We had the good fortune of connecting with Crystal Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crystal, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
My sister and I grew up in San Francisco as the children of Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants. My father was an entrepreneur and started several failed small businesses before opening up an optical laboratory doing same-day jobs for optometrists around the city. Growing up, my father would pick me up from school and take a circuitous route home, stopping at customers’ offices and having me run in finished jobs. He would drive up, I’d hop out and hand over the glasses, run back into car, and continue on and repeat it at every stop until we went home for me to start my homework. This hustle was normal to me and helped me develop an appreciation for hard work and the sacrifices made by small businesses owners.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After a decade-long stint in pageants that culminated in me placing 1st Runner Up to Miss America 2013, I left my career in tech in 2017 to host a program called This is SF.
I’m now at Making It Media, the production house behind the Destination series, a travel program airing on CBS, IG TV (@food_empiire), Roku, and additional streaming platforms. I’m the host and producer for the show, which features trending businesses in major American cities and provide a space for entrepreneurs to tell their stories.
As a TV producer, I’m on set doing everything from conducting interviews and managing the cast, to setting up shots and loading out gear. But as the host, I’m also in a hybrid role of having a recurring on-camera presence to guide our viewers through our series. As a a small company, our team
It hasn’t been easy or predictable to get to where I am; it took risks such as leaving a stable job in software, developing new skill sets in media production, and building a network of contact who I hoped would eventually hire me. I freelanced for three nerve-racking years to arrive at the full-time role I have now. At times, I thought I would run out of money and savings. I still worry about that!
I’ve learned that although it’s not always immediately actionable, it pays to be be patient, consistent, and to hold steady on a course you know in your heart is right for you. Life rarely gives us want we want in the order we want. But as long as we find ways to keep doing what we love, doors will naturally open.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When I say “I live in LA” I really mean, “I live in Culver.”
I’d start in Culver City, my neighborhood, starting with breakfast at quaint Jackson Market. It’s an unassuming deli in the middle of a family-friendly residential neighborhood but they have the most beautiful backyard patio and the best breakfast burritos. Then I’d recommend a bike ride to the beach along Ballona Creek trail to Playa Del Rey. After riding back to Culver, I’d book dinner downtown at Piccalilli – their chicken katsu and crispy pig ears are a MUST!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my mentor Rob Parks Valletta and also the Golden State Warriors org and fanbase for giving me encouragement and energy at every game!