T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh

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T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
741 T'Keyah.jpg
Keymáh in December 2016.
Born Crystal Walker
(1962-10-13) October 13, 1962 (age 55)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Education Florida A&M University
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1983–present
Awards 2012: TV Land Groundbreaking Show Award (In Living Color)[1]
Website tkeyah.com

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh (born Crystal Walker;[2] October 13, 1962) is an American actress and singer. In addition to her status as an original cast member of the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color (1990–1994), she is also known for her roles as Erica Lucas on the CBS sitcom Cosby (1996-2000), and as Tanya Baxter on the Disney Channel sitcom That's So Raven (2003-2005).

Early life[edit]

Keymáh was born Crystal Walker in 1962, in Chicago.[3] Since the age of three, she has 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 she enrolled in Florida A&M University (FAMU) at the School of Business and Industry.[2] Her brother is US Army National Guard Brigadier General William J. Walker.[4]

Career[edit]

During college and after graduating from FAMU, Keymáh taught theater, dance, and mime. She has also done many theater performances, and produced and directed films.

One of the original cast members of Fox Television's Emmy winning variety show, In Living Color, for five seasons Keymáh 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.

After In Living Color, she played contractor Scotti Decker in On Our Own; played comedy show writer Denise Everett in The Show; and provided the voices for Roz, Shavonne, Aki, Mrs. LaSalle, and many others in Waynehead. For four years, Keymáh was a series regular on Cosby, where she played flight attendant-lawyer-pastry chef-teacher Erica Lucas Hall.[5] Following Cosby, she appeared for three seasons on the Disney series That's So Raven as Raven's mother, Tanya Baxter. In season four her character was written out of the plot so that Keymáh could care for her ailing grandmother.

Keymáh co-wrote and co-starred in a two-person stage show with music, called Sellout!?!, with fellow FAMU alumnus 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.[when?][citation needed].

In Living Color characters[edit]

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

In Living Color impressions[edit]

Other impressions[edit]

Don't Get Me Started![edit]

Keymáh performed a solo stage work titled Don't Get Me Started! She sang, performed impressions, and talked about the prison industrial complex as well as conspiracy theories. She rewrote pointedly political lyrics to songs by Nina Simone and Eartha Kitt.[citation needed] She debuted the show in 2011 at The Black Academy of Art & Letters (TBAAL) in Dallas, Texas.

T'Keyah Live![edit]

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

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,[6] as well as an active, life member of Beta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.[7]

Keymáh self-published two books: Some of My Best Friends: A Collection of Characters, the book version of the stage show she performed for ten years,[citation needed] 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 about her experiences with Afro-textured hair.

Legacy[edit]

Associated Black Charities operates a donor-advised Keymah Cultural Fund, which provides tickets to youth groups to attend theatrical performances and funds artistic groups that serve or comprise teens and children.[citation needed]

There is a theater scholarship named for Keymáh at her alma mater, Florida A&M University.

There is a medical scholarship named for her at Meharry Medical College.

Educator[edit]

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh served as a K-8 substitute teacher for the Chicago Board of Education for 4 years. She has presented her "Tools of the Trade" actors preparation workshops at theatre festivals and other events in the United States, and she has lectured abroad. In the fall of 2017, Keymáh served as Florida A&M University's first ever W.K. Kellogg Foundation Artist-in-Residence in the College of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities Theatre department. Her residency included directing Pearl Cleage's The Nacirema Society Requests Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First 100 Years, teaching an Acting for the Camera course, and providing industry workshops and mentoring students.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Miss Black America Pageant Contestant Miss Illinois and 1st runner up for Miss Black America[8]
1987 Big Shots Secretary Uncredited [9]
1997 Jackie Brown Raynelle
2000 Tweety's High-Flying Adventure Aoogah
2001 The Gilded Six Bit Missy Mae Short film
2004 The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park Tonya
2012 Lost Angels Hadassah Short film
2012 Daughter of Fortune Vogel Peterson Short film
2014 Unsolved Margaret Hanes Short film
2015 Bail Gladys/Bobbie Short film
2015 Chi-Raq Lorde
2016 Instance Ms. Kaplan Short film
2015 What Happened Last Night? Beverly

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1990–1994 In Living Color Various Series Regular - 140 episodes
1992 Quantum Leap Paula Episode: "A Song for the Soul - April 7, 1963"
1993 Roc Darrelle Episode: "Ebony and Ivory"
1994 The Commish Grace Caldwell Episode: "Born in the USA"
1994–1995 The John Larroquette Show Sara 2 episodes
1995 On Our Own Scotti Decker Series Regular - 7 episodes
1996–2000 Cosby Erica Lucas Series Regular - 94 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1998–99)
1996 Waynehead Roz Series Regular - 13 episodes
1996 The Show Denise Everett Series Regular - 8 episodes
1997 Soul Train Guest Host 2 episodes
1998 Pinky and the Brain Singer Episode: "Inherit the Wheeze"
2000 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Grandmother Episode: "The Snow Queen"
2000-2001 Batman Beyond Old Woman, Makeba and Dispatch Operator Episode: "Babel, Untouchable and Countdown"
2002-2003 Static Shock Teen Girl #1 and Nails Episode: "Power Play and Hard as Nails"
2003–2005 That's So Raven Tanya Baxter Series Regular - 50 episodes (Seasons 1-3)
2004 My Wife and Kids Realtor Episode: "Moving on Out"
2004–2005 Teen Titans Bumblebee 4 episodes
2005–2006 American Dragon: Jake Long Various 3 episodes
2007–2008 Jury Duty Herself 5 episodes
2013 Let's Stay Together Dr. Blair Riley 2 episodes
2016 Sharknado: The 4th Awakens Tech Terry @ Astro X Syfy movie
2017 There's… Johnny Roz Series Regular - 6 episodes[11]

Video Games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Teen Titans Bumblebee

References[edit]

External links[edit]