In celebration of the release of the book “The HBCU Experience: Virginia State University” book (out now), we got the chance to interview VSU alumna and television producer Kayla Beal. Check it out!
Randall: Tell us about yourself!
Kayla: I am a television producer, writer, model and entrepreneur. I was raised in Queens, New York. During my career, I was able to have opportunities with different networks such as NBCUniversal, BET, Hulu, Warner Brothers, HBO and much more. My production company is called “Perception For You, LLC”. Providing services of production which include directing, producing, writing, editing, event planning, marketing, hosting, talent consulting and casting. I’m an active member of New York Women in Film and Television, which provides a platform to learn, enlighten and inspire women in the film and television industry. I love to travel to foreign countries, try new food, explore the beaches and embrace the culture. I am honored to be a part of this movement that will encourage others to attend HBCUs.
Randall: How did you end up at your University/College?
Kayla: In 2007, the movie Stomp the Yard inspired me to want to attend an HBCU. I wanted to be in an environment where students were treated fairly. I became intrigued and researched further about HBCUs. Studies shows that by attending an HBCU, black students have better academic performance, enhance social skills and higher occupation ambitions. My cousin suggested that I should apply for Virginia State University because the mass communication department was one of the biggest majors on campus. Although my family didn’t want to me to leave New York, they felt comfortable knowing that my cousin was already attending VSU. I received my acceptance letter the day of prom; therefore, I felt it was destined. It was one of the happiest days of my life, that changed my life.
Randall: What did you get your degree in? Did it support what you are doing now?
Kayla: I have a degree in Bachelor of Arts and graduated magna cum laude. My degree supports my career in the film and television industry. It also provides a wide range of other opportunities to explore in communications.
Randall: Can you give me a quick description of your years in college?
Kayla: Freshmen year, I overcame being homesick and embraced black culture. Sophomore year, I voted for the first-time electing Barack Obama as President and learned about black history. Junior year, I further pursed modeling and experienced black love. Senior year, I was elected Vice President of Academic Affairs for SGA and I discovered my passion for producing television.
Randall: What year would you consider as your success year?
Kayla: I consider my senior year my successful year because I was able to maintain a high GPA, which was a goal I set since freshmen year. My first producing experience was creating commercials for VSU with my mentor. This gave me the confidence to purse and further explore my career direction after graduating. Also, I increased my spiritual growth and built friendships that became family.
Randall: How did you start working in your current position?
Kayla: At VSU, I learned from my professors to not worry about the competition, always do your very best and take advantage of all opportunities. In my career, I kept that mindset which resulted in a previous employer offering me a position to help develop a court show called Judge Jerry. I was honored to take the position because she knew how hard I worked in the past and wanted me to join the producing team. After completing the pilot, NBC Universal loved the show and we taped season 1 and now currently working on season 2.
Randall: Did you expect to be in the position you are in today?
Kayla: I am extremely thankful for the position that I am in today, however, I didn’t expect it. Throughout my journey I tried to stay positive, but there were many long nights, doubts and hesitations. Renewing my mind and surrounding myself with encouraging family and friends helped me to strive towards my goals.
Randall: How do you feel your HBCU experience at Virginia State University aid you in your success?
Kayla: I couldn’t imagine my life without my experience at Virginia State University. It allowed me to become independent as a young adult and have a home away from home. At VSU, we were like family. We all learned, supported, criticized, loved and even hated each other at times. Overall, there will always be a love there that is unexplainable as a VSU Trojan. We created an environment where we all helped each other because we all wanted to reach our dreams and goals. VSU gave me the opportunity to network with people who were just like me and learn from their career paths. Forming connections with my own race gave me the confidence for the real world knowing that I had that black magic support system.
Randall: What’s next on your journey?
Kayla: Growing my business endeavors by pitching show ideas and creating content for different television and film networks. My team and I plan to complete our documentary film that will be premiered soon. In addition to mentoring new graduates by giving them advice and leading them in the right direction in the entertainment industry.
Randall: Where can we find you?
Kayla: I often post on my Instagram story about job opportunity, connections, casting, networking events and advice in the television and film industry. Sometimes giving my Instagram family a quick look of behind the scenes, if allowed by the studio. Feel free to follow me on Instagram Kayla_way You can e-mail me at [email protected]
Randall: Tell us about your book The HBCU Experience: The Virginia State University Edition?
Kayla: The book is a collection of compelling stories from Virginia State University Alumni sharing how VSU modeled us to the people we are today. We hope to inspire others to attend an HBCU and encourage to achieve their career goals. My chapter is titled Branding from the Inside Out, where I discuss how the culture of VSU helped me discover my brand identity within my career. Breaking down how I learned from the environment and people around me.