R & B artist first; screen actor second, Demetria McKinney is still paying dues and is enthusiastically walking in her worth, recently releasing her single “Easy” off her forthcoming and long awaited album Officially Yours. With the songs’ sultry beat and no bs lyrics, it is quickly gaining major potential in becoming the new female empowerment anthem. Not only preparing for the release of her album, she is also busy helping promote Bounce TV’s second season of “Saints and Sinners” as well as BET’s newest show “The Quad,” where she has a recurring role playing the mother to main character and troubled youth Cedric Hobbs. With her multi-award winning television show “House of Payne” gaining a spinoff on OWN, her annual Single Mother’s Day Brunch and future promising tour dates, McKinney has quite a bit to look forward too.
Newly single and placing music back at the center of her attention, EGL cover girl, Demetria McKinney found time to come back and speak with us about some of her new favorites, our new commander-in-chief as well as her two new ambassador positions. If you haven’t seen her newest video “Easy”, you can check it out here. Enjoy this EGL exclusive with the always spirited, Demetria McKinney.
EGL: Thank you for carving out some time in your busy schedule to speak with us again, here at EGL. We really appreciate it.
D.M: Thank you for having me!
EGL: Let’s get straight to it, shall we? Demetrians have been waiting for “Officially Yours” for a long while now. Any update on the album release date?
D.M.: The last thing I wanted to do is release a piece of work that wasn’t ready, or what I considered wasn’t ready, so I took my time with this one. No set date yet but it is officially to be released late spring/early summer.
EGL: A lot, if not most of the songs you sing tell a story (which I personally love), and the narrative in your new single “Easy” is so empowering. What was the writing process like coming up with these lyrics?
D.M.: I’m glad so many women find the empowerment in this song. Co-written with Courtlin Jabrae and Devon Horton, I was thinking a lot about how sometimes we women give so much of ourselves, forgetting that having standards and knowing our worth as women is a major factor in the relationships we entertain.
EGL: If you had the immediate opportunity to collaborate with anyone on their next project, who would it be?
D.M.: (no hesitation) Drake! I love how unafraid he is; he’s unapologetically who he is and I love it.
EGL: I’ve read that Whitney Houston is one of your greatest inspirations. What are your top 3 favorite Whitney Houston’s songs?
D.M.: “You Give Good Love,” “I Will Always Love You” and “The Greatest Love of All.”
Demetria has been pegged to play Whitney Houston in the TV One prospective Bobbie Kristina biopic, and it’s come with quite a bit of backlash but Demetria wasn’t just going to take it. She released a statement saying, “Whitney was very protective of her baby girl. And loved her dearly as we saw on being Bobby Brown. Whitney had people she trusted to show and tell that story and I think that once people understand the heart behind the biopic if one is made, the opinions will shift.”
EGL: What’s the most exciting part about getting back to work with Tyler Perry?
D.M.: What’s the most exciting part about getting to work with Tyler Perry? Getting to work with Tyler Perry! It’s been such a long time since we’ve worked together and I can’t wait see how he’s grown and what next I can learn from him.
EGL: What do viewers have to look forward too with “The Paynes”?
D.M.: It’s [going to be] kind of amazing to see how he’s [Tyler Perry] developed the characters and their storylines, and where he looks to go with things. There is a lot for them to look forward too and there is going to be some surprises along the way.
EGL: Now, I will be honest, I hadn’t watched your show “Saints and Sinners” until I had this opportunity to speak with you, but all I can say is WHOA! It starts with the peddle to the medal and doesn’t slow down all season! What can viewers look forward to in this second season of “Saints and Sinners?”
D.M.: Oh, wow. You know, the thing was, when they said we were coming back for a second season, and had actually broken Bounce [TV Network] record, it was great; but then there was this “what do we do now?” moment. I felt like season one had so many different twist and turns and character developments that it was gonna be kind of hard to top it, but let me tell you something; they did it! Viewers are gonna be really excited. There is all kinds of mayhem going on and I think that the beautiful part about it, aside from everything else I have gotten to do, is the fact that these are people that you might be sitting next to in your church. These are people looking to find their way; looking to find their redemption sometimes, and sometimes not. I think it’s the realism of [the show] that’s gonna draw everybody in; and the way that these characters shift and move together, OMG! I can’t wait, you guys have to tune in!
EGL: What do you have to say to church goers who feel that shows like this one is not necessarily the best for the faith based community?
D.M.: Honey, we have had saints and sinners in our churches and communities since the church started. That’s why we have a pastor, that why we have Sunday school, that why we have Wednesday Bible study, choir rehearsal. That’s why we have prayer vigils, that’s why we have sick and shut in- we have had [these things] happening for a really long time, and so I think that instead of looking at it as an opportunity to say “yawl are displaying us in a bad light,” let’s pay attention to some of the things that are being discussed, and let’s open up the conversation. It’s being told in a very real way; but the less we talk about it and actually start doing something is when we win on both sides.
EGL: Speaking of real, have you been watching this season of RHOA?
D.M.: Girrrrllll, listen! When I tell you I’m so glad I’m gone. You know, before [coming on the show] even knowing the boundaries were a bit being scarce, I still felt like there would be certain places that wouldn’t be treaded upon, but naw, they proved me wrong! They really know how to go all the way in, honey.
EGL: Are you still in touch with any of the ladies?
D.M.: I’m still in touch with Kandi. I’m still really cool with Cynthia, and there are a few others I’m really rooting for to win but when I heard that they were really coming for my girl Kandi [this season] I was like “wait a minute, let me see what this is about.” Because that’s the one they don’t want it with.
EGL: I know music is your first love, but who are some prominent actors or directors you have yet to get creative with, but would love to do business with them in the future?
D.M.: Directors, I want to work with them all. There is something to learn with each person. There’s a different color, there’s a different vantage point. I’m looking forward to learning from Scorsese and all of them but I want to get the work. That creates the opportunities for the stories that I want to tell. Now, as far as actors, go, OMG! Charlize Theron, Don Cheadle, Denzel Washington, and Al Pacino. There is a plethora of others, and honestly if I could just have one of them say “Okay” and get to shadow them for a day, just observing and learning, that would be awesome, but those are definitely my top 4.
EGL: What keeps you so grounded and humbled having been in the entertainment business for over a decade?
D.M.: I remember that it’s exactly what you called it, a business. Businesses go down every day. Mom and Pops stores close down. When people are unemployed, they’re unemployed and that includes actors. Sometimes music doesn’t take off the way you want it to, and at the end of the day, the person you began as is what you have to salvage. Between my publicist and road manager/assistant, my team is really good at keeping me grounded. My son, my bottom-line, has been my anchor since he was born 18 years ago (him and God, but that goes without saying). I feel like I have a good balance of people to keep me together in times when things get really stressful.
EGL: Growing up as, what you call a “military brat,” what are your thoughts on our new commander-in-chief?
D.M.: I’m sorry, I know yawl not gonna like this but that ain’t my president. I don’t think he represents anything that I stand for, period; that is why I did not vote for him. He is sexist, he is racist, he is a bigot, he is an absolute contradiction of everything that this country stands for, IN MY OPINION. The things we have seen happen since he’s taken office is indicative of that. The relationships we have as far as countries, like Puerto Rico no longer wanting to be a part of the U.S. is a sign that he’s not where he needs to be. On top of that, I don’t think he really knows what he’s doing.
EGL: Being newly single, what advice can you give women struggling with getting over an ex?
D.M.: I think that women are so very in tuned with our emotions that sometimes the cerebral part goes missing. As much as it may hurt, you have to remember yourself. You have to remember yourself more than you remember how you feel for that person. Remember what you feel for you. And if it’s a situation that you really can’t get over, then maybe you’re not done. But, once you go back, remember you chose to go back; you can’t blame anyone else. Take responsibility for you.
EGL: Are there any specific charities or organizations where you’re actively involved?
D.M.: I am involved with the American Heart Association. I’m one of their newest ambassadors. They’ve just been serving the community for such a long time, in ways that we didn’t even really know about and I love that they are really diversifying the way that they are. We’ve got some amazing plan to bring more awareness to giving back to the heart, which means mental, financial and communal stability. American Heart Association has found a way to encompass it all and that’s what I’m really excited about.
EGL: Tell us about your new ambassadorship with haircae veteran brand Dark & Lovely.
D.M.: Yes! I am their new ambassador for their “Au Natural” line. I’ve been rocking my natural hair for a while now and they’ve been so supportive. I love how that they’ve been in the game for 45 years (congratulations again) and has continued to grow and change with what we need to represent ourselves and our fashion. If they ask what my favorite product is, it’s that “Clump and Curl!” It should be on shelves sometime next month.
Before we ended our conversation, she had to give me the details on this year’s annual Single Mother’s Day Brunch.
D.M.: This year, I’ll be hosting my Single Mother’s Day brunch, back in Atlanta, where I invite out, feed and pamper 50 single mothers. I chose May 7th so they still could have that time with their families. This is my way of giving back. Knowing just how hard it is to be a single mother, I just want to celebrate them, us, cause that’s a totally different type of parenting. Helping me host this year are my friends, singer Keke Wyatt, “Cutting in the ATL” Dedra Allen, singer Kandi Burress, reality personalities Lisa Wu and Laura Govan, and HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod. The list is still growing. If any single mothers are interested, them or a family member can send an email stating why they’re a mother who needs this day of spoiling!
Again, EGL and myself couldn’t be more glad to have had the opportunity to speak with Demetria McKinney! Be on the lookout this spring for “Officially Yours.” Don’t forget to tune into the season premiere of “Saints and Sinners” on March 5th on Bounce TV, as well as catch “The Quad” on BET at 10pm on Wednesday nights. Make sure you look around the site for more exclusives, interviews and lifestyle tips; and, as always, thank you for reading!
Interview By: Melody Lanei