T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh

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T'Keyah Crystal
Born Crystal Walker
(1962-10-13) October 13, 1962 (age 52)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Education Florida A&M University
Occupation Actress, Director, Producer, Writer
Years active 1986–present
Children 1 son
Awards 2012: TV Land Groundbreaking Show Award (In Living Color)[1]

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh (born Crystal Walker; October 13, 1962 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American performer, writer, director, and producer. In addition to her status as an original cast member of the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color (1990-94), she is perhaps best known for her roles as Erica Lucas on the CBS sitcom Cosby, and as Tanya Baxter on the Disney Channel sitcom That's So Raven from 2003 to 2005.


Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago,[2] from the age of three, Keymáh enjoyed entertaining her family — singing, dancing, and reciting original poems and stories. She wrote her first play and her first song in elementary school. She performed with Ali LeRoi and Lance Crouther in the Mary Wong Comedy Group in high school before Florida A&M University's School of Business and Industry recruited her. During and after college, Keymáh taught theater, dance, and pantomime. She has also done many theater performances and produced and directed films. She was Miss Black America from Illinois and was 1st runner-up in the national Miss Black America contest. She is a graduate of Florida A & M University.


One of the original cast members of Fox Television's Emmy winning variety show, In Living Color, where for five seasons she played a number of characters, including Cryssy, the central character of her self written signature piece, "In Black World". She also sang and danced on the show. Keymáh starred for three seasons on the Disney series That's So Raven as Raven's mom, Tanya Baxter. In the fourth season of the show her character was written out by saying she went to England, to continue pursuing her career in law school. Keymáh was also a series regular for all four seasons on Cosby, where she played flight attendant turned lawyer turned pastry chef turned wife and teacher Erica Lucas Hall, TV daughter of Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashād. She also starred on The Show, where she played writer Denise Everett, on On Our Own, where she played contractor Scotti Decker, and on Waynehead, where she provided the voices for Roz, Shavonne, Aki, Mrs. LaSalle, and many others. Keymáh is currently working on a new two person stage show with music called Sellout!?! with fellow Florida A & M University (FAMU) alum Bryan C. Jones, who was also one of the many guests to appear in her hit variety show T'Keyah Live! They did the first workshop presentation of Sellout!?! at FAMU this spring.

In Living Color characters[edit]

  • LaShawn
  • Shawanda Harvey, host of Go On Girl
  • Mrs. Buttman (The Buttmans)
  • Hilda Hedley (Hey Mon)
  • Leslie Livingston (Homey the Clown)
  • Cryssy (Black World)

In Living Color impressions[edit]

Other impressions[edit]

Don't Get Me Started![edit]

In Don't Get Me Started!, the performer / activist whose work has been called "Comedy with a Conscience," takes her social-political views to the stage in a solo show with music. Through new characters and some burrowed from her shows Some of My Best Friends and T'Keyah Live!, Keymáh expounds on everything from the prison industrial complex to governmental conspiracy theories and includes music parodies like her spin on Nina Simone's "Mississippi God------" called "Land of Lincoln Doggone" about the death rate of young people in her hometown of Chicago, and her take on Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" called "Obama Baby" about the healthcare plan she'd like to see. Keymáh debuted the show in 2011 at The Black Academy of Art & Letters (TBAAL) in Dallas, Texas. After a conversation with TBAAL Founder Curtis King Keymáh is developing another version of the show that will be "a solo show ... with lots of other people."

T'Keyah Live![edit]

T'Keyah Live! is a variety show and is Keymáh’s third self-produced theatrical show. The show includes witty repartee, musical numbers, endearing characters, audience participation, impressions, video presentations, jokes and guests. She has performed the show across the country since 1999 with a number of different guest performers including Todd Bridges, T. C. Carson, Ralph Harris, Dawnn Lewis and Karen Malina White.

Some of My Best Friends[edit]

Some of My Best Friends is a series of monologues in verse and prose embodied by a dozen diverse but somehow connected characters. In this humorous, tear jerking, thought-provoking theatrical production, Keymáh champions societal issues that are as relevant today as they were when the show debuted to sold out crowds at Chicago’s South Shore Cultural Center in 1991. Overcoming obstacles, the devastation of AIDS, the search for love, race relations, and teen promiscuity are just some of the topics explored. The show was chiefly penned by Keymáh but includes pieces written by or in collaboration with Ali LeRoi, Harry Lennix, and poet Angela Jackson (And All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems Selected and New); and includes a dance choreographed by Maurice Hines. About her work in this show critics have said: "Keymáh is a Charismatic Actress... Chameleonic and Effervescent" - Los Angeles Times;"...Beyond Superlatives; She's Phenomenal!" - Earl Calloway, Chicago Defender; "Much More Than Comedy"- Lisa M. Pancia, New York Vignette; "...a Delightful, Multitalented Performer whose ability to create believable characters on stage is a Wonder to Behold"- Nat Colley, Los Angeles Reader; “Keymáh is Magnificent” - Linda Armstrong, Amsterdam News;"...Keymáh’s Poignant, Detailed Portrayals are Never Less Than Magnificent"- Randy Trabitz, Los Angeles Weekly. The show garnered an AUDELCO Award nomination for Best Solo Performer, an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for Best Writing, and NAACP Theatre Awards for Best Performance and Best Play.

Personal life[edit]

Keymáh is an avid gardener and a vegetarian,[3] as well as an active, life member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[4] She is also a professional poet, singer and dancer, and an amateur visual artist.

Named for Keymah[edit]

There is a theater scholarship named for Keymáh at her alma mater, Florida A&M University and a medical scholarship named for her at Meharry Medical College. Associated Black Charities operates the donor advised Keymah Cultural Fund. The Keymah Cultural Fund provides tickets to youth groups for theatrical performances and funds artistic groups that serve or are composed of teens and children.

Books published[edit]

Keymah is the author of Some of My Best Friends: A Collection of Characters, the book version of the stage show she performed for ten years, and Natural Woman / Natural Hair: A Hair Journey - Hairstyles and Hairstories from the Front with Simple, Step-by-Step Instructions on Taking Care of your Natural Hair, an instructional hair care manual with anecdotes on her experiences as one of the first Black actresses to wear her hair naturally on primetime television.


Year Title Role Other notes
2013 Unsolved Margaret Hanes
2013 Let's Stay Together Dr. Blair Riley 2 episodes
2012 Daughter of Fortune Vogel Peterson
2012 Lost Angels Hadassah
2007–2008 Jury Duty Herself 5 episodes
2005–2006 American Dragon: Jake Long Trixie's Mom and Marsha Brubert 3 episodes (voice)
2004–2005 Teen Titans Bumblebee 4 episodes (voice)
2004 My Wife and Kids Realtor 1 episode
The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park Tonya
2003–2005 That's So Raven Tanya Baxter Main Role (Disney Channel Original Series); 54 episodes, seasons 1-3 ("Mother Dearest" - "Food for Thought")
2002–2003 Static Shock Allie/Nails 2 episodes (voices)
2001–2003 Batman Beyond Dispatch Operator, Max, Old Lady, Makeba 3 episodes (voices)
2001 The Gilded Six Bit Missy Mae
2000 Tweety's High-Flying Adventure Aoogah voice
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Robber Girl, Grandmother Snow Queen episode (voices)
1998–1999 Pinky and The Brain Nurse, Singer, Mom and Little Boy 2 episodes (voice)
1998 Aloha Parade Host/Herself
NAACP ACT-SO Awards Host
1997–2000 Cosby Erica Lucas 94 episodes
1997 Jackie Brown Raynelle
Soul Train Host 2 episodes
1996 Waynehead Roz, Aki, Shavonne and others 13 episodes (voices)
The Show Denise Everett 9 episodes
1995 On Our Own Scotti Decker 7 episodes
1994–1995 The John Larroquette Show Sarah 2 episodes
1994 The Commish Grace Caldwell 1 episode
1993 Roc Darrelle 1 episode
1992 Quantum Leap Paula 1 episode
1990–1994 In Living Color Cast member 126 episodes
1987 Big Shots Secretary (uncredited)
1985 The Miss Black America Pageant Contestant


External links[edit]