Silver Springs, MD, native Crystal Chappell immersed herself in poetry and classic literature as a young girl, eventually discovering her love of acting while essaying the lead in a high-school production of Dark of the Moon. Awarded a drama scholarship for her remarkable prowess on the stage, Chappell subsequently studied computer science and acting at Coast Carolina College in South Carolina, later supporting herself as an aerobics instructor while attending the University of Southern Carolina. It was during a year-long break in her studies that Chappell learned of an audition for a University of Maryland production of Beauty and the Beast, and though she landed the lead role, it was under the strict understanding that she would enroll in the school's acting program as well. Later cast in a University of Maryland production of Spring's Awakening that eventually made it to the finals at the National College Theater Festival, the emerging actress finally realized that her dreams were in sight while performing the expressionist classic at the Kennedy Center.
Upon graduation, Chappell moved to New York and earned her keep as a waitress while becoming a regular on the audition circuit, yet it was a reading of Sanford Meisner on Acting that would compel her to write the author -- who in turn invited her to his West Indies home to hone her craft. Later moving back to New York City, Chappell landed a role on the long-running daytime drama All My Children, and her career officially shifted into high gear. Her relationship with Meisner wasn't over yet, however, and after relocating to Los Angeles for a role on Santa Barbara, Chappell continued her studies with the famed acting coach. If the initial disappointment at learning of her character's quick demise packed a bit of a sting, a subsequent offer to appear on Days of Our Lives provided just the kind of boost needed to keep her spirits lifted.