DRAYA MICHELE EVERYONE LOVES TO HATE HER
BY EMMANUEL URENA
Before entering the realm of reality television, Draya Michele’s name was already making its rounds in the media. The former girlfriend of R&B singer, Chris Brown, came under fire when—in the earlier part of 2011—she was arrested and charged with child endangerment. Needless to say, when the 25-year-old model/actress was invited to join the cast of “Basketball Wives L.A.,” she had a few misconceptions that she had to straighten out with the rest of the ladies—a task that, as seen in some of the episodes, was easier said than done.
Fast forward a few months later, and we find that Draya has taken all of the negative onslaughts of ill press and preconceived notions thrown her way and turned it all into a platform to catapult her into superstardom. Today, the girl who everyone loved to hate, has risen to one of the lead roles on BWLA, has initiated a burgeoning acting career, and is getting ready to debut a bikini line set to drop on us just in time for the holidays.
Black Men: How did you land the reality show gig?
Draya Michele: I met Gloria [Govan] through acting class, and since she was already on the show, I just became friends through her friends, and they made me a part of the show.
BM: Gloria [Govan] stated that she brought you on to add a different dynamic to their lifestyle, sort of like to play the “enemy.” Were you prepared for all of that?
DM: I wasn’t prepared to be the enemy or the villain, and I don’t think it’s turning out like that. I think I was supposed to be the enemy or the villain, but I shocked everybody and everybody loves me. I end up being the favorite—and not in a bad way. I’m the favorite in a good way. I have an awesome personality, so it’s undeniable.
BM: How exactly are you connected to the pro basketball scene?
DM: I really don’t have any connection, as far as basketball stuff. I’m not connected to any players. I’m just me. I’m just doing my thing in L.A., so they kind of make it work. I started as just her friend, but I moved up to main cast member.
BM: How do you feel about the “groupie jump off” moniker that you were tagged with from the jump?
DM: Well, when that issue first came about, I knew how to handle it ‘cause it’s not the first time that I have heard something like that. I walked into a room of five women, and when they judged me only two of them actually happened to be married. Marriage is really the only title that matters, if you want to be technical. Everybody started as the girlfriend, and before you were even the girlfriend you were something else, too. What is the girl before she’s a girlfriend? What is that called?
BM: A jump off?
DM: Exactly. You didn’t just meet a guy and he made you his girlfriend right away. It doesn’t work like that. Everybody had their jump off moments in their life, so I don’t think that term is that big of a deal.
BM: Do you think coming into the picture the way you did gave you more publicity?
DM: Absolutely! Every time that they mention my name it makes me more popular. They’re talking about me in a bad, but I’m only showing everybody good stuff, so they kind of look bad.
BM: A few of the ladies on the original Basketball Wives show have expressed how they don’t really like the way they’ve been portrayed, not just individually, but as a whole. They feel it gives the people who are watching a negative perception of African American women. How do you feel about the way women are portrayed on the shows?
DM: I feel that no one has a gun to our heads. If anybody is upset about the way that they look on camera, it’s kind of like how you present yourself. I know that the cameras are around me twenty-four-seven, so I’m going to conduct myself as a lady the entire time, by all means. You’re in charge of what you do and say. If you said what you said, and you did what you did, then you did it, and it’s going to show. There are no special effects. They can’t add anything in.
BM: I know that at times they edit some stuff out. Now, watching it on TV, do you think they cut anything out from your appearances?
DM: As far as what’s been on, they didn’t cut anything of me. I’m all up in there, all through there, so I’m pleased because you get to see me—a lot of me.
BM: In the last episode, we saw that some of the ladies began to sort of accept you. How are the relations going to be down the line?
DM: Well, everything changes. I can’t give away too much, but a lot changes. Personalities change. Friendships change. There’s a lot that happens.
BM: Some of the other ladies on the show have expressed that they felt that you’re just lost, and they want to help you out and guide you. Will we begin to see some of their “big sister” efforts take place in the coming episodes?
DM: There are points where they find themselves mentoring me. I listen to what they have to say because they’re older than me, and they’ve been through some different things. They do help me out a little bit, and they attempt to mentor me, and it’s all in a positive way.
BM: How are relations presently with the rest of the cast?
DM: Our relationships are okay. They always could be better, but once you’ve tried, if it’s not going to be bells and whistles, then there’s no point in trying to make a friendship out of anything.
BM: In one of the upcoming episodes you all take an MMA class and during a sparring session with Laura [Govan], she got a little extra rough with you. Would you care to discuss that situation?
DM: Nobody wanted to get in the cage and actually practice. The only one that wanted to do it was Laura [Govan], and I was like, “Well, I’m going to do it because I’m not going to look like a punk.” Well, when we get in there, she doesn’t do anything that we learned. We kind of started really fighting, and it caught me off guard because we didn’t have a problem up until then. She just started street fighting out of nowhere. We ended up fighting, and then they asked me if I wanted to do round two, and I’m like, “Yeah!” You just really fought me, so we’re going to have to really fight now. So we go our two rounds, and after that she acts like there wasn’t a problem, but to me that was just some sucker sh… some sucker stuff.
BM: Did all of that get cleared up, or are you two still beefing?
DM: I mean, it gets worked out a little bit, but not a hundred percent.
BM: Who is Draya? How would you like to be perceived moving forward?
DM: I just want to be perceived for what I really am. What I really am is a hardworking mother, and I just like to take care of my family, and help out whenever I can. I just want people to know that I’m not offensive. I don’t want to be known as this raunchy woman. I just want to be known as the person who can make people laugh, make the whole room smile, and feel comfortable because that’s what I like to do. I don’t like to be offensive.
BM: The next question is for the dudes drooling over your photos right now. Are you single?
DM: I’m not married if that’s what they want to know. I mean, I am seeing somebody, and you know, it’s always up in the air with us, so you never know. But as of right now, I am involved.
BM: Is he someone we may know?
DM: No, he’s nobody you may know.
BM: Will we get to see this person later on during the season?
DM: You will get to see him throughout the show a little bit.
BM: Aside from the show, what are some other projects that you’re working on now?
DM: I’m working on a few independent films. People have been sending me scripts left and right. I’m just kind of going through them and weeding out what I want to do. Mostly, I’m just taking my acting classes and working on my skills. I started my own business. I started a very sexy bikini line that I’m pushing right now, and that’s my number one project. Everything should be ready like around Christmas time for that. Hopefully, people will be able to purchase some of the items for Christmas.