LisaRaye McCoy Delights in Double Dose of Shows (by: Tonya Pendleton, BlackAmericaWeb.com)
LisaRaye McCoy is a survivor. Instead of fading slowly into the woodwork like some women of a certain age, her career is going stronger than before. She’s now the lead on two TV shows – playing herself, as only she can, on TV One’s reality show, “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,” and as Keisha on VH-1’s first scripted show, “Single Ladies.”
Produced by Queen Latifah and her longtime manager Shakim Compere, “Single Ladies” is about three Atlanta women – Keisha, April and Val – and their single misadventures. (Well, Val starts out married, but it’s going to hell fast.) Now on its third episode, “Single Ladies” looks to be the first non-reality hit VH-1 has had in a long time. And despite all the fighting and fussing on their non-scripted shows, on “Single Ladies” the women are portrayed as each other’s biggest supporters and friends.
We talked to McCoy recently about her own single life and making it as an over-40 actress in a town notorious for pushing them aside.
BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM: You seem to be spending most of your time on television these days. How do you have any time for down time?
LISARAYE MCCOY: When I was filming “Single Ladies,” the first month and a half, I was still doing “The Real McCoy,” So I hadn’t had a break, and I was doing two jobs at once. I felt overwhelmed. I needed to step back for a minute and pray about it because I asked for this, so I didn’t want to come across as unappreciative and not thankful because truly I feel blessed.
What a difference a year makes. Last year on “The Real McCoy,” I was in the trenches. Y’all saw how I was crying about where am I going to get my money. I got that Phantom note on me, it’s $7,000, I was like what, what, what? So now in the middle of this, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m saying, “Girl, you betta check yourself.” I had to pray for time management. I had to pray for some me time. That is part of my spiritual journey, even now. I sat my butt down, got some sleep and said, “C’mon with it.”
I don’t know if people remember, but you did a reality show years ago on Bravo called “The It Factor.” Even back then, you were on a mission to do whatever it takes to make it.
I was like, “What will it take for me to get better to do what I want to do?” I want to be an actor. I want to do TV. I want to do comedies. I want to do movies. I want to be a spokesperson; I want to do whatever that is. Show me the way. And you saw that last season on “The Real McCoy.” I wanted to be better on the TeleprompTer, as far as hosting things. So you have to humble yourself and making sure that you’re learning everything that you can.
People focus a lot on your “gold-digging” or your relationships, but you seem to be a woman who can take care of herself and has done so for a long time.
Well, thank you, sister, I appreciate that because that lets me know that you are clued in, articulate and in balance. I do work, and I work very hard, so of course I want someone who can [work hard] as well. You already know what I’m bringing to the table so we can have more power together. I want power. Power to me means money; money to me means wealth, and that means we can go and enjoy ourselves and have a lifestyle. I want to be equally yoked, and if you ain’t thinking the way I’m thinking, then I don’t want to waste your time, and I sure don’t want you to waste mine!
If you saw someone who was striving and loved what he did, but maybe not in a lucrative career, would you deal with that brother or would you truly prefer an investment banker?
Love can’t pay no bills. I know what my bills are. I know what my lifestyle is. For the sake of dollars, let’s say you got a mortgage that is $10,000. Can he afford that? Am I going to stress him out because I’m saying, “I’m-a run to the Dominican Republic for the weekend and get a painting?” Because that’s what I do. Am I going to stress you out because I say, “I’m going over here with the girlfriends, and I’m paying for everybody?” Because that’s what I do. Is it going to stress you out when I’m having a party and I need to spend $50,000 on the food and the location? If that’s going to stress him out, then that’s going to cause problems, and I don’t want it.
So, how that’s going?
I’ve never had a problem with men or dating. But you know how you make a list of what you want in a man? I forgot to put “spiritual” on there. Spirituality is one of the things that I need in a person. I want to be accountable to God, and I want him to be accountable as well.
What do feel that you’ve learned in life that you can impart to younger women like your daughter and other women her age?
Know your self-worth. Our white counterparts put their children in a place where they can meet someone on their level. They go to bar mitzvahs; they go to cotillions, and they go to Ivy League schools. It ain’t nobody but us black folks that are content with going to prom. It’s nothing wrong with teaching our kids to go after someone who has something. We need to make sure that our men step up to plate and make sure that we step up as well. We are new millennium women, and we work, and we have things to bring to the table. That’s a bonus to a man. Know that.
Men have never been a problem for you. Since we’re talking about “Single Ladies,” what is your advice for the women out here who have had issues in their relationships, especially ones in our age group?
If I had the recipe to make a relationship last, then I’d still be married, so I’m looking for that same recipe as well. I’m looking, but I’m not looking. I really want it to find me this time. I want to look up and say, “Really, is it you?”
How did “Single Ladies” come about?
Stacy Littlejohn was on my show, “All of Us.” We’ve been friends for 10 years. During the writer’s strike, she said, “I’m going to write my way out of this.” She pitched it to VH-1, and they bought it, but VH-1 wanted to go younger. The auditions went on and on and on, and they couldn’t find Keisha. Stacy said “Well, what about LisaRaye?” and they said “LisaRaye is over 40,” and she said, “Yeah, have you seen her?” “Well, nooo.” “Well, you might want to see her.” So, I got it the old-fashioned way. I auditioned.
Rumor had it you and co-star Stacy Dash had a little dust-up on set. True?
Here’s the thing. Stacy and I were friends before we even got to “Single Ladies.” I worked with her on “Gang of Roses.” We’re working guerilla hours – 13 to 16 hours a day and even the weekends. She had a creative difference with the director, and I went over and made a comment, and said “Let’s get this done. It’s 4’o’clock in the morning; let’s get this done.” She said, “I’m not talking to you.” Physical? No. I don’t think either one of us have time for physical.
So, what should we look forward to for the rest of the season? It’s already getting interesting.
You guys haven’t seen anything yet. Stay tuned.