Erica D. Hayes discovered her gift for lighting the same way she found her love for directing: through a love for music, and a penchant for building genuine relationships. The Detroit, Michigan native was on the road with R&B/soul singer Kem in 2007 as his video director, when she learned that one of his tour mates, future repeat Grammy nominee Ledisi, needed lighting for her own first headlining tour. She asked Ledisi for a shot. In the years since, Hayes has moved to Los Angeles, where she’s become a go-to lighting designer for both legacy acts like The Isley Brothers, Fantasia, and Run DMC, and contemporary stars like SYD, Coi Leray, and H.E.R., who she toured with. She also designed R&B star Daniel Caesar’s Freudian Tour, and his performance on “The Late Night Show With James Corden.”

Once she established herself in the music industry, Hayes prepared to take her talents into television and film. After more than 15 years in the industry, she was initiated into the IATSE 728 union in 2021. She was pregnant with her second child, but she didn’t let that stop her: Hayes landed early opportunities as a lighting console programmer for HBO shows such as Made For Love and Westworld. Her work on those shows helped her earn additional gigs for the Nickelodeon sitcom That Girl Lay Lay, HBO’s hit Insecure, and ABC’s Call Me Kat, along with the feature film House Party produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Company.

These days, with both the music industry and Hollywood at her fingertips, Hayes can afford to be selective with her projects, but that doesn’t mean she’s slowed her pace. She has the phrase “work comes from work” tattooed on her wrist, and continues to make moves steadily. Her dedicated approach has led her to work with a multigenerational swath of award-winning musicians, television shows, and feature films with many more ahead for the future.