Blactress in the City: Getting Your Ducks In Line

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After three years of training I had to start asking myself some questions. What kind of acting work do I want to do? Theatre? Commercial? Film? Do I want to stay in NYC or move to LA?  

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My acting coach advised me to start going on auditions to get practice and help build my confidence, and I can admit I was terrified. However, before all of that I had to get my professional material together. Head shots are expensive and I was lost on how to choose the right photographer and how to pay for it. Thankfully, I had a member of my family that is a professional photographer take them, but for those that don’t have the same set up, what do you do? There is no easy way around it, if you want professional looking head shots you have to spend some coins. I’ve heard of scam stories from fellow actors that used an agencies photographer, Craigslist and the like. I advise going through Backstage, asking a fellow student you know, coach, or the acting studio you attend to request recommendations.

Also, do your research. The proof is in their body of work, and if you can, find reviews. Nowadays, everyone has some sort of social media page-so dig up as much as you can before you invest. When you do find a photographer ask for a consultation, you want to be sure that you are comfortable with the person taking your photos. Head shots will easily cost you $1,000+ and as I said in my first post, if you’re going to spend a lot of money do it wisely. Let’s put this in clear perspective: your headshots are the most important marketing tool you will need when going on auditions. It will be presented to casting directors and agents and it can easily land on the desk or computer of a top executive. So make sure they are professionally taken, up to date photos  and not Instagram, Facebook or pictures you took on your iPhone.

If you need help on how to look for your head shots here are some simple tips: don’t go over board with the makeup-look like yourself but with some effort. Casting agents want to see the picture and know that when you walk in the room you look exactly like that head shot. Don’t wear a costume, a solid color will work just fine. A chest up, blurred background and good lighting is standard. And finally, let your personality shine through!

There is a part two to this post, so stay tuned for the next one…




The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.


Born and raised in Chicago, IL Crystal Joy has dedicated her time to learning her craft in both acting and writing. She received her BA in Journalism from Loyola University Chicago and is a former student of Stella Adler Studios and Lucid Body. She currently studies with Mel Williams from Theater Of A New Generation. In 2015 Crystal made her debut in an Off-Broadway play, “The Cherry Orchard,” and as a new face on the scene she has been extremely busy with landing roles in short feature films and plays as well as writing for herself and others.


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