My whole name is Crystal Gem Noreiga. I never put in the ‘Gem’ because everyone’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so cute,’ so I just kind of leave it out. I’m from Trinidad and Tobago.
It’s in the Caribbean, right beneath America—you have, like, Jamaica, Cuba, and then there’s a chain of islands that you call the Archipelago. Trinidad is at the bottom near Venezuela. When I lived there, people would tell me, ‘Oh, you should be Miss Trinidad and Tobago.’ A lot of people in Trinidad, maybe to this day, feel like beauty pageants and modeling are similar, so I didn’t really know the difference until I started watching America’s Next Top Model.
It’s not that accurate about modeling, but it gave me the best idea of what it’s like. I liked to watch the show so when I got scouted, I said to myself, ‘OK, I’ll just see where it goes.’ I didn’t expect to do anything major. This man told me to come to a competition and I ended up winning and now he’s my manager. -Crystal Gem Noreiga