ATLANTA — When it comes to keeping it real, LisaRaye McCoy (though let’s be honest, there’s no need for a last name here) has the game on lock. The actress stars in VH1’s hit scripted series Single Ladies —the show returns Memorial Day weekend—and much like her character, the former video vixen Keisha Greene, LisaRaye is a shoot-it-from-the-hip kind of woman. EBONY.com hung out with the actress on the set of the series and in her trailer, ate lunch and soaked up all the things happening in this single lady’s world.
For starters, she says the show, which premiered last season, was therapy post a very high profile divorce. The actress is the former First Lady of the Turks and Caicos Islands. And for about a year or so—her life was the stuff tabloid editors dream of. Her ex-husband Michael Misick, was the Premier of the British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean, and their post marital bliss was a tailspin of financial mismanagement, infidelity and any other news lines we like to sneak and read in the supermarket checkout line. Before she jumped back into doing scripted television, she had a departure in the reality world, with her show The Real McCoy, which aired on TV One for a few seasons. At the time, she wanted to tell her story on her own terms. Plus, she adds while munching on lunch, she needed the money.
Even though we tuned in for that reality show— it was one of the network’s highest rated shows at the time and with the VH1 scripted series, we saw what we have long imagined LisaRaye to be like in real life. Fiesty. Opinionated. And the kind of chick that doesn’t put up with any relationship tomfoolery. Turns out, we were right. Here’s what else the actress —and ahem, she’s single and knows exactly who she wants—shared with us:
EBONY.com: How close to LisaRaye is Keisha Greene?
LisaRaye: I actually see a little bit of myself in all the characters. As women we’re chameleons, so I can identify with all of them. Keisha and LisaRaye are very opinionated. I’m the mother hen of all my friends. She’s more out there. She has all these philosophies about love and she can’t get her own love life together. That’s like LisaRaye.
EBONY.com: What’s your philosophy on love? Any advice for other single ladies?
LR: For me, I intimidate a lot of men, because I’ve done a lot. I’m established. I’m successful. I’ve been a former first lady so a lot of men are like, ‘Oh my God, how can I step to her now? She was a wife of a president.’ I’m not looking to be filled, I’m looking to be fulfilled. I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t quite that in my marriage. There was not the love in which was for better or worse type of love in my marriage. This time around, if you ever hear that I’m getting married, which I hope will be soon —but doesn’t mean I’m dating anybody—I’ll be in love this time. I’m not going to do it unless it’s done right. I think Keisha hides a lot of her feelings but LisaRaye doesn’t. I’m a very upfront and honest person, especially now at my age. I don’t have time to waste. I want to really be happy.
EBONY.com: What really brought you to that point where you are comfortable to just tell it like it is?
LR: I’ve always been that way, but I think when a woman goes through such a tragedy like I did with my divorce, you kind of step back and reassess things and reflect. I learned from my mistakes, I was able to accept the things that were my fault and to be able to grow from that. You have to be able to see growth from your experiences and I’ve done that.
EBONY.com: Did going back to work—and on this show—help get you there quicker?
LR: Yeah. I was extremely busy last year. I was crazed. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about what I was actually going through. I was actually exceptionally ecstatic to get Single Ladies, because that made me be able to say, ‘I’m back to doing what I do.‘
EBONY.com: How has life changed for you since doing this show?
LR: I have now different nationalities that’s coming up to me more so now. I have a younger generation that’s also remembering who LisaRaye is, not just from Player’s Club. I have little boys that come up to me and go, ‘I seen Player’s Club!’ And I’m like, ‘How old are you?!’
EBONY.com: But you’re still a single lady …
LR: I don’t have time. I like to vacation a lot. So when I go vacation, I normally go and just tell my girls to meet me there, get themselves there and I’ll rent a house. I’ll take a month off and go to Europe and then I’ll take another month off and go to Mexico.
EBONY.com: You mentioned earlier, that you have an affinity for dark chocolate men, but since other nationalities are approaching you, are you open to dating anyone and everyone now?
LR: Oh absolutely. I’m looking for a European man. If not, an Italian. An Italian stallion. Mmmm…
EBONY.com: Who’s your ideal man?
LR: Spiritual, powerful, established, successful and with all that comes wealth, so I don’t have to say that. He has to be giving, a family person. I’m very family. I’m like, pajama-party-style everything. And a cultured person … a person that likes to be well-traveled and diverse. I have traveled the world and I’m not done. I want somebody that don’t want no more kids. I’m cool on that. My daughter is 22.
EBONY.com: So, no younger men, then?
LR: No. I’m not into younger men. A couple of years younger, maybe, but I’m not a cougar. I’m not a panther either. But I’m not through with my man description! I need them to have an open schedule, because when you’re your own boss, then you don’t have to tell me about vacation days and sick days you have to take. When I want to go, I want to go. You know? And someone that is very understandable and very open-minded, because in my business you have to be. I don’t need nobody insecure. I need you to note that I’m looking for love and I want to love and I want to give that love away. I want somebody very honest and my best friend. I want the foundation of that relationship to be a friendship.
EBONY.com: What’s something that you would love for people to know about you that may not be so obvious?
LR: As hard as I am— or they think I am—I’m sensitive. Watching Whitney Houston’s funeral, a funeral has a way of making you reassess your life. You know what I mean? I was like, ‘Who gon’ be at my funeral? Did I put everything in order for my baby? Oh, I gotta do that.’ It just makes you do that and it makes you start caring more about the world that we’re in. You know? I don’t think people really realize that. Sometimes people think because I’m so hard that they forget that I’m a girl or they forget that I’m a daughter. It’s like, No, I’ve cried too. I’ve hurt too. I’ve been cheated on too. I’ve been all of that. I’m a woman. You know? So they forget that.
EBONY.com: You’ve never been shy to talk about the ending of your marriage …
LR: Oh girl. I came back and my assets were frozen. I hadn’t got a divorce settlement nor alimony and I just came back like Tina Turner, just with my name. How did I get here? From a fairy tale to a nightmare? My house was protected, because my house was in a trust in my daughter’s name years before. But after sitting in my room realizing what point I was at, it was like, OK, no is not an option. My daughter will not see me squat on this floor crying any longer. What’s the plan here? What can I do? And that’s when the business side of me said, If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Reality TV. Everybody wants to know about this story, they keep writing what they think happened, let me be able to tell ‘em, because you need to hear that story from the horse’s mouth and I’m that horse. And God has a way of putting you on your knees when you go through things to make you remember who to give the glory to and the thanks to and I forgot that I was just living. It was nobody but God that got me through it. I like what he taught me, and I like what I’m learning now, and I like the process of how I’m moving forward with faith. I’m not worried about anything anymore. I’m not hyperventilating, stressing the hell out. I’m not doing it, it’s not worth it. You know what I mean? I like to live too much.
EBONY.com: Stacey Dash isn’t on the show anymore and Denise Vasi is the new girl. What’s it like working with her?
LR: We don’t have a lot of time to be able to find our chemistry or our relationship. We’re on the set 16 hours a day, every day. So it’s really about when we get here, we’re in hair and makeup, we may say, ‘Hey, hi,’ whatever, but a history of a relationship I can’t really speak on it, because we’re finding it as we’re doing the work. So unfortunately it’s a little too soon for me to kind of answer that. She’s been wonderful; a great addition. She’s beautiful, she’s very kind. She’s stepped in and just made the tone of the set nothing like it was last year … I’ll say that.
EBONY.com: Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge?
LR: (laughs) Exactly.
EBONY.com: I like the new haircut. Is that Keisha’s new haircut for this season?
LR: I had nothing to do with this. This is Shanika, the woman who is over the hair department. She watched Single Ladies last year and she wanted to give Keisha a whole new look of pa-dow coming back. And when she told me about this and the layers and the color and the cut I said, Absolutely. We can have people wearing a bob all over again. I like it. And then I’m trying to stay brown, because I’m trying to stay in the sun. So maybe the highlights and my eyes and my tan will help me get a man.