In her acting debut, Draya Michele stars opposite Marques Houston who plays Jamal Hawkins, a handsome bachelor who finds himself in search of a wife to meet the stipulations in his grandfather’s will. Draya as Candice Koleto along with Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rachel Paris both play love interests of Houston’s in Will to Love. This romantic comedy has thrust Michele into a new arena The movie was co-written by Marques Houston, Chaz Echols and Chris Stokes.
Rolling out caught up with Draya Michele to talk about her first foray into acting.
Tell us about your experience working on Will to Love.
It was fun. I got a call from Marques saying he wanted me to read over the script and see if it was something I was interested in. I read the script and I thought it was just a funny story and I wanted to be a part of it. I instantly feel in love with this character, Candice. I told him, this is me! I want to play this part. I can do this, so just trust me.
You play Candice Koleto, what is the character’s backstory?
Candice is just a girl who is not really who she says she is. She was kind of hired by someone to manipulate this man into falling in love with her and marrying her for the wrong reasons.
How did you prepare for the role?
This was my first acting role and I prepared by going to acting class. I went to acting class once a week for four weeks. I was really adamant about learning my lines and making sure I had them memorized because I knew I was going to be working with Keshia Knight Pulliam and Marques Houston. And they have been acting for over 20 years. I just wanted to make sure I was prepared and I was professional and I was ready. I knew they were going to be ready.
How do you think this role has set you up for your future professionally?
I think it lets people know that I actually can act. It was very natural. I feel like I seemed natural. Also, it helped me by being on set and learning the camera angles. You know how many takes you have to do. I feel like now when I read scripts, since I know how a movie is shot, now I can read scripts better. I do auditions better. I just have an overall better confidence about myself.
The Draya Michele brand has really grown over the years; what do you have going on?
Yes, I have a swimsuit line called Mint Swim that I’ve been running for four year and I do everything with that business myself. I design everything. I don’t have any partners or design teams. I am very hands-on. Then I have another brand called Fine Ass Girls, which is for younger girls. It’s actually like an urban street wear. That’s a really fun job that I get to work on and I get to make clothes for younger girls. There are a couple of things I have in the works. I can’t really discuss them right now because they’re in the works.
Let’s talk about social media. How has that help you to build your professional brand as Draya Michele as well as your businesses? Do you use social media?
Social media is everything to me. I use it as a marketing tool. I use it as a networking tool. The more popular you are, the more people follow you. That gives you more of a reach to promote something. It just helps so much. You could pay for a commercial to air on TV and hope that four million people see it, or you could be me, and you could just post something on Instagram and you know 4 million people are going to see it because you have them following you. And it’s free! You don’t have to pay millions of dollars for it. So social media is really, really important to me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m ready for whatever the next roles are. I’m ready for every and any audition. The next role that I would like to play, I’d like to play something that’s a lil bit harder, something that people wouldn’t expect from me. Maybe playing a police officer or a detective, an attorney, maybe a judge, I don’t know, just something really hard that can challenge me. That will really let people know I’m serious about this!