Demetria McKinney was fortunate enough to land the role of a lifetime in TV One’s Bobbi Kristina as Whitney Houston, the late icon and mother to Bobbi Kristina.
Stopping by ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! McKinney talked about the depths she had to explore in order to become Houston.
“I really realized, in order to get into Nippy I had to dig into myself,” McKinney said. “Whitney would fight you. Nippy was no joke. She cussed, she drank, she smoked. And, it wasn’t to say she’s a bad person, that’s just the reality of who she was.
McKinney added, “Like anybody else, she had her demons. I had to get into that space that I didn’t want to get back into. So, my mother…my biological mother is still married to the man who tried to molest me. I have been homeless due to that situation. I have been pinned to a tree and beat up by a boyfriend. These dark places that you go to in order to be an actress I never really had to go to because I already had that thing in tuned. But to get to some of the places that she would feel, I had to become the most vulnerable I have ever been.”
TV One’s Bobbi Kristina premiered in October, telling the story of Bobbi Kristina’s struggles growing up in the spotlight. McKinney says she immersed herself in all things Whitney Houston, singing non-stop to make sure she portrayed the iconic figure just right.
It was a dream role for McKinney, who says Houston was the biggest inspiration in her life.
“She was the reason I wanted to sing in the first place,” McKinney told ESSENCE. “I used to tie pom poms to my head and make people at the family reunion sit down and pay me fifty cents to hear me sing a terrible rendition of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody.’ You were gonna pay me, you were gonna get this concert. She has been my inspiration, musically, period. Point blank. Everything else—I love Chaka Khan, I love Anita Baker, I love Celine Dion, Pink, Nine Inch Nails—I listen to all kinds of stuff, but she was it.”