Prestige Magazine’s candid interview with the critically acclaimed, Demetria McKinney, best known for her role as Janine Payne on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. While we await the debut of her first album and more movies to come, she sits down with Prestige Magazine’s own Jasmine CeCelia to give her fans a sneak peek into the life of Demetria, aka Dee Dee, behind the scenes.
How is it working with other great talent such as yours on the set of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne?
Oh my gosh. The beauty of House of Payne is that there is so many different levels of experience, but everyone one of them is balanced. Larramie “Doc”, and China, this was one of their first gigs as well as one of my first. They now have their own shows. I’m working with Allen Payne and Keshia Knight Pulliam who are veterans in this game. Lance Gross, LaVan Davis and Cassie Davis they are just hilarious by nature I mean it’s wonderful. And you get a chance to learn from everybody. I’m just soaking it all in.
What advice can you give to anyone that wants to break into the entertainment business?
Oh goodness. Do you have time for this? Hold on (laugh). Two things, two main things. One, don’t do it for money and don’t do it for fame because you may not always get that. If you do it, do it because you love it. Do it because it’s a need. Because at the end of the day if you’re in it for the money and you’re realizing that pilots sometimes don’t pay but ten dollars and a Subway sandwich. If you’re doing it for the fame and the first time people recognize everybody around you and have to ask you which part you played in the thing, that can be such a discouragement. Do it because that’s what you’re called to do.
The other thing is women know what you’re willing to do before you get in this industry because there are a lot of different roles and not all of them are meant for us, but you don’t have to take every role. I could be so much farther along if I would have just been willing to be nude, if I had been willing to do a bunch of sex scenes, if I had just been willing to do a bunch of other stuff. Now there are casting calls out there but know what you’re willing to do before you get in this and stick to your guns. Do not sacrifice because you’re paving the way for the next young lady to come in, just set the standard. We have to set the standard. Because at the end of the day when all this stops, I still have to answer to myself, I still have to answer to my son, I still have to answer to God. I still want to be respected. So whatever I’m comfortable with playing then that’s what I’ll do but I refuse to go beyond a certain perimeter.
Is there a particular moment in your life that still touches you?
The day I got the call from Mr. Perry’s camp. Not because of the work. I was definitely glad to be cast in the play Meet The Browns, but it also shows a testament of faith. I was a waitress at Cracker Barrels for about seven years. I was also a single mom going to school, and you know I was also doing it all by myself. I was putting my son and myself to sleep watching these films that he was putting out on the play circuit. So to be praying for an outlet. To be praying for a way to be able to continue to support my son and for God to come through with that call. That will never be forgotten, that will never be diminished.
After a long day of working, how do you unwind and relax? How do you separate your personal life from your professional life?
In my personal life the easiest way that I’ve been able to combat that is to keep it personal. I’ve been in a relationship for almost three years, and nobody knows who he is, and people are very respectful of that, just remember to stand your ground. The other thing is I may not be able to have it every week but at least once a month I have a day where the phone goes off, I’m not doing any business, I’m not talking any business, I’m not dealing with any bills. I forget my boyfriend (love you) but I just got to go over here and have a moment for me. I take myself to a movie, I take myself out to dinner, and I have wine with my sister. It’s just a time that I separate from everything and it’s very important for all of us especially women, we have a lot of demands on us and if we don’t take that time to ourselves and get our sanity back then everyone’s going suffer (laughing).
Do you find yourself pinching yourself and realize that this is actually your life?
It’s amazing how many women is going through the same thing I portrayed, those that have come back and said that I was a help for that transition into what they should do. Those moments right there make me feel great cause you do the work, and you want to do a good job but don’t necessarily know if it’s doing what it’s suppose to do. The money is fine, the notoriety is okay, but at the end of the day if I know I’ve touched somebody that’s the pinch me moments. That’s definitely the moment I realize I’m really blessed. I’ve did it, Thank God. Those are good moments. Those are cool.
When does your album drop and what can we expect from your debut album?
My debut album. This has been a long time coming. And I’m thankful and I’m definitely enjoying it because singing has always been there. But the single is available now. It’s called “Get Yo ..Ish” ladies. The single is very empowering. But it’s not to diss the fellas. If you’re doing what you’re suppose to do, then this doesn’t apply to you. If you’re on point then this isn’t for you and you need to rock out with it. The album is set to be released at the top of the year. I still don’t have a title for it. I’m still waiting to figure out what God’s going to tell me to name it but I knew that I wanted “Get Yo ..Ish” to be the debut because I wanted to one, separate myself from Janine but not alienate her, because Janine is very strong, she is very strong indeed because she was able to overcome a lot of things and she’s very independent. I myself like I said I’ve been a single mom. I’ve had to say that statement a couple different times. And as women we’re able to be stronger then we give ourselves credit for. We’re able to withstand more than what we think. And like I said setting that standard is very, very important, so yes the album is set to drop at the top of the year under RTD Entertainment. And the single is available now on iTunes.
What can we expect to see from Demetria McKinney in the future? Are there any projects that you’re working on?
Well House of Payne we’ve been asked for another 42 episodes and we’re only in the third week of filming, so I’m going to be defiantly working on that. For the music side. I’m hoping to be touring very soon with the feedback being as well as it has been, I hope to be touring at the top of the year. I have a couple of movies that I’m looking at as well at just flexing every muscle I have. You just better be looking out for me everywhere.
With the entertainment industry today, there’s a lot of drama and uncertainty. My question is how do you stay grounded and humble?
I try to maintain my life the exact same way it was before I started acting. Or before the acting got really big or before the opportunity to sing came along. I continue to associate myself with the same people growing up. I still hang with my sister and my godmom Maria Harper. I surround myself with people who I know will knock me upside my head if I get beside myself. I watch people that’s where I get a lot of the acting from because I’ve never taken a class. There is something to learn from everybody. And I’ve watched how some people have changed, grown, died. Just lost themselves in this industry. So everybody is an example of what I choose to do or not to do.
Is there anyone out there you want to give a shout out to?
Oh yes of course. The Demetrians (http://www.demetriamckn.webs.com/). I cannot thank them enough. It’s a group of people I believe it started with Ms. Iesha Marie, Faith Brown, and Chel B. All of you, thank you for the constant support. I would be so upset if I did not mention them. Thank you guys for everything you do. They have been holding up the Demetrian banner for years.
If anyone wanted to contact or book you for an event, how would they go about it?
For Twitter it’s: @demimckinney
My Website is: http://www.demetriamckinney.com/
Media Inquiries: Jonellmediapr@
For booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Demetria’s Complete Feature interview in the January Issue of Prestige.. Where she answers the question “What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about Ms. Demetria aka Dee Dee”?