April 07, 2022

By Devyn Bakewell

Staff Writer


Tay Hawes is the creative powerhouse who has worked behind the scenes on some of the most recognizable videos, promotional content, commercials, and live performances over the last nine years.

Most artist go to larger boutique companies for production, but because of his long working relationships in the industry, Hawes has managed to work with some big named celebrities on special projects.

Through his production company, Hawes Media Group, Tay has produced content for famous hitmakers. He has collaborated music icons like Cardi B, Kanye west, and Los Angeles Rams wide reciever, Odell Beckham. Tay has partnered with world-reknown brands like Disney and Nike. While Hawes Media Group is a small production company, the entrepreneur shows that there is power in hard work through his multitudes of success.

A man known for making the impossible possible, Hawes is known for being a hard worker with a fast turnaround in the entertainment industry. During an interview, the entrepreneur/manager discussed with the Los Angeles Sentinel his first run in with client and famous artist, Lizzo. Hawes worked with the singer at the start of her career for her “Truth Hurts,” video.

“We had about $50k to work on two videos, which was hard, but that gets my adrenaline going. I produced two jobs in two days in one house, and that song later became a hit record and video and was at the top of the charts for over fifteen weeks.”

Black creatives often face a lot of struggles in the entertainment industry from production to the actors and models within the projects. An industry dominated in White supremecy and discrimination is an issue often placed on many creatives of color. Because of this, Hawes has made hiring people of color a staple component of his company.

“Back when I started in production in 2009, there weren’t too many black creatives. It was mostly just dancers and actresses,” said Hawes. “Black people were treated secondary. They’d eat less and have breakrooms that weren’t as nice as other people. They just weren’t treated well so, I always made a point to treat my actors and dancers the exact same way as I treat my crew.”

He continued with, “I’ve shot in so many different cities, but I always hire a diverse crew. I’m a big advocate in hiring black creatives in all my projects, whether it’s PAs, my caterer or someone in the sound department. I make sure to have them in all the jobs.”

While this wasn’t a struggle for Hawes, this was an issue for other production companies who are not accustomed to working with non-White creatives.  Especially during the times of unrest in the heap of the pandemic, when companies were pushed to hire more Black people.

“[As Black people] we need to continue to push the initiative and make sure we’re on all these sets.”

Hawes also shared a Black creative concern to be unionized within the entertainment industry. Especially in areas like glam, Black people often have to prep for projects because there’s no one in the union with the ability to work on Black hair and skin.

“We here, and we’re here to stay,” said Hawes.

Tay Hawes dedication to hiring and working with other Black people goes far beyond him. With Black creativity comes Black expression, and Hawes believes that it takes teams of diversity with people who look like you to make these projects as authentic as possible.

“We’re doing these jobs for Black artists, and it’s important for them to see a familiar face. People pour their hearts and souls into these jobs, so it’s only right that the person behind the camera talking to them, interviewing them, and even shooting them understand the importance of being a Black artist,” explained the entrepreneur.

Hawes went on to discuss the value that comes with relation to the artist one works with. “You need to be aware of how to light dark skin or think how can I interview someone who’s overcome something if I don’t understand it or come from something similar. You have to pull things out of them, and I think these days, when working with young artists and athletes who may not be used to being in front of the camera, they need to identify with you. You have to understand them.”

While he’s done many projects in a diverse range of topics, Hawes shared that his favorite projects to work on are usually ones involving sports. The entrepreneur described a Nike campaign he did with Titans running back Derrick Henry that touched his heart, specifically.

“We blessed a single mother of four, which extremely touched me because it was so very similar to my upbringing. She lost almost everything in the Tornadoes, so we surprised her with a year of free rent, twenty boxes of free Nike gear, $12k of Ashley Furniture, and took them to the Titans game where they sat in a box suite. It was a surprise, so she had no idea, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” 

Of his music video projects, Hawes said that his favorite project was working with Cardi B in “Up”.

“It was a difficult job in the middle of COVID. We had to build seven different sets, which was hard because we had to work over twenty hours with our masks on,” described Hawes. “It was a challenging job for me, but Cardi’s passion is unmatched. When the video game came out, seeing how everyone received it just warmed my heart.”

Dealing with passionate artists can sometimes be the hardest part Tay’s job. Artists can be strict and passionate, especially when working with Black and Brown women.

“They [women] are faced with so much. With comments on social media, people can be very mean, so female artist pour their heart and soul into their crafts and it’s a challenge because everything has to be perfect. Sometimes I’m not always fortunate enough to do everything the exact way they want us to do it.”

With its struggles, comes more rewards, however. Tay also shared that “it’s most rewarding seeing how people receive the projects. I love when people turn videos into challenges, and people all around the world do it.”

It also helps that people are starting to become more infatuated with behind the scenes as much as the project itself. “It’s rewarding that people are starting to appreciate the work from our [production] perspectives,” Tay told the Sentinel.

For those looking towards careers in entertainment, Hawes’ advice is “to understand what it is you want to do in this industry and stick to it,” but be open to learning.

“Understand multiple point of views. Be diverse, and learn the different sides to everything,” shared Hawes. As his career developed, he shared that he did all kinds of jobs and moved up throughout the years. “It’s not hard to get in the industry, but it’s not easy either.”

Tay’s work and dedication to the community will carry Black creatives for many years to come. Through his tenacity, he set an example that we as a community must support each other. The  work we do goes far beyond us.

“Black people often have challenges across the board for anything, but we’re beyond strong. We’re built different, and we have ancestors who’ve paved the way for us to be who we are.”

As the year continues, Tay will continue to manage Lolo Lauren Spencer, actress on HBO’s hit show Sex Life of College Girls. He also has many big projects that he’ll be working on.


“I have lots of more sports stuff and music videos, but I’m working on a special project that’s very dear to my heart. I can’t speak much on it, right now.”

To follow along with Tay Hawes, and his many projects, visit his website https://www.tayhawes.com or follow his Instagram @tayhawes.

Category: Business