Exceptional Alumni: Crystal-Lee Naomi stars in Tyler Perry’s SISTAS


What path did you take to attain your current career with BET & SISTAS?
The path I took to SISTAS was lead by my work ethic. At the head of 2019, I was one of the final three actresses up for a big role on a long-running show, but didn’t get the part. That was when I decided to really focus all my energy on one of my strengths, which is my work ethic. So, later this year, I got the part of Alissa on Tyler Perry’s THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS, and again, focused and made my work ethic my wild card. Mr. Perry has an incredible work ethic, so I think he recognized mine and was impressed by it, and he offered me the part of Jasmine on SISTAS!      

What has been the coolest thing about your job so far?
The coolest thing about my job so far is inspiring others! I become inspired when people tell me that I’ve inspired them in some way. It’s like we’re healing, fighting, overcoming, and winning together. And it feels great to do what I love and have it inspire others too. It’s like having your cake and eating it too. 

How does it feel to be on a TV show?
I’ve worked on TV before, but to be on this show of Tyler Perry’s making, with this cast, and this crew is so meaningful! Life is so short, so I’m constantly looking to create memories and make my life more meaningful. SISTAS feels like more than a show. For me, it’s like when you eat a meal versus eating a meal cooked with love. You can taste it. And this show is definitely made with love! 

What made you decide to become an actress?
When I was sick as a kid, my dad told me “listen to your body.” He meant that my body would naturally tell me if I needed rest, or water, or warmth, or quiet. Although he was talking about recovering from illness, that advice always stuck with me and I think that’s why I decided to become an actress. I listened to what I actually wanted and plowed forward to make it happen! 

 What does a typical day for you look like?
A typical day for me is an atypical day – lol! One thing that is constant for me, though, is positive reinforcement and feeding myself inspiration. My mom nurtured my creativity ever since I was three years old – she’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m noticing this now that I’m an adult. So, daily, I’m always doing for myself what she did for me: nurturing my creativity and clapping for every one of my wins – big or small. 

How does your job connect back to your time at FIU?
My job as an actress connects back to my time at FIU in so many ways! I studied in the Department of Journalism + Media and it’s there that I learned about storytelling and getting the story right. Acting is storytelling, so my time at FIU is still important in every step I take. 

Were there any classes or professors that influenced where you are today?
Mrs. Sarah Anderson had a great influence on me during my time at FIU! She was a student coordinator for the Department of Journalism + Media and was strategic in helping me navigate and successfully complete the program. She wasn’t even my counselor – we just bonded and I remember bringing her fruit salads some mornings because she was just such a joy to be around.

I also had a great time studying under Professor Neil Reisner. Everyone likes Professor Reisner! I remember him passing back our written assignments in class one day and he told me mine was one of the best. He began to walk away and pass the next student their paper but I stopped him and asked him why. “It flowed,” he said. It was just a small moment where he made me feel I was good at storytelling and reporting, and I never forgot it. 

What advice do you have for students interested in a career in acting?
The advice I’d give students or anyone pursuing acting is to work and study hard and celebrate every single success, no matter the size. Becoming good at something is what makes people respect and remember you. So study! Actors also need to be grateful, humble, and patient. Celebrating your feats will do just that, as well as keep you motivated during the tougher times! 

What are three words you would use to describe FIU and what it means to you?
Three words I’d use to describe FIU and what it means to me are achievement, fun, and home. FIU is where I gained some of my first achievements as an adult. I won scholarships at FIU, I learned responsibility, accountability, and so much more in the classrooms of FIU! A lot of my discipline was developed there. FIU is more than a school. It’s a community, it’s my home away from home. I’m so proud to have been a part of the diverse, stimulating, and prestigious community at FIU where I learned who I was and wanted to be. I had fun, and made a bunch of memories and new friends –I even met my best friend at FIU!  

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