“ Ask for what you want.” – Stacey K. Black
written by Annette Palmer
Stacey K. Black primarily worked with actors as a hairstylist for years on television shows like PROVIDENCE, GLEE, CSI NEW YORK, BOSTON PUBLIC and NIP/TUCK, as well as on movies like RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. While doing hair, she enjoyed talking to the actors about their role, what expectations their character had for that day, and then using that information to affect the hairstyles she would give them. Seeing herself as a storyteller, she knew that if the actor was supposed to be surprised or unprepared for something, Black could “help make the actor FEEL unprepared with a simple change of hairdo.” Talking to actors was her favorite part of the process, which perhaps inspired one of the most unconventional promotions in television history.
While working as the Department Head Hairstylist on THE CLOSER, Black approached her boss, executive producer/director Michael M. Robin and showed him two short films that she had written and directed, BLUE MOON and THE TRUTH IS UNDERRATED, for a chance to direct. Although she knew it was an unconventional long shot, it paid off three years later, when all five executive producers of the show, Michael, James Duff, Rick Wallace, Kyra Sedgwick, and Greer Shephard called her in for a meeting to tell her that she was directing an episode of THE CLOSER. Black’s dream of becoming a director had finally come true and she ran with it, having now directed ten episodes of television, with more to come in the near future.
While the world of film and television is filled with bias against women, Black continues to be supported and guided by Michael Robin, Rick Wallace, Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli. She honestly doesn’t know if she’s “personally faced many gender-based obstacles.” She goes on to say, “If I have, I haven’t registered them…I must have blasted through them without even feeling the impact…I mean come on! I was promoted from hair to directing. Who gets to do that???? ” However, Black’s success has not blinded her to the struggles that women face every day. She believes that “if we show, in our entertainment and media that women can (fill in the blank), then people won’t be so hesitant to believe it.”
For the many women who dream of following in Black’s footsteps, her advice is to “DO what it is you want to do. If you want to be a screenwriter, write something. If you want to be a Director, direct something. Do it. Gather your crew. Shoot it. Edit it. Get that piece of cinematic genius in your hot little hand. Second, ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Show it to people who are in a position to recognize your achievement and give you an opportunity.” Finally, Black suggests that in order to get that leg up, you have to not only have the goods, but the people you are asking for help have to like you. “That’s crucial.”
The year 2017 is promising to be a busy one for Black, who will be directing an episode of STITCHERS for the Freeform Network, NCIS – NEW ORLEANS for CBS, and she will be returning to her beloved MAJOR CRIMES for TNT, with her most recent directing episode airing on March 15.
You can also check out her web series, TROUBLE CREEK, starring Jason Gedrick, Dean Cameron and Debrah Farentino, which she created, producing and alternately directing episodes with her friend Shea E. Butler. She is also re-cutting her feature length music documentary, SEND MY MAIL TO NASHVILLE into a web series. Both projects will launch in a few weeks on YouTube, but viewers can go to the channels now to see the promos.
In addition to her directing, producing and screenwriting, Black is an accomplished musician, with original songs featured on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, THE CLOSER, CSI NEW YORK, and in a ton of short films. Her solo album GUARDING THE CASTLE is available on iTunes and CD Baby. Her band, Nobody’s Station, also has an album out called A BORROWED ROAD, with a few songs having been featured in some cool short films.
“I don’t know of another hairstylist to be given the opportunities that I have been given, and owweee, am I ever grateful.” Humbled by her success, Black warmly credits Michael Robin with the words (by Credence Clearwater Revival) that inspire her to continue writing so that she may always have something to shoot. “Keep on Chooglin!”