“It was supposed to be a 28-day shoot, but it turned out to be a three-month shoot,” LisaRaye laughs, triumphantly, about her new reality series, “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,” which kicks off tonight on TVOne. On Tuesday, the actress and former First Lady of Turks & Caicos held court at The Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for a special screening. Needless to say, LisaRaye–who arrived on the red carpet in all-white, of course, with her statuesque daughter, Kai, and attentive glam squad in tow–was more than pleased with the standing-room-only turnout. From what we’ve seen of the series thusfar, it seems that she’s left no stone unturned–from her very messy, very public divorce to her life as a single mother and jailhouse visits to her sister, Da Brat, and everything in-between. Is there anything she wishes she’d not shared with the reality cameras? “Not a doggone thing!,” she says. “I believe that if you understand where you’ve been, then you know where you’re going, so I told it all!” ESSENCE.COM chatted up LisaRaye prior to her show’s television premiere. If she gets her way (and she usually does!) everybody will be tuning in to watch the drama unfold. ESSENCE.com: ‘LisaRaye: The Real McCoy’ is a fabulous name for your show! LisaRaye: To me, that’s branding for your ass. The ‘real mccoy’ is a cliche’ that means ‘the real thing’ and I think this will also force people to call me LisaRaye, which is my first name. A lot of people think they can get away with saying, “Lisa this” and “Lisa that,” and it’s like, “That’s not my name. My birth name is LisaRaye!” When I was younger, I thought LisaRaye sounded so country, but I’ve come to really appreciate my family-given name. I was named after my father, David Ray McCoy, and I’m totally a daddy’s girl. He passed about 21 years ago and since then, the “Raye” in my name is even more important to me. I’ve got girlfriends who call me “Raye” or “L. Raye,” but when somebody calls me “Lisa,” it’s like, “You’ve got two more times to say that and then I think you’re disrespecting me and I’m going to have to cut you!” [laughs] ESSENCE.com: So, why a reality show? LisaRaye: Well, my story is a journey. It’s an educational process, not just for me, but for a lot of ladies who have either gone through what I’m going through, going through what I’m going through, and hopefully, some who will not go through what I’ve gone through. The show is the best method for me to share my experiences with people. There were so many rumors and stories coming out of the scandal of my divorce that were untrue, so I said, “I need to disclose my side, my story. I need to educate people about why this divorce, in this country, in this way, has been so difficult. I was not married to an American. Also, I was married in another country and I have a whole, different status than someone who is married to a prominent person or an actor or politician. I was married to a Head of State in another county, so that’s much different than having one of those high-profile weddings, you know? ESSENCE.com: You mentioned rumors. Was it difficult for you to have your personal troubles played out before cameras and reporters? LisaRaye: I know how things get twisted and turned around so that everyday common folks will buy into what’s being sold. Once you understand that the gossip columnists and journalists are just doing their jobs, you can’t let it bother you to the point that it drives you crazy. You have to look at that and go, “If you think that my story is that important and you want to keep my name out there that much, then go ahead.” That’s exactly how I look at it. I became paparazzi-heaven and I started staying cute. It’s like “Oh, you want to get me [on camera]? OK, let me give it to you. Pow! There you go…boom!” ESSENCE.com: And what about your daughter, Kai? How did she handle the divorce? LisaRaye: My daughter was very upset about the divorce because everything abruptly came to an end. She was going to school at the University of Buckingham, in London, where my ex-husband, Michael, was lending his financial support. Then, all of a sudden, he stopped doing everything. I couldn’t respect that because not only was he dealing with my life, he was affecting my daughter’s life and her education. That, of course, pissed me off. She came back home, which ended up being a great thing because we were able to bond in a different way. I needed her and she needed me, so we had to start getting back to our life and our lifestyle all over again. ESSENCE.com: Surely some of your Hollywood ties have frayed, too. LisaRaye: Things have definitely changed. There were a slew of people who were there, in my spotlight, when I was First Lady. Vivica was so “there” during my wedding special on the Oxygen channel that people were like, “Whose wedding is it?” She and I were friends before I got married and we shared a lot like, “Girl, let me tell you this, let me share this with you!” What we shared is our business and I would never disclose that to the public, so I was kind of pissed about the New York Daily News article that said I was trying to air our dirty laundry [on my show]. I wouldn’t do that. I’m too grown for that. I reached out to her and to Star and said, “I don’t know where they got this information from.” Of course people noticed that we weren’t as close and I would just say, “Oh, I haven’t spoken to them since I’ve gotten divorced.” That was the truth. With Duane Martin, I know of one woman that he introduced to my ex-husband, while we were married. That was enough for me to say to him, “We are no longer friends. You not only have no respect for me and the friendship we had before you met Michael, but you don’t respect our working relationship and you don’t respect my marriage.” ESSENCE.com: So, what do you see in your future? LisaRaye: I want to take this experience and allow it to help me grow and learn from my mistakes so I can stay open. People ask me, “Would you get ever get married again?” Absolutely so! I am a fan of love and I am looking for a partner. It is much easier to fight through this thing called life with someone, as opposed to fighting alone. I absolutely want to be a wife and to come home to somebody who I know adores me. I have love that I want to share and I want to receive it, too. ESSENCE.com: OK, last question: why white, all of the time? LisaRaye: I just feel good in white. It’s crisp, it’s clean and honestly, I never get my clothes dirty. There’s no particular reason why I wear all-white, though. It’s not about religion or because I feel angelic…we know I’m not a virgin! [laughs] Two back-to-back episodes of “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy” will premiere tonight on TVOne, beginning at 9/8c. Read more:
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