When it comes to embracing girl power, many people do not think of activities such as basketball or film making. In fact, it is hard for people to accept that a woman can be feminine while dominating on the court or behind the lens. But visionaries like director Crystal McCrary are set on telling another story and showcasing the strength of women in non-traditional roles.
Starting out as an entertainment lawyer in the heart of New York City, McCrary got exposed to the very best filmmakers,writers, actors, and directors in the business. These interactions created a deep and authentic desire to chase her creative dream of telling stories. Although a little fearful, she would end up trading her high profile position to chase a journey of writing and producing.
“When I decided to pursue my dream, I had no road map,” McCrary reflects on the career leap. “My parents had very traditional job roles and although they were supportive of me, I had to teach myself the skills I would need to be successful.”
This act of faith has now allowed Crystal to create an empire that includes her recent docu-series “Little Ballers Indiana” with WNBA all-star Skylar Diggins. Following McCrary’s first Little Ballers series with co-producers Lupe Fiasco and Amar’e Stoudemire, this tale into Diggins’ Amateur Athletic Union girls team will air tonight on Nickelodeon.
“I really loved working with Skylar on this project. She is so inspirational and truly represents what it means to be a strong woman who can balance her values on and off the court,” says McCrary.
Through the project, McCrary uncovers the struggles of 11 and 12-year-old girls that also mirror the misconceptions in her own profession. To kick off Women’s History Month, McCrary opens up to rolling out on how to play like a powerful girl while celebrating the differences that make them great.
What attracted you to film and producing?
Being an entertainment lawyer, I constantly interacted with amazing people in this industry. It showed that although I didn’t have a roadmap, chasing this creative dream of mine was possible. This led to novels, producing a docu-series on BET and starting the first “Little Ballers” docu-series, inspired by my son’s team.
How did you overcome the fear of switching to an entirely new profession?
It was very scary to leave my big city law firm job. To gain confidence and more knowledge I read books like The Artist’s Way which really tapped into my creativity. I worked on my passion and gained valuable mentors that I have to this day. I realized that I had to have integrity and stay authentic to my true self and I’m glad I did.
When partnering with Skylar’s team, what lessons did you want the girls to walk away with?
These girls are so diverse and basketball served as a way for them to bring out their uniqueness. They learned the power of their strength and sisterhood through the game wins and losses. But the larger message is that basketball is teaching them to that it’s okay to be different. For example, one of the stories show a player who who struggled with embracing her condition of Vitalgio. Playing with the team not only built her confidence but taught her that there is no universal definition of beauty.
Why were these lessons important to teach?
I was compelled to show another side of how a woman should present herself, especially in traditionally male industries. You can be a jock by day and get girly by night without fitting into a narrowly defined perception of what it means to be attractive based on the media’s standard.
Why is it important for women to get involved in nontraditional passions like film?
No one is going to tell the woman’s story like we will. We have a sensitivity to know what makes us powerful and that needs to be showcased on a large scale. We captured many stories such as the struggle of a young black girl with afro hair comparing herself to her mixed, long-haired teammate. Little girls need to see how to overcome conflicts and female film makers provide that in an incredible way.
You can tune in to “Little Ballers Indiana” tonight at 9 p.m. EST on Nickelodeon.