Joyful Drake currently stars as Tasha in the original BET show Let’s Stay Together, and recently appeared in the movie Get Him to the Greek alongside Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. When her publicist informed us that she was natural, we were more than happy to get some more details! Enjoy 🙂
So you’re originally from Milwaukee. How did you go from living in Milwaukee to acting in California?
J: It was a path with a lot of twists and turns. Definitely exciting. I used to dance in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks when I was in college at the Unversity of Wisconsin on academic scholarship. And I was always kind of a go-getter, set on trying things.
I danced in the NBA and that was fun, but after a couple years I got bored and I did some modeling, I got bored. So for me acting was one of the true passions in my heart because I never got bored of it. My journey was a marathon and not a sprint. I moved from Wisconsin to New York, lived there for a couple years and the first year I got a recurring role on the Showtime series Soul Food. Then I decided to pack up my bags and come to Lalaland (laughs).
I just think you have to really sit down and focus on yourself and what you want to do because everyone around you says, ‘do this, do this, do that’, but if it’s not in your heart and you don’t really see it in your mind you’ll never really see it with your eyes. So for me it was kind of figuring out what Joyful wants to do and what makes me happy. And it’s been pounding the pavement, going to auditions. And when you get a show like Let’s Stay Together and people respond to it, it makes it all worth it.
And the show has been renewed for a second season?
J: Yes, we have. Its exciting. I feel so much time has passed since our first 13 episodes aired and I’m really excited because for our second season we’re gonna be able to give the fans more. We have 22 fabulous episodes that we’re currently shooting, so our season is extended. It’s a great show for people of all ages, all races, male, female, everyone can relate to at least one character in the show so we’re bringing the funny.
Joyful with her Let’s Stay Together co-stars
We have a lot of great guest stars like Lala Anthony, and Kyla Pratt is a new addition to our show so we’re just excited. She’s going to be playing a college grad student and the cousin of Kita and Charles, and she is brilliant and she’s funny and we just have a lot of fun with her.
You play a married mother of 6‑month old twins on Let’s Stay Together. Do you draw from personal experience to play the role?
J: I think every actor draws from their real life experiences when it comes to portraying another character because you want to be as real and as true to that character as you possibly can. But I am not in a long-term relationship right now, I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids so I think it’s funny that I’m just as single as ever and here I am on this show playing a mom to 6‑month old twins and I have a husband. Last year they didn’t show the babies but this particular season we actually got a beautiful set of 6 month old twins, a boy and a girl, and they’re so tiny. I was kind of nervous about holding them because they’re so small. But I was a pro (laughs). I was good. I haven’t held a baby in a while but I have nieces and nephews.
So is your hair currently natural?
J: My hair is very curly. It’s actually more of a wave than a tight curl. And it’s in a big bun on top of my head (laughs). If I’m not working I really don’t blowdry it. I just wash it and leave it curly, put some jojoba oil or Moroccan oil in it, a little conditioner and let it rest. Because working on the show they do so much to your hair. So if I’m not working I like to just give it a break.
How do they manipulate your hair for the show?
J: My character on the show, Tasha, she actually went back and forth, like they would blowdry it, flat iron it, but she also got to wear it curly to give the hair a break and let it rest in its natural state. When they want to get it straight, they just wash it and blow it out with a round brush.
Have you always been natural?
J: As a child I wore two big ponytails. My Mom, she didn’t do too much to my hair. She would just wash it and comb it out. I wore ponytails, buns, but as a kid we didn’t have relaxers. And it was 4 girls. I have 3 sisters it was 4 of us. And we all have a lot of hair.
In high school when I started to want to wear it down, I found that it would just get frizzy and poofy. Our mom let us relax it and I did that throughout high school and in college, because that’s kind of what you saw, that’s what you were taught.
And the relaxer never really damaged my hair, I just got tired of the maintenance of it. Having to go to the salon all the time, because my hair grows really fast. I got tired of being controlled by the relaxer. I just felt like it was a set-up; a set-up for women to have to go to the beauty shop, to have to straighten their hair, and I just didn’t like that pressure.
Nowadays you see women of color, ethnic women, embracing their locks, embracing the fact they have big hair whether it’s curly or wavy or whatever, and I love that image. Because that’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us different. Now when I go out I just have my big, poofy, wild hair. My Mom used to always tell me, ‘People would pay to have hair that big, or hair that full’. Because relaxing kind of thins it out over time.
When my hair is just naturally curly it’s a lot to deal with. It just grows and grows, it’ll get big and it’s kinda hard to tame. But I like the elasticity of it and the strength and the weight of it.
Are there any mistakes you’ve made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
J: I had a tough time actually combing out my hair because I have so much of it. So I had to learn to get a better detangler, a detangling conditioner and also how to take my time. Now I’m good at it because I’m used to it.
I also think it takes patience as you’re transitioning because once you start growing your hair out you can really see the difference between your natural hair and processed hair. And I’m impatient. If I wanna do something I’m gonna do it. When I was transitioning I was like, “Just cut it off, cut it off, cut it off.” And my beautician’s like, “Just wait, just calm down, we’ll get through it.” So I had to learn to be a little bit more patient and just cut a little at a time.
Do you have any hair tips of tricks?
J: Sleep in a silk bonnet or put a silk bonnet on the pillowcase. That’s great for your hair because it helps to retain moisture, helps keep it soft and makes it easier to manage and maintain, but it’s also good for your skin. And then also I would say watch what you eat. Your hair and your skin are all about your diet as well. Eat foods rich in protein because our hair is really just protein. And stay away from the processed foods and drink plenty of water and fresh herbal teas as opposed to coffee. I think you’ll start to notice the difference.
Do you prefer to wear your hair curly or straight on the red carpet?
J: I actually switch back and forth. On the red carpet I’ve worn it curly and I’ve worn it straight. It just kind of depends on my outfit, how I’m feeling and things like that. But I actually like wearing it curly. It’s fun, it’s interesting and you don’t have to worry about weather, depending on what part of the country you’re in. You don’t have to worry about it getting poofy or anything like that because it’s in its natural state.
Are there any natural hair celebrities whose hair you drool over?
J: I’m loving Solange’s hair. I think she looks like a doll. Her hair has really brought out her beautiful features and she wears it well. I haven’t seen her in person but in photos her hair looks really really healthy and beautiful. If I see her I’ll tell her how beautiful her hair is (laughs). I also love Alicia Keys. When she wears her hair natural it looks very healthy and beautiful.
Do you have any projects coming up?
J: I have a movie I just did with Danny Trejo called Bad Ass. It’s an action movie. I think that’ll be out some time next year. And then we’re currently filming Let’s Stay Together. I believe the air date is January 12. If you want to know more I’m on Twitter @JoyfulDrake. I’m always talking about what’s going on and what I have coming up.
Thanks for the awesome interview Joyful! Be sure to check Joyful out on Twitter.