R&B songstress Michel’le may be known for her squeaky voice, but the sexy vocalist is 100% woman and is set to dominate the entertainment and literary world. In 1989, Michel’le shot to super stardom after releasing her self-titled debut album containing “No More Lies” and the hit singles “Nicety” and “Something in My Heart.” The Michel’le album sold 2.7 million copies worldwide and made Michel’le one of the most successful female artists of that time.
Although she reveled in her success as a Platinum recording artist, her dreams quickly turned into her biggest nightmare. Michel’le’s life was turned upside down due to a series of heartbreaking events that tempted her to end her life. Once plagued by a long history of abuse and thoughts of suicide, Michel’le fought to get her life back and isn’t letting her past dictate her future. In fact, she’s now using her pain to uplift others struggling with depression and anxiety and may have a new self-help book in the works. An accomplished reality TV star, Michel’le is making hot new music and redefining her place in Hollywood.
She is also a budding entrepreneur who is starting her own t-shirt line and is poised to build her empire. The striking multitalented beauty is living proof that you can transform your life after loss and live big. In this inspiring interview, the R&B Diva Los Angeles star gives us a real glimpse into her life when the cameras aren’t rolling and reveals if she has a new man in her life. She also shares three empowering tips on mental and physical abuse and dishes on how being abused has changed her relationships with men.
Florence: Hi Michel’le! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I know you are a very busy woman! Before we get started, I have to tell you how much I appreciate you. Not only are you a great vocalist, but you capture the true essence of what being a strong woman is all about. Although you have experienced a lot of heartache, you have bounced back and are teaching the world that you can conquer anything. You are a true inspiration and one of my favorite artists. Congratulations on all of your success!
Michel’le: Thank you!
Florence: It seems that some celebrities have apprehension about being on a reality TV show. What were two of your biggest fears of doing R&B Divas-were you afraid of being judged by the public for airing your secrets?
Michel’le: No. I wasn’t because I was reclusive for such a long time that it was very cathartic to finally stop hiding from myself. To know that I wasn’t alone and that I could discuss it with people who I don’t know felt really good because it’s hard to discuss stuff with family because they look at you like, “girl go sit down.” It was good opening up and finding out how many people agreed with me, how many disagreed and how many you can teach who are in denial who you can help.
Florence: How did you deal with having to be so transparent while you were struggling with your personal issues?
Michel’le: I’m still dealing with it. I show so many flaws when I am on television and I love it because if I don’t make mistakes, then I can’t learn from them. Television is a wider audience, it’s a broader scale of reaching people as opposed to just doing something at home or at a party. Besides, we have social media now so my mistakes are always going to be shown. I sing live, I’m brutally honest, which in this business is hard to find. People understand me; they get me, but then there are those that disagree but being on R&B Divas is a bigger platform. I’m still going through it, it didn’t just go away.
Florence: You’ve faced a lot of adversities in your life but you’ve managed to stay resilient and live your dreams. What was the most difficult time in your life and what steps did you take to get through it?
Michel’le: I celebrate death like I celebrate life. I hadn’t had anyone really close to me die until my grandmother, my mother and my brother all went within a month of each other so I think that was the biggest tragedy and it just happened a few years ago. I didn’t even grieve yet and I haven’t went through the process until this year. I lost somebody and I didn’t understand what was going on, but I found therapy to be helpful. I found a lot of different things out that are for some people and not for everybody, just to try and understand “Why break down now?” But I think that’s been the biggest thing just recently in my life. I didn’t address it. I just let it go. But then, I couldn’t control the impact. It’s very difficult to be able to hold the emotions in.
Florence: You’re an accomplished platinum selling artist and are now on television. Did you ever really see yourself having the life you have now? What do you want to accomplish that you haven’t already?
Michel’le: No, I never saw myself on reality television. I knew coming out of reclusiveness that I would have to start all over because of the reason that I left which is unknown to a lot of people. I never tried to clear up a lot of rumors until now. It’s good to try to now because I think people are shocked that they’ve been telling this story so long they believe it and it’s not really the truth. So, I never saw myself being where I am although I have learned to find out what it is to feel, to love, and to be a friend because when you have money, you don’t use your feelings. You don’t use an emotion. You use your money for everything. It’s been different because I haven’t had to feel since I was 17 years old, so now, I’ve been actually going through that, and can I tell you girl…it’s been hard! (laughs).
For the second part of your question, there are so many things that I want to do. Now that I am feeling before I think, which is what I am learning, I want to find that new song that touches me like Something in My Heart still touches me and a lot of things I wrote in my past. That’s huge because that’s just me testing myself; that’s just me in competition with myself. I have a foundation. I would love to see that grow and become useful to society. People say that I have a funny way of making people understand what I am trying to say so I started putting them on t-shirts because I didn’t know that it made sense to other people but it does! I am trying to accomplish things that I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing five years ago because I was under the impression that I just sing and I am just that girl, Michel’le. I was stuck there for many, many decades until one day I just went, “No, I can do whatever I want to do. I don’t have to do just R&B music.” I can try dance music, which I did with Crystal Waters. That’s coming out. Then, I wanted to design t-shirts to give myself something to want to be here for and to see it accomplished. [I also want to] watch my children grow up. I don’t want to be a grandma now, but one day. Not right now…one day.
Florence: You were very vocal about your past abusive relationships. What was the most important lesson being in an abusive relationship taught you about yourself?
Michel’le: One thing I noticed was that I was dating the same kind of man and it took me cycles to say “Wow, I’m dating the same kind of man.” Someone said to me, “It’s you…you’re attracting that, it’s not them.” And I said, that’s impossible cause I’m not doing anything different but I wasn’t doing anything to not attract them so I started changing what I considered to be the man that I would be with and giving the good ones a chance because you are so busy looking for the same thing that you had or something like it that you never really get out of it. So I learned that.
Now, I am far more cautious because I think that abuse, mental or physical, is just not healthy. It’s uncalled for. If a guy pushes me, I’m like, bye-bye. A push turns into a slap and I can’t do that. I don’t have the patience anymore to do that and then to be put on restriction because when a man takes control over your life like that it gives him the power because he controls everything. You couldn’t really go out and do what you really want to do-he could, but you couldn’t. The minute he tells you, “I’m going out, you’re going to stay here and do this…run for the hills (laughs). We take that as he cares about me so much…he’s so protective. That’s what we think. Our signals are totally two different things.
Florence: Do you think that the abuse has affected your current relationships with men?
Michel’le: Well…yeah… I am cautious. I don’t really date as much. I go out and men may never hear from me again because I’m just not sure. I am far more cautious then I was before and I kind of listen to people this time. If I introduce them to my friends, and they go, “Oh no,” I take that oh no and say, “ok, this is not good.” I didn’t do that in my first relationship. I thought, “You don’t know him.” Now I listen because they may feel something or may have heard something that they don’t to tell me. It’s always good to get someone else’s opinion before you dive into it.
Florence: That’s very true. Is there a special man in your life now?
Michel’le: No, girl. I am not ready. I still have to work on me.
Florence: Ok. That’s good. I am glad you are putting yourself first. Some celebrities on reality TV seem to be different in person than they are on TV. Is there a different side of Michel’le that the public hasn’t gotten a chance to see?
Michel’le: No…I am as batty as coo-coo puffs on that show. I think ya’ll are seeing everything! (Laughs). I think I am pretty much giving you guys everything.
Florence: Fans and viewers have learned so much about you by watching R&B Divas. What is one part of your story that fans don’t know that you want to reveal now?
Michel’le: That I am ok. I am a work in progress, and I do have days where they’re not always the best. You can’t be happy every day. It’s just not healthy. You have to know what the lows are so that you can appreciate the highs. I’ve learned that. I no longer have thoughts as deep as I did, so I am not trying to go anywhere. I’m just trying to deal with things. I feel now before I think, so if I think first, I’ve already analyzed what I am going to do, how I am going to treat you, and how we’re going to get along without knowing how I feel about you. Now I want to know how you make me feel when I meet you. When I talk to you, how do you make me feel? How do I make you feel? We can figure out what it is later, but that’s how it is for me now. That’s huge for me.
Florence: You’re a survivor who has truly beat the odds. What are three tips you can provide to women who are trapped in an abusive relationship?
Michel’le: It’s not easy to just get up and walk away. I know that because you are living in fear and he’s probably made you codependent on him so that’s always the second thing. You can’t just up and move into a new place because he pays the rent. He gives you money. What I can say is put your money away. Stash it slowly and try to give yourself a three month window to remove your stuff, start packing your stuff when he doesn’t notice what you’re doing and eventually walk away.
If he’s really violent, the first thing you want to do is put a restraining order on file. Put that you are being abused because they won’t believe you if you do something to him after the abuse occurred. It will be confidential and they will keep the record that you at least came in. That stuff is very important. I think telling a lot of people, that’s always the worst thing you can do. You need to be hush. You might need one or two people to help you and don’t tell everybody.
They don’t need to know. It’s about your health and being safe. The third thing is when you do leave, don’t move down the street because you’re not saying anything to anybody and people aren’t going to believe you so if you are going to go away, go away in hiding for a while. Give him time to cool off and see what his moves are so that you’ll know what you can and can’t do because he has to be able to live without you for a few months so he can see if this is good for him as well as for you. Always leave a note on that last day before you walk out so that you don’t leave him scatterbrained. You have to tell him how you feel because if he’s not listening to you when you talk, that’s not a good way to leave. He’ll at least know, this is what I did, this is what I didn’t do…and won’t be angry trying to figure it out.
Florence: How has your pain transformed you into the woman you are today?
Michel’le: Well, people tell me that I am funny. I think it made my sense of humor just blossom (laughs). It’s just like comedians…they are depressed people on the inside and funny on the outside. I didn’t know I was funny. I was just telling people stories and people thought they were hilarious and I was like, “Ok… I guess it is, but I just want to tell you the truth,” and they would say, “I know, but the way you say it is funny” when I am telling (them) how it happened. As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. It makes me feel better to make light of almost anything (not everything). I can now make light of being abused because I’ve been through it, I’m over it, and for a long time, I thought it was me, but it took me many years to know that it wasn’t.
Florence: Are you currently working on any new music? Will you ever consider writing a tell-all book about your life?
Michel’le: Yes. I am. My tell-all book…this is my 15th edition, and it hasn’t went to press yet because I have to keep changing it because my life keeps getting better and better. It’s not a tell-all, but it’s about my life. I want to call it a self-help book titled, Girl, Don’t Do That…Watch Out for that Roadblock! (laughs). I am doing a dance single with Crystal Waters. I have a single out called It Still Hurts. It’s on iTunes. I also have a t-shirt line because people always say I have these funny sayings so I said I’ll just stick them on t-shirts so I am working on that. Also, my foundation, which is called, I Stayed Here.
That’s huge that I am working on. It’s about suicide but it goes into many other things because my thing is, I want to know how did you get here? People think you just one wake up and say, “Today is the day,” but that’s not true. Something had to happen that made you say, I just can’t take it.” I want my foundation to bring you to the conclusion of what is it? Is it self-hate? A lot of people have self-hate. I didn’t know that so I said, “Let me learn about self-hate.” Of course I self-hated myself. If I didn’t, I would never have surgery. That’s a form of self-hate. There’s a lot of things…mental abuse, physical abuse, not feeling worth anything. A lot of it is that women don’t feel like they should be where they are in that point in their life. Some women feel like they don’t have the man of their dreams.
Florence: What’s the most exciting thing about being on R&B Divas?
Michel’le: The most exciting thing about being on R&B Divas is that I’ve never been with a group of girls. I’ve had one girlfriend for probably over 30 years and when I see her, she has a lot of girlfriends so I get to enjoy her girlfriends. I never had my own group of females where we all go out at one time. The best part is learning that it’s a challenge and it takes a lot of work to have five girlfriends together and to hold on to the relationships because everyone has different characters and everyone is different. I never experienced that in my whole life. I didn’t even know that dynamic existed so it has taught me a lot. I’ve learned so much from these women and they are so talented. That’s been the best part of being on the show. I’ve actually learned some life lessons from them.
Florence: Thank you so much for the interview! I appreciate it. I wish you well in everything that you do. I know you are passionate about what you do and the sky is the limit for you! I will definitely be watching the show!
Michel’le: Ok now, umm…don’t believe everything that you see (laughs).
Florence: That’s what I don’t do! (Laughs).
Be sure to catch Michel’le on R&B Divas: Los Angeles on TV One and visit her on the following websites:
View Michel’le’s video for “Freedom to Love” here: http://youtu.be/0NNNSN6nQuM