Crystal Joy
Crystal Joy

NOTE: Skip ahead to read Crystal Joy’s story below if you’re already familiar with how this series works; if you’re not familiar, please read my intro first for context…

I’ve done this once a year, every year, for the last 4 years, and your responses have always been enthusiastic, so I figured, why not continue? Especially with the site’s readership continuing to evolve, just as I’d expect of your individual lives as creatives on the move.

A decent number of you are in the business (whether just getting started, or are seasoned veterans, or somewhere else) – actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, writers, producers etc, etc, etc. Some have made it to the point at which they are able to earn a living utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others – and I’d say the majority – are what we’ve labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb an incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some self-defined pinnacle of success – whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.

Where do you fall? As the title of this post states, what’s YOUR story? And would you like to share it with the rest of us?

I’m looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on. In addition to delivering industry news, reviews of films, interviews with talent, this site (and its various social media extensions) has also always aimed to function as a community of sorts – a space for artists to share, engage, teach, learn, grow, commiserate, gain some exposure, and more. And this “What’s Your Story?” feature is one example of that specific effort.

It takes a certain amount of courage to be able to be vulnerable and share one’s journey, but I suppose that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do; as I said, it’s been a mostly successful series, as others have been willing to share in the last few years that we’ve done this.

You might learn something; you might teach someone something; you might meet someone virtually who positively affects your journey in some way; and more.

So what’s YOUR story?

Email me at with “What’s Your Story” in the subject heading. You can submit your story in any format – written, or even documented on video – and I’ll post it here on the site. I recommend being honest and thorough; not just a written ad for your next project. It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn’t have to be all negative, nor all positive. We’re all complex people and so I assume our stories are as well. And be sure to attach a photo (hi-res) for me to include (although it doesn’t have to be a photo of yourself; just make sure you have the rights to whatever image you send), and if you have samples of your work, include them as well. Posts with visual aids tend to travel more.

There’s no deadline, so send as you will.

You can also choose to be anonymous if you’re more comfortable doing that.

For a sample of past submissions so you can get an idea of what’s been done before, click here.

You can also email me if you have any questions about what to submit, or anything else related to this series.

Kicking off the 2017 edition of “What’s YOUR story?” on March 8 was actress Natalie Tucker who, in January 2016, decided to quit her corporate job after 20 years, to pursue acting full-time. Read her story here if you missed it. 

Below is Crystal Joy’s story, an actress who moved from Chicago to the competitive jungle that is New York City, 4 years ago, also to pursue acting; and she’s still standing strong!

I told my story back in 2013, formerly known as Crystal Hardman. I was barely getting my feet wet with acting classes and writing and I was still grappling with the fact that I had left home to new territory. Much has changed, including my name. Now, as Crystal Joy, I have continued to pursue my dreams as an actress and writer. I began building my credits by doing plays at the Producers Club, Red Hook Labs and the Davenport Theater and I recently started navigating into TV/Film. Last year I booked my first guest star role on the ID Discovery show Shadow Of Doubt and I even booked a few commercials as well. I’ve also been able to write three short films, one I starred in and executive produced called “Crumble,” which has gotten into some film festivals. It’s not yet accessible to the public since its still circulating but the trailer and poster are below.

I’m finally starting to see some success in my journey, but it definitely came with a lot of humps and set backs. I still don’t have a support system here and developing genuine friendships is still a challenge; Face Time and social media makes things a tad easier for me to stay connected with friends and family back home (Chicago) so I don’t feel too left out. I’m a part of film-making groups, I volunteer at film festivals, and I go to events weekly. It is so important to stay active in the community you aspire to work in and because of this I have built professional relationships that have proved useful in my journey. I made the choice to leave my full time job a year ago to dedicate my time and attention to my career, and I only told a few people (and now you).


As far as surviving, I work temp jobs, catering and I even do background work to keep the money coming- I definitely feel the sting of not getting a steady paycheck. Was it a mistake to quit my job? Possibly. But, I think that’s just the way life goes. You take risks, you jump, skin comes off, you fall on your tail but then you get up and keep moving forward. The option of staying down or becoming complacent should never be an option, especially when you’ve sacrificed so much.

I have to remind myself daily of why I moved to New York. How am I suppose to see any kind progress if I don’t take scary, all or nothing risks? I depend on food, oxygen and water the same way I depend on faith, productivity and work ethic, but the latter was something I had to fine-tune along the way. I won’t say I didn’t have it when I first moved here but I’m much more confident now than I was four years ago. The fact that I’m still here, living in a city that can easily swallow you whole is an accomplishment in itself.

What am I working on now? I’m currently in pre-production for my next short film called “Behind the Silence,” and I’m almost finished building my website. In the meantime, you can check out my IMDb page for a look at my past work.

Can’t wait for the next update!

A teaser for my previous short film “Crumble.”

Find me on instagram at: ImCrystalJoy, and on Facebook at