Crystal Reed was born in Detroit, Michigan and began to study dance at an early age. She attended Dort Elementary School in Roseville, Michigan, Roseville Junior High and Roseville High School, where she was president of the school's drama club was the dance captain. She also took part in a local community theater and performed in musicals such as Annie and Grease. After graduating high school, Reed attended Wayne State University where she pursued fine arts, but left before finishing her bachelor's degree to move to Chicago where she performed in local plays and continued to take improv and theater classes at places like Second City, iO Chicago Theater and Act One Studios before she moved to Hollywood. She has been acting professionally since her debut in 2010 in an episode of CSI.