Entertainment industry couple settle in Brookhaven.
Cristen Barnes, an actress, and Aaron Milus, a scriptwriter/ director/producer, met through mutual friends at a party in Los Angeles in 2011. “Cristen walked in, and my friend leaned over to me and said, ‘See that blonde girl right there? I’d be OK if you married her.’ Seven or eight years later, we got married.”
In 2019, Barnes and Milus relocated to Brookhaven from LA. Atlanta had everything they wanted: more space so they could build their dream home and the ability to still work in film and television. “We love our community, neighbors, friends, seasons. We’re getting a more well-rounded life and are still able to pursue what we love to do,” Barnes says. “I like being close to anything we need, and I appreciate how green Atlanta is.”
Though they moved right before the pandemic hit, they found work. Milus was involved with the writer’s room on a Marvel project, and Barnes has done voiceover work for six commercials and played Jackie on an episode of “The Ms. Pat Show” in 2021. “When I booked ‘The Ms. Pat Show,’ it felt like we made the right decision to come here,” Barnes says.
Acting in theater since she was 5, Barnes is auditioning for film and TV this spring. The New Orleans native has done many commercials and acted in indie films and TV shows, including, “Rizzoli & Isles.” In January, she flew to LA to shoot a proof-of concept film that will be submitted to festivals. She wants to get more involved locally by joining the Atlanta Actors Collective and performing sketch comedy. “A lot of us [from LA’s Straitjacket Society] are out here now, so we started looking at our sketches and scouting out theaters.”
Since Milus was a kid growing up in Illinois, he knew he wanted to be part of the movie industry. He’s worked in post-production doing editorial and design visual effects, built pitch decks for directors and written, shot and directed a few seasons of a web series. Last year, he worked with the NFL on an episode of the YouTube show “NFL Explained” covering the history of team logos. One of his favorite projects was connected to “Project Greenlight,” when he produced a series of promotional videos for a horror film contest.
“We didn’t win, but the people at Adaptive Studios/ ‘Project Greenlight’ liked our pitch video and asked us to produce these videos. So I got to shoot, direct and do post-production and all the graphics for three videos.”
These days, Milus is focused on writing. He’s working on a comedy pilot and a pitch for a production company that wants to build a show around a written article. He also freelances and is a remote teaching assistant for a San Francisco State University screenwriting class. Milus has also written multiple feature scripts (some have been optioned) that he hopes to find homes for in Atlanta.
Milus and Barnes aspire to work with more of the shows filming here, such as “Stranger Things.” “I’ve had many auditions for ‘Stranger Things.’ I really like TV, the set-up, the schedule,” Barnes says.
“I want to write the next ‘Stranger Things,’” Milus says.
STORY: Vanessa Pascale
PHOTO: Joann Vitelli
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