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Crystal McCrary McGuire on creativity, campaigning and the causes close to her heart

Hailing from Detroit, CRYSTAL McCRARY McGUIRE made her mark in New York as an entertainment lawyer before launching an illustrious multi-hyphen career as a film and television producer, director and author. Here, she speaks to ALEXIS CEPEDA MAULE about leaving the corporate world, joining her husband on the campaign trail and keeping things in perspective

Crystal McCrary McGuire

Crystal McCrary McGuire’s varied career is certainly impressive. Having started out in entertainment law, she’s since written two bestselling novels and successfully launched herself into the film and television sphere, directing children’s series Little Ballers and producing a short documentary to mark the 75th anniversary of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (which argued the Brown vs Board of Education landmark case on segregation in 1954). But ambition, determination and seemingly boundless energy run in her blood: among her three children is 21-year-old Cole Anthony, an NBA star who plays for Orlando Magic – and McCrary McGuire is proud to point out that, despite her work and family commitments, she still finds time to collect African-American and ancient African art. Now, she has joined her husband Ray McGuire (former vice chairman of Citigroup) in his campaign to become the next mayor of New York City. Here’s where it all went right…

How she moved from the corporate world into the arts

“I had always had an interest in writing. My true passion really lies with writing and creating. And the longer I was at the [law] firm, the more frustrating it became for me because I was representing clients who had these creative careers. And I was saying to myself, ‘You know, I really want to be able to have a career as a writer, but here I am essentially being a shadow artist, shadowing these artists.’”

What she’s learned about herself along the way

“My biggest challenge from leaving this corporate setting as a lawyer, embarking upon a creative profession, was understanding that although I may be a passionate artist, I still need to conduct the work I do around my art and my creativity as a business. I’ve been fortunate as a creative to have my work published; to have my content on television and in film. But because I was doing something that I was so deeply passionate about in this creative field, I wasn’t looking at myself so much as a business person. And there are certain aspects that I continue to work on.”

My style is classic and contemporary. There’s really a range of designers I love, from Valentino to Brunello Cucinelli

The causes that matter most to her

“They fall under the umbrella of economic justice and economic opportunity. I look at things through the lens of Martin Luther King Jr, [who said] ‘What good does it do me if I can sit at this countertop but can’t afford to buy a hamburger?’ So they are at the intersection of economic and social justice – whether that’s a lack of healthcare, housing and food or jobs in under-resourced communities.”

Why her husband is running for mayor of New York City

“He has been contributing to New Yorkers, from a wide range of communities and businesses (arts and culture, small businesses, minority-owned businesses), from behind the scenes for 30-plus years. He has been supporting so many of the things that are extraordinary and essential about the New York City experience for the people, culture and business community. But he wasn’t a politician. He was doing it because it was really important to him.”

How it feels to become part of his campaign

“It’s been a lot of work – but joyful work, because I believe in him. And it’s really interesting because Ray and I have also been involved in supporting political candidates for several years. Particularly Black and Brown candidates, and women candidates. I did one of the first fundraisers for Kamala Harris when she announced she was going to run for president [prior to her dropping out of the presidential race].”

On her signature style

“My husband is actually far more fashionable than me. But, if I’m describing my style, it would be classic and contemporary. There’s really a range of designers I love, from Valentino to Brunello Cucinelli. I really enjoy fashion.”

How she makes time for herself

“I allow myself mental-health moments. I have to always find time that is uniquely for me to be my best self, so I can be my best self for my kids. [That could be] something as mundane as getting a manicure, pedicure or taking a walk through Central Park – which is one of my favorite things in the world to do – or reading a book that’s out of my discipline. I loved reading Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Welcome to the Universe because it’s so out of the area that I work in every day, but it’s deeply fascinating. And I feel it making my brain work and expanding how I look at the world, and putting all the things that are so superficial into perspective.”

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