Portrait by Jes Marie Beauty Photography

THE scene opens on a girl adding final touches to her makeup in front of an old Hollywood style vanity mirror by herself in a dressing room when the crackling of a walkie-talkie interrupts the silence followed by a voice penetrating the air: “Crystaltina, we are ready for you on set.”  

A solitary tear runs down her face which she quickly wipes away with her makeup brush. This was the moment I realized I had made it.  

Image by Jessica Marie Portraits

You see, dear reader, this is a core memory of mine that still feels unreal – it was the first time I got my own trailer on set for an acting job.  

It didn’t feel unreal in the sense that I felt undeserving, but it felt unreal in the sense of a dream; one that kept me warm on cold nights during my impoverished childhood when all I had was a blanket of hope and imagination.  

Photo courtesy of Crystaltina

If you held a looking glass up to the tear, you’d see a montage of sleepless nights, homelessness, broken spirits at the hands of abusers, countless rejections, living out of cars, boobytrapping doors with no locks in the ghetto, being robbed, sharing a twin bed with my little sister, no electricity, homework by candlelight and more.  

It was in those literal “dark times” that I decided to devote my life to making my dreams a reality.   

Image by Jes Marie Beauty Photography

So, I wiped that tear away along with all the adversity that it carried and replaced it with a self-assured cheese-eating grin. It was all worth it. 

That was two years ago working for a major Boston brand. Shortly after, I accomplished another lifelong goal of mine: moving to New York City. Not only did I move to “the concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, but I fully funded my move with wages I earned chasing my dreams.  

Image by Mo Mendes

Weeks before I moved to NYC, I was on set for a feature film, acting alongside one of the first friends I made in this industry. The film is called Money Game and you can see it on the big screen (no joke, in IMAX) at its premiere in the Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) April 13th, 2024 at Simon IMAX Theatre. Come join me there!  

Image by Wicked Mojo

One week before my move, I attended my first movie premiere for a film I was in at the Paramount Theatre. Seeing myself on the big screen, in an actual movie theater, was a dream come true.  

To hear people laugh and cry with you (and at you), was a surreal experience. You can now watch me play the supporting role of Katherine in that award-winning queer dark romantic comedy The Sympathy Card on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Tubi or Google Play.

Photo courtesy of Crystaltina

That was my silver screen debut but I knew it wouldn’t be my last. 

Day 8 of living in Brooklyn, I was on set for the biggest modeling campaign of my career with world renowned photographer Erez Sabag. 

Image by David Blazze

My path to my now budding acting and modeling career was nonlinear. I caught the acting bug at the ripe young age of 5 when I told my mom that I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. From that moment on, my happy place was the movie theater. I would sneak into the theater and escape by watching classic films on VHS at home (when we had electricity). 

Image by David Blazze

The older I got, the deeper into poverty we sank. My mother was a literal starving artist and watching her struggle to monetize her craft broke my confidence. It was in my preteen years I decided to abandon my creative pursuits and focus on a practical career. Lulling yourself to sleep with the sounds of an empty stomach growling really changes your priorities.  

Portrait by Mo Mendes

So, I focused on my grades and I got a full ride academic scholarship to college where I majored in Forensic Psychology with prospects to get my joint JD/PhD. When it came time to apply to grad school, all I had to do was hit “send,” but my finger hovered, frozen in space.  

Image by David Blazze

I thought to myself: “just push the button. You’ve spent your whole adolescence and most of your 20s working tirelessly for this”. But I couldn’t do it. That was a future life built entirely out of fear, not joy. 

The dreamer was back. I took all the money I had saved and invested it in myself to pursue acting and modeling. I went from working at Harvard to driving for Uber and UPS to make ends meet. I never looked back.  

Image by Mo Mendes

All the while, I had my mother’s words nagging me: “no matter how little you have, you can always give back.”  

These words were the soundtrack to my 20 years of volunteerism. My longest standing non-profit relationship is with Horizons for Homeless Children. I proudly represented their organization as a PAL, PLAY Network Leader, public speaker and in multiple newspaper outlets such as Mass Live.  

Image by David Blazze

Additionally, I dedicated my spare time to educating doctors, lawyers, clinicians, etc. on how to provide quality care to their patients/clients.  

I had to use my degree somehow –  I am anything but wasteful. 

Portrait by David Blazze

Now I am living a life that’s more than that little girl ever could have dreamt of; a life led by creative joy and this is just the beginning. 

To keep up with the latest on Crystaltina, follow her on Instagram HERE!

Portrait by David Blazze

Publisher’s Note: Crystaltina has been a valuable member of our BostonMan Magazine Legacy Club Community for the past three years. She truly is an amazing woman who radiates an inspirational energy that is felt by everyone around her. Watching her success and seeing her drive in achieving her dreams makes me proud. Congratulations on all you continue to do Crystaltina!

Image by John Lee