In the past, BET has provided a platform for the reality behind the lives of those who have made it with Tiny & Toya, or Keyshia Cole’s Just Like You. In addition to more relatable sides of the spectrum, through the kinks of society within black college students’ living in Baldwin Hills.
Along with being introduced to the makeup of hip-hop culture and black film, we’ve grasped a great idea of creative instinct, or originality from the network, and other outlets on developing the perfect come up.
The new addition to the series we clung onto from the entertainment network, introduces us to New York’s finest, the crew that’s beating punching in the nine to five, and are carving their own definition of success on Hustle in Brooklyn.
Headstrong label executive, Ivy Rivera, up and coming hip-hop star Azia Toussaint, and a breath of fresh air in the comedy world, comedienne Eva Evans, are the dynamic girl squad leading the pack of women on the rise in a male-dominated industry. “One thing I will say to all my women is to keep your eyes and ears open to everything. Everyone has their own journey and experiences, but one thing I’ve learned is you always have to fight for that respect,” Rivera said.
Rivera, who’s establishing her name and gaining her well-deserved respect through her current ventures at eOne Music, used her families’ consistent work ethic and by any means necessary attitude to enhance her own hustle. Her bloodline reaches from many talents of dancers, actors, and musicians, and she owes it all to Hip-Hop for working within her true destiny.
Family plays a major role within this trio’s growing ladder of experience. Evans, a Jamaican native, who found her true being and opened opportunities through Brooklyn, wants to make a better life for herself. After quitting her stable, corporate job at Showtime Networks, she decided to stop doing what was expected of her and started building the road to her comedic dreams.
“One thing I will say to all my women is to keep your eyes and ears open to everything.”
Her solution and growth mechanism to do so involves three to four nights on open mic stages, that she’s progressively concurred over time. “I have my top five that I watch their specials, old and new, and I learn a lot from them. I got D.L. Hugley, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Samore, Louis C.K. I don’t study to copy but to learn because I have my own style. I like to watch other people sets to make sure I don’t have the same jokes as them, and if I do have the same premise, it’s a completely different setup and punches from my perspective. Experience is the best teacher. The more I get on stage, the more I learn and grow as a comic.”
Evans proves that consistency is the key to perfecting your craft in any field, whether it pertains to entertainment or not. Azia Toussaint seems to have already put this insight into perspective. Not only is she continuously prospering within her blossoming music career, but she also plans to create both a hair and cosmetic line at the top of the new year.
Touissant’s past has heavily shaped who she is today and may have even influenced the push to juggle multiple hustles. She expresses her defining moment of realizing what she truly wanted to do with her life during her college experience, where she once had hoped to become a lawyer. “After a day, I was like no I want to do entertainment. I always knew I wanted to be a household name. I didn’t think it would be me being an artist, because that’s not really what my dad pushed me toward, he wanted me to go to school, graduate and get a degree; so I met him halfway. I did graduate, I did get a degree. In college I joined an R&B group that didn’t see the light of day, well it did see the light of day but without me. We had a potential deal in Virginia, which didn’t work out for me—so I went back to my dad like, “Hey, I really want to take this music thing serious,” and he was 100% invested and involved and we haven’t looked back since,” Toussaint said.
“Experience is the best teacher.”
Azia’s father is just one of her many influential figures in the game, or persons who she’s positioned to be the vision board behind the person she would like to become. “I love my dad. I love Sade, I love Daft Punk, I love Kanye, Travis Scott, Janet Jackson, . I love Lil’ Kim, I love Jay-Z. I love Beyonce. I think the people that are my influences all come from different places, so it’s not just the music, it’s a ton of reasons. Some people I listen to for their beats, others because of their whole branding process. I like what they present an artist, I like their performances, or I might just have a lot of different elements I consider with who I’m influenced by. I love Diana Ross, I can’t forget her.”
Even with the stated and appearing male-dominance of multiple career avenues, viewers of the Hustle in Brooklyn series, glimpsed into the positively platonic relationships the girls have carried in union with their male co-stars.
The storylines have dived into the personal side of things, with choosing one’s career over the will to love and vice versa, but what has stuck out the most, is the immense support system the cast has sustained around one another. “I’m happy to know that there are people who actually honor my name, especially the guys because it’s easy to tear down anybody. I think I’ve established really great relationships, especially with the people on the cast, all of them. Santos and Baggy, Jesse, the twins [Perks and TP], and Randy and Marco, we all connect in different ways that help us all, whether it be moral support or something that we can actually do for each other. I don’t think it even has to do with gender, I think it’s the whole definition of maintaining the fort of friendship,” Rivera said.
Like ourselves, we know people are waiting for the green light on if season 2 will be something to look forward to sometime in the new year. Evans, Rivera, and Toussaint all have their fingers crossed for more production to the series, with a promising onlook, but no complete confirmation yet.
Until then, these fiercely career-driven powerhouses are adding more happy-ending chapters to their success stories. “Once you give up your morals, you have nothing else. Stay true, and stick to your ground, hold your morals, and don’t try to move up the ladder fast, focus on getting respect in your field,” Evans said
Fans can be on the lookout for more brand partnerships and genuine personal growth from Rivera this year. Toussaint will be floating smoothly into putting her beauty products out into the world, and Evans is taking her self-righteous and bring comedy style international, as she gears up for a few comedy festivals that are not only allowing her to travel the country but also expand her name.
“Stay true, and stick to your ground, hold your morals, and don’t try to move up the ladder fast, focus on getting respect in your field.”
To keep up with the female forces of BET’s ‘Hustle in Brooklyn, each can be found on Instagram @theivyrivera, @azia.am, and @evaevanscomedy.
Photographer: Blair Devereaux
Stylist & Creative Director: Julian R. Lark
Hair: Leatha Morgan, Ashley Alexis, & Omar Weaver
Makeup: Shenelle Mays Smith & Dominique Doyle
Written by: Diamond Jones