“I Care. We Care.”: LisaRaye on Life, Love and Finding Her Calling
Known for her signature white outfits, this respected actress, model, philanthropist, former First Lady, spokes model, and mother is also spiritually grounded, humble, and determined to walk her divinely authorized path. Intent on not “letting any grass grow underneath” her feet, LisaRaye has now added “director” to her life-resume with her first effort called ‘Skinned’ which seeks to address the epidemic of skin bleaching among many dark-skinned women globally. With almost 20 years in the entertainment industry firmly etched out, this veteran continues to address issues afflicting mankind.
Produced by Studio 11 Films and co-directed by Avery O’Williams, LisaRaye’s directorial debut touches upon an issue that has torn at families and communities worldwide. The underlying reason of why some people bleach their skin – low self-esteem – is something that she regularly addresses with her fans through her various projects. Transparent about her work on ‘self’, LisaRaye now celebrates her growth as an actress and individual. The young woman who portrayed “Diamond” in The Players Club has intentionally evolved into a treasured gem among her fans and holds her head high when reflecting on her body of work. Like natural diamonds which are formed at high temperatures and pressure, this multi-faceted business woman continues to endure and embrace life’s ups-and-downs and stretch herself.
As an actress, she hopes to expose herself through more diverse roles. “I’m really yearning to get some different kind of characters under my belt that even I’m surprised I can play…because I play all types of characters here in my house”, she says before laughing. She expands by saying, “Each job that I’ve had helped me grow. When I did All of Us, I was able to find my comedic timing [and] was known as the black Lucille Ball on TV for awhile.” In this role, she learned a lot about camera angles, breaking down her scrip, ad-libbing, and the master Shot. Lessons learned, in prior roles, helped fine-tune her role as Keisha in Single Ladies.
Her increased comfort level with her comedic timing gave her the strength to explore more of her acting skills and give those in the editing room of Single Ladies different choices. The organic chemistry between her and Malcolm, played by D.B. Woodside, “is awesome! I don’t even have to damn near go over my lines! Our chemistry is so there and it is so amazing to act with a talent that makes the authenticity come out in me.” LisaRaye feels that with VH1 not choosing to continue airing the show God was simply opening another door for her to something bigger and says the following. “It’s always that… It’s always that when one door closes, another door is going to open. You don’t know when but I bet you that whenever you do go through it, you’re going to look back and say, ‘I’m so glad I waited. I’m so glad that other door closed because this opportunity is going to take me to my next!’ And that’s what it’s about…it’s about growth… and I’m definitely trying to grow.” Fans get to enjoy the next season of Single Ladies on Centric, the partner network of BET, which announced earlier this year that the show will return for its fourth season on its network. The show, which previously aired on VH1, is part of a larger partnership agreement with Queen Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit
True to her entrepreneurial spirit, LisaRaye also believes in opening doors. With an infectious yet calm excitement in her voice, she responds with “I know right”, when asked to describe how it feels to see the thought of her hairline products come to fruition. Armed with lessons learned and an affirming spirit, she is now carving out a piece of the multi-billion dollar hair industry and encouraging others to do the same. Of her hair line products, she says, “It was not just for me. It was an opportunity for me to give other people opportunities to own and buy into something.” Salon owners, consumers, cosmetologists, and “people who want to have a side hustle” can be distributors of her Glamour by LisaRaye products which has been showcased at Today’s Black Woman Expo in Chicago and The Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta. Fans have been really excited about the new Diamond Infused Ceramic Flatiron from Red Pro and other products.
She then confidently talks about taking her career to another level. “It’s an exciting time for me right now… of growing and branding. And, it feels incredibly awesome from the power that I feel of the woman that I am today”. Today, her process of thinking and sharing is different. “My process of walking out on faith is even different. When you build a strong sense of faith, that’s hope for things that is unseen that’s gonna come to fruition. I believe that. And the more that you believe that, the easier it is for you to start accepting the obstacles that come because you know it is.” Knowing that there is strength and lessons to be learned in experiences and hardships that one goes through, LisaRaye is intent on soaring to the next level. Chuckling she says, “If you don’t learn it the first time, it’s cool ‘cause it’s going to happen over and over again. It’s designed that way to equip you with the strength that you need to go to the next level.” This industry veteran sees herself as an action hero, in the future and expands by saying “When I did The Real McCoy, I jumped out of a plane! I did the skydive and felt as if I needed to be a superhero! I felt that. Yep! I need to be a sidekick to Angelina Jolie.” Laughing, she says “Maybe it’s the aggression inside of me.”
Regarding what she wishes for her legacy to be, she says “I don’t think I can wish it. I think that my prayer is to be alignment with God’s purpose for my life. And once I catch up to that I will be in Divine Order. I will be doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Every day I get up happy and feeling blessed. I don’t take it for granted that I had yesterday and today. I hope and pray for tomorrow and just living life.” She continues by saying “Right now, being a mature woman, I want to serve and be able to help and make a difference. I know some of my body of work is part of a ministry.” LisaRaye enjoys motivating young teens, divorcees, and young women and does not take their trust in her lightly. “They find something about me that makes them feel like they can trust me and so that helps me be of more service.” As LisaRaye continues to grow and learn more, she feels more comfortable sharing herself and being an example to others. Her transparency about her life allows her to honestly and openly let those watching and listening know that “It’s not just water. It’s not just exercise. It’s not just juicing. It’s not just having a great career. It’s that I’m prayed up. I’m God’s child and I believe in faith. I believe in me. I believe in opportunity and I believe in hope.”
Many would find it hard to believe that this celebrity desires for her body of work and expansively, her life, to be a ministry. In her own words she says, “No one would ever believe that that is a part of who LisaRaye is but that’s my fault because I sold what I knew to sell in the beginning of my career and that was… you know, when I came from Player’s Club, I was themed a sex symbol and I rode that roller-coaster. You know what I mean? So I sold that.” Older and wiser now, she is simply looking for “What’s next? What’s now?” And what’s now is for her to share all of that with people and be able to say, ‘Yeah. Been there. Done that!’ And that’s what it’s about. Life’s about growing. I don’t want to do the same thing I did last year or five years ago at all. I don’t want to do the same thing I did last week! I get bored quick! I want to explore girl! I want to travel. I want to see things I’ve never seen before.” Getting really serious, she adds “I also know that it takes money to be able to solidify certain things in your life such as making sure bills are paid… that your retirement fund is up and you got annuities, a will, life insurance, and you’re taking care of your family. All of that! The cycle of life is real! This is heaven on earth!”
As a philanthropist,LisaRaye stays active as the Global Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen for Breast Cancer where she ran her first marathon a few years ago. “I never even wanted to run a marathon… I’m not running for nothing… not even a cab!” Laughing she goes on to say, “For me to do that and not just be one of those celebrities who just cut the ribbon… to really be a part of the race… the women really appreciated that… the survivors… you know. They really felt like I was a part of it and so did I! It really made me kick up my whole exercise game! And, I wouldn’t have felt that way, I don’t believe, if I hadn’t been that involved in it.” She also has her own foundation called The LadyRaye Foundation that she is revamping. Through it, she runs the Rayediant Jewel Pageant which is a talent pageant for girls. The pageant seeks “the most bizarre and most unique type of talent” where winners receive scholarships for college. She’s also waiting to lend her celebrity and voice to a charity that hits close to home.
Her other projectsinclude a t-shirt line, an upcoming one-woman show, and a book. Regarding love, she says “He has to find me. I’m not looking for him so he definitely has to find me. But I’m telling you when I get married this time or engaged, I’m sho’ gonna do it right. So that’s the next thing. That’s the next segment in my life that you’ll be reading about. Not the rumors, not the ‘she’s engaged to this pastor.’ None of that. It ain’t gonna be no rumors. It’s gonna be real because you’re going to see the rock on my hand.”