Blactress In The City: Old City, New Grip

Every month, we ask members of the collective to contribute to the BTFC Artist Series by providing original content and sharing their personal journeys with our readers. From missteps to triumphs, and everything else in between, we follow the stories of resident Black Artists working to make a name for themselves in the television and film industry.

When I first moved to New York all I knew was that I wanted to be an actress and screenwriter. A complete difference from my BA in Journalism with a minor in Marketing and a prior internship in NYC for Fashion Week.

I relocated to New York with no friends, resources or family members. I was living in Jersey City with four other girls and commuting to and from the city for temp jobs. That first year was the hardest — I was broke, sleeping on an air mattress and could barely afford train fare to get to work. I moved here with $1,200 dollars and no job prospects in sight, and that money was depleted within weeks. I had to make decisions on whether to pay my credit card, phone bill or put food in my fridge.

Even though I had the support of my mother, I had to pick and choose when to ask for help, as she was already doing all she could to assist me. On top of all of that, I was completely by myself and that was my biggest battle. Combating loneliness was challenging while I was trying to pursue my dreams in a city that had an abundance of people. I was lost trying to develop friendships and frustrated because I felt like I didn’t ‘fit in’.

Honestly, I’ve been living here for five years and I still struggle with these issues.

Being that this is my introduction to you, I don’t write this to depress you, but transparency about my personal journey is important for anyone that wants to have a better understanding of the hurdles that actors grow through.

Yes, grow, for much has changed since the beginning of this story.

Nevertheless, I share all of this to say that no matter where you move, LA or NYC (if that’s what you’re considering), save your money. Things add up and cash goes fast, so it’s necessary that you understand that budgeting is imperative. How I was living back home in Chicago, socially, professionally and financially, was a total paradox to what I was going through my first year here, and a shock to many.

While all of this was happening I still hadn’t wrapped my brain around how to pay for my acting classes. Without any family or friends to fall back on I was forced to figure things out for myself, especially since I was the one that decided to live here. It took me a little over a year to become financially stable, so I advise whoever is reading this to understand that financial preparation is key. One of my mistakes was not saving enough money or not saving for a few months in advance. Those harsh lows gave me great lessons, and I look forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you.

Crystal Joy




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.


image1(2)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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