Looking back, Draya Michele doesn’t have the best memories of her time on Basketball Wives LA. In an interview with Justin Sylvester’s Just the Sip, the 34-year-old said it was something she benefited from, but it wasn’t something she would ever do again.
“It was alright,” she said of her time on the show from 2011 to 2015. “it was an experience. I’m glad I went through it; not really trying to go through it again.”
While the show was a stepping stone for her to be the swimwear designer, actress and model she is today, she does regret that she took part in a show that degraded Black women, in her opinion.
“Basketball Wives has this stereotype of these angry Black women and I feel like more than just Black people watch it. People who aren’t familiar with Black culture take that and they think that is what they are. I feel really, really bad that I was a part of that and contributed to that,” she said. “Black women, we’re queens. We’re so much more than arguing with each other over stupid stuff. I never want people think I’m this aggressive Black woman because I’m not. I’m aggressive when it comes to my work and my business, but I’m not like a try to fight you in the streets [type]. I feel like that show gave me that. I got pushed like to the limit where I had to bark back.”
She said certain shows don’t have to go to the fighting lengths that the VH1 series often showed, but a precedent was created where without violent, foolish quarrels, people didn’t feel entertained.
“I think somewhere down the line we messed up to where it was like, okay, let’s get Black people on TV and let’s let them act a fool because other Black people will want to see that. I think now we’re dependent on that and Black shows won’t work unless it has that drama and that rawness and that aggressiveness and the fights and security coming in and breaking things up. They’ve allowed that. I think that’s what, when we see our people, that’s what we expect to see. We expect to see us fighting, and if we’re not, we don’t want to see it.”
Draya says she signed up for it because she is and has always been a hustler, but she didn’t foresee the low pay (“I left the club for this, it was less than the club”), the way it would make her feel, or the fan support flowing in the way that it did.
“There’s people that are very, very, very hungry for just a shot and they sign up for it. If you sign up for a show like that you know what it is. They can sit there and they can say to you, ‘Sign this paper, you’re going to be on this show, we’re going to talk about your business and everything’s going to be amazing.’ But you watch the show. You know already. You know what’s up,” she said.
“I knew what was up. The whole six months of filming I thought I was this wicked person because I just felt unnatural. I felt unnatural arguing with people,” she said. “I was like, why are we arguing? I don’t even know you guys and you’re arguing with me like we go back. We don’t go back. I don’t know you. I don’t know your man, I don’t know anything about you. You just don’t like me because I’m here. I just defended myself the best way I could and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be hated across the world.’ It was the total opposite when it came on TV. I was not expecting that at all.”
She’s been successful since breaking away from the series in 2015, but admits there are some promising opportunities that fell through because of her time on the show. However, with the success she’s had glowing up, she sees the nos she’s received as motivation.
“I still haven’t fully broken it,” she says of breaking free from the show. “It’s still is kind of like a thing that still haunts me. There’s a lot of closed doors behind that show. I work every day so that those doors that were closed, those opportunities that I want, those nos will become yeses.”