered myself an actor but once college graduation came, the time you seriously decide what your next step will be, I said, “Ok, I can either play it safe or play to win. If I have put in all this work for the past fifteen years, it’s time to go for it one hundred percent.” Ten days after graduation, I moved to Los Angeles and definitely don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. I love it here.
How did you or do you balance acting and your passions with paying bills, rent, etc?
It hasn’t always been easy, but I have been living the freelance life for about two years now. Any kind of work I do, I try to make it something creative. Even if it lends itself to that only a little bit. Between acting jobs, I’ll work as a production assistant on random sets, Todrick Hall’s assistant, manage Todrick’s tour, edit reels or web series’, and on the weekends I occasionally perform at kid’s birthday parties as a party princess. I do whatever it takes to make everyday filled with creativity and play. Luckily so far I have been able to make this work and hopefully will continue to do so!
Tell me about how your projects have evolved. Are you working on different types of projects now than when you were first starting?
Yes. When I first moved to LA, I worked as a production assistant in an office for an amazing reality TV company full of FSU Alums called Renegade83. I learned so much from that experience that when I met Todrick I was fully equipped for assistant duty and also ready for a creative change. Now that I wasn’t tied down by a 9-5 schedule, I was able to start auditioning and also act in Todrick’s videos. Working on the MTV show this past year was an incredible experience and gave me a better understanding of what goals I want to achieve in the next couple years.
A lot of your acting is comedy, including your stand-up, tell me about that. How did you land on comedy?
I love making people laugh but that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to do some serious roles in the future. I was Class Clown in high school and have always been one to crack jokes to lighten the mood…. I just love everything about being able to change someone’s entire day just by being clever or running into a wall or doing a silly voice.
What are your favorite types of projects to work on (stand-up, theater, tv, etc) and why?
I love performing in any scenario, but I am slowly but surely falling madly in love with stand-up comedy. I grew up in Theatre so I love performing for an audience but it is very different. It took a minute to get over the change; with theatre you can’t see anyone in front of you and you are playing a character but in stand up you are one hundred percent yourself and most of the time you can see everyone in the room. I would love to move to NYC and be on Broadway one day, but for now stand-up gives me that live performance fix.
Where do you find inspiration for your stand-up?
My stand-up is mostly inspired by my experiences in the party princess world, the voiceover world with a hint of college. Lots of everyday encounters in Los Angeles lend to the comedy as well, but my act is definitely centered around my celebrity impressions and “princess” life.
Who or what would you say has been your biggest influence?
My master list of influences is as follows: Steve Martin, Jim Carrey, Amy Poehler, Lucille Ball, Dick Van Dyke, Wayne Brady and Carol Burnett. And Kristen Wiig obviously. I’ve listened to many audio books and podcasts about their lives, anything that clues me into how they got where they are. Each of these performers are not only talented, but all have paved their own way by trusting their instincts, being humble in their talent and being kind to people; all values I admire. They also happen to be hysterical.
What is your favorite or most special to you project?
Honestly, my favorite project was working on Todrick Hall’s tour, The Toddlerz Ball, this past summer. Being a co-manager of the tour with Chester Lockhart, who was also on the MTV show, was incredibly rewarding. It’s an indescribable feeling to look back and say, “Wow, we booked those venues, we made that happen.” This year we did nearly thirty shows and traveled to the UK with it! Performing in the show this year was particularly special because Todrick gave me so many opportunities to showcase my voice, whereas last year’s tour, Twerk Du Soleil, was mainly rooted in acting for me. The fans went crazy for the show this year. It was amazing.
What would you consider your best project (is it different from your favorite project)?
The MTV show, Todrick, is something I will cherish forever. There were so many moments throughout filming that made the cast feel like rockstars, as well as opportunities that came from the show. We attended the MTV Video Music Awards, we broke a Guinness World Record, dancing in Times Square to Beyonce for over 24 hours straight and now we have eight episodes that we can look back on for the rest of our lives. It’s crazy. I’m very proud of the show cause it’s funny and charming, but also so many great videos came out of it, too.
What do you find most difficult about balancing everything you’re working on?
It’s difficult to keep the faith that it’s all worth something. There are times when I am playing a Princess at a kid’s party and I don’t feel like the most successful person in the world. It’s super corny, but I’ve found it’s best to just trust the journey because you never know what experiences happening now are preparing you for what’s to come. I’m grateful for every opportunity no matter how small it may seem to somebody else.
Did you always want to move to LA, why?
I hadn’t considered moving to LA until my senior year of college. I had friends who graduated from the theatre program one year before me and moved right out. That was super inspiring and really lit the fire in my soul to make the big move. I just wanted to be with them and do what they were doing. You can truly make your life into anything you want it to be here. There is so much room to play and tons of different opportunities. LA is magical.
Do you sense any competition between actors? Especially in LA where there are so many people trying to “make it.”
Every audition is a competition. Walking into a waiting room full of people that look exactly like you, headshot in hand, can be intimidating because it is you versus them. Outside of auditioning however, I have found that talented people here are looking to create art with other talented people so its best to surround yourself with positive people who are just as driven as you are. Great things happen.
Do you feel pressure to attain a certain level of success? Some self-defined criteria that you would sit back and say ok I’ve achieved this, now I’m successful as an actor?
I do put pressure on myself sometimes to be doing something productive every single day and sometimes will even ground myself subconsciously if I feel I haven’t progressed as a person enough that day. I try to keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race and as long as I am creating everyday and affecting someone in a positive way, I can call that day a win. I hope to look back and say that I changed the world while I was here, especially with my talent or through making people laugh.
You were working on Todrick and doing stand-up. What’s next (a year from now, 5 years from now, etc)?
In a year from now, I would love to have gone on another tour, with Todrick or maybe even my own stand-up tour. I definitely want join a musical improv troupe in the next year and rack up a few more television roles. I hope this year also brings more voiceover opportunities, I love it. In five years, the dream is to be the star of my own sitcom or a cast member on Saturday Night Live. If I don’t achieve these things, I won’t consider myself a failure, these are all the highest of high goals. I’ll consider myself successful as long as I’m able to earn a living doing what I love to do.
Where can people reach you if they have questions or want to follow your career?