LisaRaye McCoy: Pressing Forward to a Happier Life
A funny thing happened on the way to happily-ever-after for LisaRaye McCoy. Just when the stunningly beautiful actress was primed and prepped to ride off into the sunset as the first lady of Turks and Caicos, reality struck, a divorce was finalized, and she was left to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. Such a jarring life change would cause the average person to retreat from the world, choosing to live in the shadows of embarrassment while second-guessing every decision that led to such an unfortunate set of circumstances.
But LisaRaye McCoy is far from “average.”
Blessed with a smooth countenance and a personality brimming with unbridled confidence, McCoy rose from the ashes of a failed marriage to transmogrify her public image into that of a reality-show sensation.
When “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy” first debuted on TV One, there was a lot of criticism and head-scratching as the general public wondered aloud why she was doing reality TV. Undaunted by the scrutiny, McCoy not only stepped boldly into the new venture, but she conquered it in the process by delivering the highest ratings in the network’s seven-year history.
That surprising success begat more opportunities, as VH1 came forward with a new show offer, “Single Ladies,” and a wellspring of other lucrative ventures began to present themselves to McCoy. Such a positive reversal of fortune would cause many to gloat in the face of the countless doubters and detractors. But that doesn’t seem to be McCoy’s style.
Instead, she just continues to work hard, seemingly unaware of what the detractors are saying. Negative energy has no place in this new-and-improved world of McCoy’s, and, to be frank, it makes her all the more pleasant to be around.
Was this completely new-and-improved McCoy an aberration? A mirage? From this writer’s perspective … hardly.
I first noticed the change when McCoy decided to stop by rolling out’s Atlanta office to bring lunch to the staff. She was in town for an extended stay to film the VH1 show “Single Ladies” with Stacey Dash and figured she’d spend an early afternoon with the publication she’d grown to call “family.” After exchanging pleasantries with the staff, she and I slipped into a side room to catch up on life since the last time we spoke. A lot had changed since then. Her schedule had tripled in length, and she now wore all-white as part of her new, daily signature style.
And while those two things alone — her schedule and fashion choices — could provide enough petrol to fuel several hours worth of conversation, I was more intrigued by the personal side of her.
As we sat there, it was hard to lose sight of how naturally beautiful she is — even at age 43. So, naturally, curiosity abounded as it pertained to her love life. Was she dating anyone? And, if not, was she accepting applications?
As I asked the question, a sly smile crept across her face, almost as if she was surprised it took that long for me to ask. “No, I’m not,” she confessed. “I’m actually living vicariously through my character on ‘Single Ladies’ because I have no love life to speak of. I’m OK with that, though, because there’s nothing like taking some time to work on me. That’s what I’m doing right now … I’m working on me.”
The process of McCoy working on herself has been an exercise in patience since her marriage ended. With the cameras turned on and capturing her every move, the opportunities to sit alone and spend the time necessary to grow, evolve and move on from the past have been few and far between. She didn’t seem to mind, though, that her evolution was muted a bit. In her eyes, it was all for the greater good.
“When I first decided to do reality TV, it was strictly a business decision,” she shared. “Everyone was doing it, and I figured that I might as well take the initiative to get my story out. But the more the show grew and became popular, the more I began to see that it was actually helping people. You have no idea how many women have approached me and told me how I was inspiring them by trying to move on from the past. It was inspiring them to do the same thing. So, when that started to happen, I knew I was doing the right thing.”
Perhaps the best part of McCoy’s attempt to “do the right thing” was her new lease on life.
“I woke up one day and realized that my outlook had changed. I wanted to use my life as a way to encourage people,” she said, pausing to measure each word. “I try to share a lot with people, but the main thing that I want them to know is that we all fall down, but what really matters is how we get back up. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and there are some things in my past that I’m not proud of. I cry about them now because I can’t believe that I used to be so hardheaded. But God has a way of using you and using your past to help other people. So, that’s all I’m focused on right now. I’m focused on keeping my head held high and being a good example to all of those ladies out there who support me and who need me to continue pressing forward.”
Pressing forward … Those two words lingered in the air for what felt like an eternity, signifying a bit of finality to the conversation. McCoy is indeed pressing forward in a way that many considered unimaginable.
Time has passed since McCoy was robbed of her titles of wife and first lady. But what initially appeared to be a loss for McCoy has turned into an unquestionable gain. She is now a role model, a friend to women and a trendsetter. But, more than that, she’s happy again, and that makes the trade-off worth it.