[EXCLUSIVE] Draya Michele Dishes on Her Personal Growth, Social Media vs. Real Life & “The Perfect Match”

Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson
Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson

They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Draya Michele is nowhere near done but we anticipate that where she ends up in the entertainment industry will be nothing like her entrance. We spoke to the soon to be 2nd time new mom about her exit from BasketBall Wives LA, the success of Mint Swim, social media perception, her first major role in “The Perfect Match” and more. Being preggo has not stopped or even slowed the business woman down at all. Nothing motivates her more than her children and the girls that look up to her.

“I definitely embrace the role model role. It took me a few years to kind of realize that there are these girls and they are following what I do. It just put a huge feeling of responsibility on me. That’s kind of what helped me along the way change and transition my life. I had these girls who were younger than me looking up to me, and I didn’t want to lead them off of a cliff. In order to show them the right things to do, I had to start doing the right things, and making the right choices. Some people appreciate it, and then some people are kind of … I just needed my audience to grow up with me. Because when I was turning a certain age, so was the rest of the world. The girls that were following me four years ago that were 24, they are 28 now and it’s time for them to grow up just like I did. I had to show them growth.”

After four seasons on the hit reality show Basketball Wives LA, Draya had enough of fussing and fighting with other women about meaningless drama on the tube each week and called it quits.

“Being on a reality show in the beginning of my career was a choice that I decided to make and I knew what I was signing up for. I knew the consequences that came with it. I knew that I would be exposed for things that I wasn’t necessarily proud of. But I also knew that I had a plan to say, “Okay, this is who I was.” But I was determined to show the people that there was a plan for me to change all of that. I just wanted people to follow along on the journey and just watch the transition. They have, and they’ve been so supportive of me, and they are so happy for the doors that have been opening for me and the new projects I’m involved in. They don’t care that I’m not on reality TV anymore arguing and fighting and doing that kind of stuff. They are completely in support of me and my happiness.”

The opportunity did allow her to expand her brand. Draya’s swimsuit line, Mint Swim, made over $1 Million in 2015; an accomplishment that the designer is very proud of.

“They saw me start this little company with like four swimsuits. Everyone is just as surprised as I am with the success of the company. I’m just taking it one day at a time and I’m just trying to figure out new ways to keep it going and keep the momentum up. I haven’t slowed down. I’ve completely quadruple back flipped, cartwheeled this business into a major machine. Keeping it going and working on it every day is what gets me up and gets me out of bed. Because I really enjoy working, I really enjoy working for myself. Come on, it’s designing swimwear. It’s kind of a dream job. I kind of get to do all of my research at beaches and pools and vacations. I count it as research and I get to have fun, and have pretty girls around all the time wearing swimsuits. It’s just a really really cool job and I am so thankful for everyone that purchases Mint Swim; everyone that writes me comments about Mint Swim. I’m just thankful for it all.”

Yes, contrary to popular belief, she enjoys the social media comments and she refuses to let the negative ones deter her from responding to her fans.

“It’s really easy to respond to negative comments. Because sometimes they strike a nerve, and I don’t ever want to girl who gets used to nice comments. Because there are hundreds of thousands of nice comments, but I don’t ever want to feel comfortable to where I feel like, yeah they’ll always be there. Let me just overlook them. I don’t want to overlook them. I want to take time out to acknowledge them and let them know I see your comments. I read your comments. Thank you. I try to thank a lot of people because they are real people talking directly to me, and I just think it’s important to let them know that I see it. I’m listening.”

Draya has learned the hard way that she has to balance what she puts on social media. From relationship drama to red carpet selfies, once its out there…it’s OUT THERE.

“As far as my relationship goes, I feel like I put a lot of it out there. If you all of a sudden just want to stop putting your relationship out there, you have this fear that people will think that your relationship isn’t real. Or maybe you are not in a relationship anymore because you don’t post about it. It’s just a lot of pressure on a girl to keep people up to date with what you are doing with your life. If you mind them judging you. I’m not going to lie, I mind a little bit. I like to keep them as up to date as I can without giving away too much. I’ve learned some pretty good lessons along the way about social media and putting too much out there.”

Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson
Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson

But for Draya, being “real” trumps all. She doesn’t want anyone to think she’s perfect or even tries to be. She’s just like you.

“I feel like because of the work that I do… I’m constantly doing photo shoots and I’m constantly on TV and getting my hair and makeup done for these things. It’s so easy for me to take pictures and take selfies because I have a full face of makeup on. I have my hair done by a professional. It’s just like, that is not the real world. There is seven days out of the week and I might be dressed up for only one of them. But if I post just that day, then that’s what people believe that I look like all the time. Because I don’t post the other six days where I look just kind of regular and bummy. I just feel like it’s important to give the people that every once and a while. I did post a picture where I have no makeup on and I have some breakout. I just wanted to show the people that support me that I’m not perfect and it’s okay to be who you are and show people who you are. Because at the end of the day, you are you and you cannot be anyone else. Everyone else is already taken. We’re stuck with being ourselves. It’s just really sad seeing so many girls so upset with just doing things to their pictures to make themselves feel more beautiful. Because in reality they are fixing the picture, but that doesn’t fix the internal issues that they have. It also doesn’t fix how they really look in real life. People just shouldn’t go by that. People shouldn’t be just so obsessed with beauty on the internet. It’s not healthy.”

And being healthy and happy is her biggest priority these days. In just a few weeks she’ll be a mother of two. Changing her life so that she can provide a better one for her children makes her feel good.

“I don’t have the same worries as before. I used to worry how I was going to put my son through college. Now I don’t worry about how I’m going to put my son through college, his college is pretty much taken care of, and I’m on to having another son and worrying about his college. Which is pretty much taken care of and he’s not even on the earth yet. It’s a great feeling just knowing that my kids are going to be okay and I have something to pass down to my kids. I’ve created this business that could be a really successful family business for many many years.”

Changing people’s perspective of you has it’s perks. I shared with Draya Terrance J’s positive comments about her work ethic. The former 106 & Park host spoke highly of Draya and called her a joy to work with while they were both filming the romantic comedy “The Perfect Match”.

“Wow, I didn’t know he said that. Stuff like that just makes me feel like I have the support that I need. Because you need other people who are in the industry and who have been doing it longer and have the experience. You need those people to support you. It means a lot and it really helps open up doors. It helps you name get mentioned at meetings and in the conversations that you want to be in. When the other actors are talking good about you, it’s amazing for you.”

Not only was Draya front and center throughout the first few minutes of the flick, but she was also hired as a promotional partner for the film.

“I had done about four to five different films. However this one that I just did that just came out in theaters, The Perfect Match, this was a really, really big deal for two reasons. The first reason was of course I landed a small role but a key role. I got to be the opening scene of the film, so the first five minutes. It’s pretty much me and I got to act alongside Terrence J. Who is an amazing confident actor. He helped me very much and made me feel confident. Then, as far as the movie, I also got hired for the promotional side of it from Lionsgate and Code Black to do social medial promos. I ultimately had two jobs in the movie. I was in charge of creating content for the film for social media for promotional reasons. I did all of that, which is a big deal for me because it gave me somewhat of a producer credit for social media content. It also gives me a creative director title that I can add to my resume to say that I’ve been able to partner up with these major companies and work for them. They were happy to have my ideas.”

So get used to the new Draya, because she has no plans on stopping.

“There is just no relaxing. I don’t know what that means. The other night I got a maternity massage. That’s about an hour long, so I did that as relaxation. But other than that, no. I’m working just as much as I was before I was pregnant. If not a little more, because I just feel like I don’t want to lose my momentum. I’m working a little bit harder now I think. I have been writing and producing some different TV shows. So far I have a package of four. We have been having meeting after meeting with different networks. Different shows are on the horizon. Some are including me, some are reality, some are scripted. I just want to try everything. I just want to get my hands into everything entertainment. I recently stepped into a management company, so I do own a management company that’s called Speed Limit Management and my partner and I run that right now. That’s been my latest project, helping other people manage their careers.”

Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson
Photo Credit: Chris Paul Thompson

Crave more Draya? Check out a few fun facts below.

Pizza or Chicken?I’m going to go with Pizza because there is really only one way to make pizza. You can’t really mess it up. But chicken, it’s too many different varieties of it and it ain’t always good.

Glam or Comfy? I prefer to be lounging around in cozy clothes. I like to wear sneakers a lot and gym clothes are my fav.

Sports Car or SUV?  Sports car for sure. It’s because I already technically have three and a half kids. So space is limited. I already drive around in an SUV full of kids. You know, it’s nice to get in a sports car and kind of be by myself and hit the gas a little bit and cruise.

Cold cozy weather or warm fun in the sun? I love the heat. Because I’m from the East coast I grew up around snow for at least 25 years of my life. I don’t care if I ever see snow again in my life. I have seen enough for the rest of my life.

Dining in a nice restaurant or take out at home? I don’t like to eat food that I didn’t cook in my house. Even if it’s from McDonald’s or Chipotle. I like to eat in Chipotle, I cannot ever take my Chipotle to go. I’m never really a takeout person, I like to sit in the restaurant. I don’t care what restaurant, it could be five star restaurant or it could be a little mom and pop whole in the wall. But I like to eat in the restaurant.

Check out Draya Michele in “The Perfect Match” in theaters now!

Keyauna Chantel

Writer, Blogger, Brand Ambassador, Influencer and Media Personality