During the interview, I particularly appreciated LisaRaye McCoy's caring nature, her love of her work and those around her, and her honesty. She is a truly unique individual. In addition to interviewing this classy superstar actress over the phone, I was also blessed to meet her at the "Stomp The City Iconic Awards" in Memphis, and it was no different there. In addition to her stunning exterior, the actress was also gorgeous inside. In our interview, we discussed many topics about life, womanhood, motherhood, and career; here is what she told me about her journey to success.
Hi LisaRaye! Hi Gina, thank you for pronouncing my name correctly. Many people call me Lisa, but my name is LisaRaye, so thank you for that.
My pleasure! Having the opportunity to speak with you is such an honor and a privilege. I am so proud of your accomplishments and all the beauty, talent, and class you possess. I think you’re amazing! I feel the same way, girl.
Thank you so much! I hope your afternoon is going well. You know what? I haven't even gotten out of bed yet, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working. Most of my work is done from bed, including making phone calls, reading emails, and organizing my schedule.
While packing for a 17-day trip, I have things scattered all over the place, so I am still working.
I love it! It's understandable. I know how hectic packing and flying these days can be. What would you say is the most productive time of day for you? I would say I'm most productive at night. Here's why. I seem to get a second wind when the house is quiet, and everyone is asleep. I can concentrate, think and move around without any interruptions and sounds. My granddaughter lives here, and if I hear the pitter-patter of her feet running around or even her crying, I'm like, hey, what's going on? What's happening? Am I missing something, or kiss me. It's always something going on, so I'm most productive when it's quiet, maybe from midnight to around two or three o'clock in the morning.
That's awesome! I love to get up at 3:00 am, pray and spend time with God before all the crazy things happen during the day. By 7:00 am, it's like the black Friday sale at Walmart, with everyone waiting outside to get that TV on sale for a penny. They all rush in! LisaRaye, when I look at you, I see a stunningly beautiful black queen with an amazing physique. I'll be turning 50 in October; what advice would you give to women over 40 to help them look their best and feel their best? Water is essential for our bodies. The phrase is heard all the time, but I've been experiencing it on an entirely different level. Because I've been drinking more water while losing weight, I can see the film formed when fat is flushed out of my body through urine.
Yes. Flushing your body is so important. Even when we get massages, they'll either give us warm tea or tell us to drink water because when they are massaging us, all the acid that comes from them massaging us needs to be flushed out of our bodies. It’s also important to stay hydrated, so our skin is not wrinkled and dry.
My girlfriend and I have noticed swelling in our feet from a plane ride. Then my assistant, an airline attendant, says, “water.” Then we asked her, "does that mean that we don't have enough water in our bodies? She said, "exactly." I'm like, wow, I didn't realize how essential water is to our body's functionality. There is still a lot I need to learn about its importance.
People have different theories about how much water you should drink daily, but I think you should drink what is appropriate for your body to stay hydrated and adequately flushed. Whether it's a gallon or half a gallon, I don't know what's right for you. But I know you should drink enough water to flush your system daily so that your urine is clear and not yellow. You don't want anyone to go into the bathroom after you with yellow urine.
That's so true. Water is so necessary. Yes, water cleanses everything, including the bladder, the kidney, and the liver, which are all vital parts of our bodies. Water is my best friend now.
Water is one of the most important things for people of all ages to consume because our bodies lose it over time, especially as we grow older. The thing about water is that you must be intentional and purposeful about it because living in a fast-paced world makes it so easy to forget about it. Gina, I'll tell you something, it's not easy because I can carry a bottle of water all day without even opening it. My thought is that I won't have time to take a bathroom break, so I'll drink this water after this meeting or after this appointment. Thus, there is no water consumed.
I feel bloated when trying to fill my belly up at night. Throughout the day, the wisest thing to do is to make a conscious decision to drink a glass of water at that moment instead of having a drink or something fruity with sugar and calories. Therefore, I must consciously decide to drink water throughout the day to hydrate myself constantly. So, my answer to that question is "ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, water!"
Having time to stop and use the bathroom. At my age, I can't even drive from Palm Springs to San Diego without having to pull over at least once to use the bathroom, so I hear you. But water is a must, and it is essential for our health indeed. How would you encourage the many mothers who have raised their families and whose children have left home or gone off to college but now that mother has lost her way and isn't sure what to do next in their own life? Is there anything you would tell the lost woman to encourage them? I would say the same thing to them that I'm going to say to myself because I am in that same position. I'm still taking care of people in my house. My daughter and granddaughter are living with me, and my mother is also. Therefore, there are four generations under one roof. Some days are better than others, and some days are more challenging.
One of the things that I think is particularly important not only for myself but also for women is to find that "me" time. Like drinking water, setting aside personal time for peace and serenity is also vital for the body's health.
I've chosen a profession that I adore. One of the things I love about what I do is that I get a chance to go out of town, mingle, meet new people, make new friends, and play different roles while acting. It’s quite fulfilling for me. So, I frequently get breaks.
But I will say this; you must ensure that you have an excellent partner in your corner, whether that's your significant other, a friend, a good assistant, a daughter, or whomever. I am lucky enough to have someone who watches me and can tell me, "You need a little bit of "me" time. I think it's time for you to unplug and recharge somewhere."
And when she says that to me, it stops me in my tracks because it makes me think she sees something I don't see. At that moment, I'm in robotic mode. I'm just going on and on and on. Your life and lifestyle will be significantly influenced by the people in your life and the company you keep.
I'm very thankful to have her in my life, someone who can stop me in my tracks and remind me to smell the roses. We cannot forget about our “me” time.
Right now, our world is going through a difficult time. Currently, our country is experiencing mental illness, racial tensions, and the deprivation of our rights. Furthermore, people tell you to stay optimistic, but trying to do so when there's nothing but negativity around you is hard. Nevertheless, we need to find a place of peace amid all this unrest. Look inward and find the small things you appreciate most about life because if you don't, you'll go crazy.
Keeping up with "The Joneses" and figuring out where the world is going amid a pandemic and recession is affecting global spending. Our food is being taken away. The grocery store has less food than it used to, and they tamper with our meats and vegetables. The world is in a state of flux. It's just a matter of surviving at this point. Therefore, it is of grave importance to maintain a state of sanity. By binge-watching my favorite television shows, I can relax and unwind.
By slowing down and smelling the roses, I've found many amazing shows on TV. It has been so overwhelming that I haven't even noticed my friends have television shows that I didn't know I needed to support.
This helps me as an actress to understand why I'm in the business that I'm in, but it also allows me to support them and see their body of work. In a fun way, I compete with them by saying, "I didn't know that she was doing that." Consequently, it motivates me to get up and do blah, blah, blah. It helps me check myself. Therefore, I would encourage the many women going through a midlife crisis to make that crisis work for them. Don't lose yourself, nor forget about your past and what you used to do.
It's even healthy to pick up a hobby. You're right because I didn't have a hobby or anything I had to do. Gym buffs with combed and tight bodies love going to the gym. And you can tell that they love going by the way their body looks. I even have friends that play tennis and golf every weekend, and I'm asking myself, what do I like to do every weekend besides traveling and shopping? What's my hobby? So, I'm in a place where I'm trying to find my passion and a hobby I'll enjoy.
Once I find that passion, I would love to share with other women the process of my journey and how I arrived there. Perhaps my experience can help them so they won’t lose bits and pieces of themselves.
LisaRaye, regarding stepping out into your God-given destiny, what would you say was your first courageous move? When I moved from Chicago to LA. That was a big move for me because my family was well-to-do and popular in Chicago. So, I was like a little Princess there. I understood money and power and enjoyed the fruits of my family's labor.
It was basically all laid out for me in advance. When my father was murdered, the rug was ripped out from under me.
Oh no! I’m so sorry. Thank you. Yeah, it took me for a tailspin. Then I became pregnant and gave birth to my daughter. Having someone to care for saved my life and gave me life simultaneously. In other words, it forced me to take my life seriously. I had to start thinking like a mother now that I was a mother. In the following years, I focused on how I would provide for her and what career choice I would make.
Before that, I hadn't done too much of anything. I was just a model in Chicago that did one little independent film. But interestingly enough, the director of the film I was in encouraged me to move to California with just that little body of work I did. He saw something in me that made him believe I was capable of going to LA and competing with everyone else. I took his advice and came to California for a couple of weeks. Although I intended to find an agent and manager, during that time, I found neither. But being in California just felt good and right.
So, I went back to Chicago and told my mother I was moving to California, but she didn't believe me. She was like, yeah, right! Many people don't take it seriously whenever you share your dream about wanting to be in the entertainment business. Unless you "make it," they don't put too much stock on it.
I hear you. So, true. Yes, so it was almost like, "what are you going to do in the mean in-between time?" The truth was that I didn't even have a plan B, so plan A had to work.
(Laughs) I hear you! I think that's what set me aside because it wasn’t an option. So that was one of the most courageous moves I personally made in my life. I say that because I was very comfortable in Chicago and could have been OK with complacently, but I was not because something else was calling me. To this day, I don’t regret my courageous move to California. I'm glad about it because if I had not made that decision to be brave and fearless, I never would have found this side of me, nor would I be living the lifestyle I'm living. Furthermore, I wouldn't have met the people I've met and accomplished the things I've accomplished. The best part of this story is that everything worked out how it was supposed to.
I'm glad I was on the bandwagon that I didn't have to be pulled, yanked along, screaming, and shouting. But instead, I was skipping and hopping. In the end, my decision proved to be correct, and it was a perfect fit.
During my biopic interviews, now and then, someone will say something to me that will resonate very deeply. Today, you said something I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I love what you said about Plan B was not an option. That's a powerful statement, LisaRaye! If more people adopted that viewpoint in life, there would be a greater likelihood of people achieving their dreams. So, thank you for that. That’s powerful! That's something worth holding onto.
LisaRaye, I’m going to be vulnerable with you at this moment because there is something in my heart that I want to discuss with you and see your viewpoint regarding this subject matter. Ok.
Thank you. The stigma of having to be a strong black woman is ingrained in many black women. I understand that no other race of women must bear the weight of this statement, although I could be wrong. Our load as black women can often feel overwhelming, especially when we have a lot to carry.
A friend and I were discussing what it means to be a strong black woman not long ago. Despite its positive implications, I believe that statement can also be destructive. In a positive sense, if you go through a difficult time, you must find a way to power through it. If you are single and don't have a husband to help shoulder some of the burdens, you must do whatever is necessary to provide for your children despite your anxiety.
In contrast, it becomes destructive when there is no outlet for expressing pain, heartache, or anything of the sort without being labeled weak. As black women, we are expected to be strong in our culture. At times, I wondered why I couldn't just be a woman. Is there a reason I can't be human like everyone else?
Although we are just women, black culture expects us to be superhuman. In my opinion, one of the contributing factors to so much mental illness in our black community is the heavy load placed upon black women, even from childhood, to be strong black women. I believe there needs to be an outlet for people to express themselves and someone willing to listen. Through this process, we heal and find the strength to continue pursuing our goals. What are your thoughts on this topic? I think you're absolutely right. There are so many cliches, and metaphors out there like, what goes up must come down or what comes around goes around. People previously thought that if something worked for them, they should pass it on.
I think it's important for us to remain open-minded and understand that change will always come, and nothing stays the same. Our parents' stories of their experiences cannot apply to the present since they went through them long ago. It's, therefore, a matter of combining what they went through with what we know now and what the future holds.
You must be allowed to feel what you feel. You must let out what needs to be let out because stress is a killer. Stress is cancerous. People can suppress something within their spirit and soul so much that they crack up on the inside, but the pain goes undetected on the outside so that no one even knows something is wrong.
You're doing yourself a disservice by doing so. Therefore, crying does not make you weak. Occasionally, people cry out of anger! Do you get what I'm saying?
Yes. People have even cried due to compassion. People cry for a variety of reasons, including pain and sorrow. Can you imagine what the world would be like if people walked around without emotion? It would be impossible for us to determine where anyone was coming from. I am a person who is very in touch with my feelings. Sometimes I watch the news and cry, wondering, "why did they do that, or what's going on?"
But I believe that that's what makes us human, and if we displayed more compassion for one another in the world, the community, and our families, the world would be a better place. Just like the Bible says, love your neighbor as yourself.
Love can make the world a better place, but if we don't spread it and show it, we will walk around not caring about anyone. It is important to remember that we are not alone in this world. Without the support of our families, friends, and other people in this world, we would not be able to get along.
Therefore, if we don't want to be isolated, and if we don't want to create a world without compassion, we must start showing compassion to those who are suffering. Take the risk of being different, stand out, and express your emotions.
Since I'm somewhat of a rebel, I don't always follow the norm. I play devil's advocate all the time and have strong opinions. I always strive to give the other person a voice because I am a "what if this happened, or what if they thought like this" type of person.
Because I think this way, I sometimes get in trouble on the Internet. Some feedback includes comments such as, "LisaRaye said this," or "LisaRaye said that." In my opinion, I am simply launching a discussion that may lead to a different perspective and a different way of looking at things.
Talking and agreeing all the time may not yield the results I need from the agreement. Therefore, I think it’s important to turn up and shake the table a little so something else can come out. Then, it will be like, wow, I never would have gotten that if she had never said this. Therefore, I am a stand-up leader, which means I stand up for what I believe in. In other words, I will give it to you raw, I will feel what I feel, and I will be honest in my approach.
You can move on if you remain true to yourself because time does not wait for anyone. We do not have the option or luxury to stand still in a progressive world. There is no way to avoid change because change is inevitable for everyone, even if you park in neutral. But, as you progress in your growth process, you will fall and get back up as we always do.
Yes, that's awesome. I think deeply about things and what I've come to realize is that everything is not what it seems to appear on the surface. Often, it takes pulling back many layers to reveal reality. For example, some people make the statement as to why so many black girls have attitudes, but I can't help but think deeper into that statement, like, "if that's your perception of some black woman, then why is that?" I believe that for every symptom, there is a cause.
If I choose to look at it from a loving perspective, especially as a Christian woman, it would be reasonable to conclude that they may have an unhealed wound. A person carrying pain without expressing it creates bitterness, reclusiveness, hopelessness, and silence. From another perspective, what if those black women perceived to have an attitude had a true friend who would listen to them, love them, and help them heal?
Then maybe their demeanor would brighten, and their hope for a more promising future would regain traction. Love can heal the world.
And as a Christian woman, I believe that knowing and understanding God's love, how much God loves us, and what he did by sending His Son, Christ Jesus, into this world to give his life for us it's the most excellent demonstration of love imaginable.
Therefore, when we allow God's love to be in us, we can spread that love to others, and they, in return, can find their healing and begin to spread that love to someone else who needs it. Only when we genuinely allow God's love to flow through us in when we're able to live unselfish lives and focus on how we can touch others in life-changing ways. It's almost like that game we used to play as children called freeze tag. When someone is bound, someone who is free will touch them, and they can be free again.
But bringing it back to the surface, we, black women, are sometimes expected to carry a massive weight with no outlet for expression. And when we try to reach out, we are immediately shut down, dismissed, and refocused on being strong black women. My love for others leads me to understand why these women express their frustration outwardly. It’s a heavy load. Yes, It's heavy. I do vision board workshops and believe there is power in manifesting your words. I'm really into that. So, as I'm teaching, reaching, and preaching, I say, “Here’s your chance for an opportunity to share your life experience with the people in the room.”
During that time, so much stuff comes up. Traditionally many women utilize the time of beautification, going to our beauticians and our nail techs; we frequently use that time for purging. Our beauticians become our psychologists. We sit in those chairs just talking and telling.
After leaving these workshops, I felt full of joy because I knew that I had laid out an atmosphere in which they felt comfortable and trusted me enough to share the most intimate parts of their life. The feeling was incredible!
I remember asking myself, "why are they telling me all these things?" Suddenly, I realized, why not me? It seems that something about me makes them feel at ease with me and makes me relatable to them. As a result, they trust what I have to say and value my advice. They needed to hear a positive word.