Life With Intention
Multitalented artist pursues many platforms
By Jessica Laskey
Tory Scroggins lives his life by the law of intention.
“Whenever I do a job, I go in with the intention to do my best work ever,” the multitalented actor, photographer and makeup artist explains. “Do that every time and eventually somebody will notice it.”
As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, Scroggins knew he wanted to be an entertainer, but extreme introversion held him back. When he took an extra-credit photography class to fast-track his way out of high school—he never liked school, though he now holds an AA in theatre arts from Sacramento City College—he unexpectedly fell in love with the art form.
“For the first time in my life, I thought, ‘This is something I could do for a career,’” Scroggins says.
But he didn’t stop there. As he worked to emulate the images he so admired in magazines, Scroggins felt like something was missing. When he stumbled across a book by famed late makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, it dawned on him—he was missing the makeup.
So Scroggins set to learning how to do makeup, often practicing on his 7-year-old sister. After assisting a well-known makeup artist on several shoots, Scroggins got his solo shot—the lead makeup artist on a Harper’s Bazaar shoot with Queen Latifah became unavailable and Scroggins was asked to fill in. That led to gigs doing makeup for Janet Jackson and even a new girl group that was just starting out—Destiny’s Child.
But even with all the high-profile gigs, Scroggins still felt the pull of his childhood dream of performing. When a model friend asked him to portray her boyfriend for an agency audition, Scroggins jumped at the chance—and the agent liked him so much that he offered to represent him. Scroggins spent the next few years auditioning for film and television, while also performing in plays to beef up his résumé.
“My goal at the time was to be a movie or TV star because that’s what everybody else was pursuing,” Scroggins explains. “But as the years went by, I found I really loved doing theater. Nothing is the same as performing live.”
Fast forward to 2013 when Scroggins moved to Sacramento to be closer to family and he suddenly found himself in an unexpected theatrical haven.
“The theater here is so diverse,” says Scroggins, who has appeared in plays at Celebration Arts—he calls artistic director James Wheatley “one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had”—as well as Big Idea Theatre, Capital Stage and B Street Theatre. “As a black actor, I don’t have to go to a black theater to get a lead role.”
He was also pleased to discover a new niche for his photography. As actors are often in need of headshots, Scroggins started offering his services at affordable prices (including makeup and retouching at no additional cost) under the aegis of Tory Scroggins Photography.
The Curtis Park resident has even finally broken into film—which he finds ironic now that he no longer lives in L.A. Photos of Scroggins in a local production of “Balm in Gilead” caught the attention of a San Francisco casting director, who cast Scroggins in the soon-to-be released Netflix feature “All Day and All Night” directed by Joe Robert Cole (cowriter of the film “Black Panther”). Scroggins also recently wrapped a sci-fi fantasy film, he’s teaching himself piano for a solo show he’s writing about Nat King Cole, he’s posting regular makeup tutorials on his YouTube channel, and he’s still performing and photographing to his heart’s content.
Clearly when you live with intention—and work as hard as Scroggins—the artistic possibilities are endless.
Follow Scroggins on YouTube, Instagram @toryscroggins and @makeupbytoryscroggins or on Facebook at Tory Scroggins Photography.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.