Draya Michele on Breaking Into Acting, Reveals If She’ll Return to Reality TV (Exclusive)
By Latifah Muhammad
Draya Michele is enjoying the “challenge” of building her acting career.
Fans first got to know her on Basketball Wives LA, but after quitting the reality show in 2015, Michele has been building a name in the acting world, landing roles in recent releases like Til Death Do Us Part starring Taye Diggs, Annie Ilonzeh, and Being Mary Jane’s Steven Bishop, and True to the Game, whose cast included the late Nelsan Ellis.
“I’m always happy to work with seasoned actors. I need it,” Michele tells ET of sharing the screen with 39-year-old Ellis, who died from heart failure in July. “I’m learning and growing every day, and when you get to work with people that are that good, it's amazing.”
Sharing the screen with Ellis pushed Michele to work harder. “He brought some of my best acting out of me,” she says.
But working with Ellis also reminded her that “tomorrow isn’t promised.”
“We never thought that before the movie released we were going to lose someone,” she adds. “It was just unfortunate. We had to take a moment and just appreciate life.”
Even with small roles under her belt, the transition from reality TV to the film industry hasn’t been seamless.
“They’re not just giving away roles in Hollywood,” Michele says before describing the grueling audition process. “Don’t think because you live here you have an advantage, or because you’re already famous for something else. That’s just not the truth. I audition for so many things that I don’t get. It’s not easy, but that’s part of the reason why I like it, because it’s actually a challenge.”
Acting is a newfound passion for Michele, who always knew she would end up in entertainment in some capacity. As a child, Michele admits that she thought she would become a “pop star,” despite not being musically talented.
“I don’t sing and I don’t do music, that is just what I thought,” she explains with a laugh. “I never really got a chance to try it out, but never say never. It’s never too late to try something new.”
And she takes the same “never say never” attitude when it comes to a possible return to reality television.
“There’s a lot of people interested in me getting back on TV in that space,” she shares. “It just has to be the right fit with the right storyline and the right theme of the show. I would never go back to anything that’s an ensemble cast or anything like that.”
“It would have to be a solo thing and it would have to be based on [my] business. Right now, it’s hard trying to convince people that are so accustomed to seeing, I don’t want to call it ‘trash TV,’ but it is what it is. They’re so accustomed to seeing fighting and arguing and drama on TV that there are a lot of people who don’t believe a show based on business would work,” she says. “I feel differently.”