Crystal Renee Hayslett Promotes Healing And Growth With ‘Keep It Positive, Sweetie’ Podcast

AUSTELL, GEORGIA – MARCH 30: Crystal Renee speaks onstage during Keep It Positive Sweetie, LIVE! at Riverside EpiCenter on March 30, 2024 in Austell, Georgia. (Photo by Derek White/Getty Images)

Last year, the singer and actress Crystal Renee Hayslett added another notch under her belt with the Keep It Positive, Sweetie podcast. Through introspective dialogue and thoughtful discussions with notable figures such as Will Packer, Pretty Vee, Kirk Franklin, and several others, the weekly audio series has become a popular listen for a variety of demographics. This past weekend, Hayslett was able to experience the success of her brainchild in real time with the show’s first live taping in Atlanta, GA.

Crystal Renee Hayslett Promotes Healing And Growth With ‘Keep It Positive, Sweetie’ Podcast
AUSTELL, GEORGIA – MARCH 30: (L-R) Eva Marcille, DeVon Franklin, Crystal Renee, Tamela Mann, and David Mann speak onstage during Keep It Positive Sweetie, LIVE! at Riverside EpiCenter on March 30, 2024 in Austell, Georgia. (Photo by Derek White/Getty Images)

“I’m still having trouble finding words to describe how incredible it was,” the Zatima star says. “It was just the most amazing moment—it seriously was.” by focusing on fun topics and leading important conversations, Haylett fostered a safe, enlightening space for everyone in attendance. The evening began with a conversation between Crystal and her therapist, Delena Zimmerman, where they discussed self-love, growth, and finding one’s purpose. She was then joined by David and Tamela Mann, Eva Marcille, and Devon Franklin. The group delved into relationships at different stages and phases, with Eva and Devon speaking on navigating life after divorce, while the Mann couple reflected on their thriving 36-year marriage.

After the roundtable, Hayslett displayed her dynamic artistry with a powerful performance alongside a live band. She kicked off her set with a piano solo of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” followed by renditions of “Made for Me” by Muni Long, “Snooze” by SZA, and “I Was Here” by Beyoncé. The medley concluded with Crystal singing “The Goodness of God” by Cece Winans. To close out this special experience, Hollywood mogul and Sistas creator Tyler Perry came onstage to pray over Crystal and express how proud he was for all her recent and future success.

Crystal Renee Hayslett Promotes Healing And Growth With ‘Keep It Positive, Sweetie’ Podcast
Photo Credit: Dream Girl Shot It

With a guest list that included Skyh Black, KJ Smith, Todd Galberth, Dharius and Shameka Daniels, Kimberly Blackwell, Isaac Carree, Nzinga Imani, and Chido Nwokocha, the live taping of the Keep It Positive, Sweetie podcast served as the perfect atmosphere for the sold out audience. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Hayslett spoke with ESSENCE about the impetus for her popular show, its impact, her vision for the future, and more.

ESSENCE: With you being so busy with your career nowadays, what went into your decision to create the Keep It Positive, Sweetie podcast last year?

Crystal: It actually was my manager, Dinorah Peña. She actually brought the idea to me. And at first, I didn’t want to do it. I said, “What do I have to say that’s different from all the other podcasts? There’s so many podcasts out there.” And she’s like, “I think it’s time for you to tell your story.” So I thought about it, and in the black community, when it comes to really being open about a lot of things, sometimes there are certain topics that are really tough to talk about. Because we’ve been taught, “Hey, you shouldn’t really talk about that, or what happens, just leave it in the past.” And through therapy, I really got the nerve to really open up and just be more transparent with my audience and we decided to do it.

Tname actually came from a girl that was on my Instagram page being negative. And normally, I don’t even respond to people. But that day, I had time. Sometimes you’re like, “I got time today.” But that day I said, “Instead of being negative, you should see that I’m supporting another young woman’s business.” Then, I put #keepitpositivesweetie, and my fans just ran with it. When we were thinking of a name, I was like, “We should do a little segment called Keep It Positive, Sweetie.” And they were like, “No, that’s the name of the show!” So, that’s how we came up with it. But it was my manager saying “It’s time Crystal.” I like to be a little more low-key, but it’s definitely forced me to be more open and out in front of people. Because even being on TV, you’re hiding behind a character. You don’t really have to expose who you are.

What do you think it was about your story that intrigued Dinorah enough to give you that nudge to start a podcast?

Many things—my journey, just getting to the point that I am today from being from a very small town. Speaking to those young girls that may be from cities that may not have as much to offer as your bigger cities. My upbringing; there were things that I had gone through as a child that I hadn’t really talked about. And even from the point of wanting to commit suicide as a teenager. Things that we just really just brushed under the rug and you just keep moving on and keep pressing forward, which I think is something that from generations take it all the way back to slavery. We just had to literally just keep pressing, keep pressing. Nobody has time to sit around and cry. Life goes on, keep it moving. And as I started to open up about things, I was like, “These are things I want to talk about.”

And in that moment, I did an episode called “Get to Know Me,” where I took all my makeup off, stripped it all off, just so people could really see me. I opened up and I didn’t go into a lot of detail about it. But I opened up about a lot of things in that episode. And from there, I realized how many people are really hurting and how much we really need to heal. But also more than that, I realized that people needed to see someone like me who they feel like just has it all together, to realize I’m just like them.

The Keep It Positive, Sweetie podcast is not even a year old yet, but it is so successful. So how do you feel about its incredible success in such a short period of time?

It is absolutely amazing to see how the audience has really gravitated and resonated with every episode. I bring on so many people who feel safe enough to share their stories with me and with the audience. And I say that we are healing, laughing and growing together and loving together. And week in and week out, you see people. They’ll write in and say, “You changed my life. You saved my life.” When I get letters like that, I’m like, “Oh my goodness, we’re really making an impact with this.” It is more than just getting in front of a microphone and a camera and just talking about the hot topics. We’re really sitting on things that are real to people and sharing what we really go through on a day-to-day basis and what we’ve been through to get to where we are in our lives. So just to see how it’s grown so fast and how popular it has been is just amazing.

What was the reception like for the live podcast on March 30, and how does the energy differ from a normal taping that you do?

From the moment I woke up that day, it was just a different type of feeling than any other day. I get to the venue and the energy is great, but when you start to hear a little chitter-chatter of people saying, “The line’s around the building. Crystal, you’re not going to believe this.” And some of my team would go out to the lobby and take videos and you could just feel the energy. But when the DJ announced me and I could hear the screams and the yells and the tears from the crowd, it was so electric. I’ve been to concerts and I’ve done that for other people, but to hear that and feel that for me was just… It was an out-of-body experience. I’ve never felt anything like that. And I tell people all the time I’m still getting used to this thing called fame, walking out of the house and people recognizing you.

To sell out a place like that for a first live show and to hear everybody screaming like that, it was just insane. When I’m at home shooting, it’s just me and my videographer and my manager and then the guests that I have come. So it’s super chill. My house is super peaceful and quiet. Some days, I’m super tired. But that day it was so much energy that I don’t think I got tired until yesterday. I was literally on a natural high for two days.

Now concluded a successful live taping of your podcast—and you can actually speak to not just live shows in the future, but just the future of your show in general—what’s your vision for the Keep It Positive, Sweetie podcast moving forward?

You know what? My vision ultimately is to have my own daytime television show. I’m going to keep putting it out there. I want my own daytime television show. I see myself creating, continue to create a space for not just women, but men as well. As I look into the audience, the core of my fan base is women. But I did see men there as well. And I want to open that up and really bring us all together so that we can really heal together.

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