Making lemonade out of lemons is an old cliche but it’s one that epitomizes the life of Demetria McKinney. The actress dropped out of school at the age of 17 to have a baby. She thereafter battled with homelessness but did not let all of that get in the way of striving for a better life. Today, McKinney is a Hollywood star who has been featured in several popular shows and movies.
Also a budding singer with a full-length album to her name, this entertainer is known for her role in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. She has played other roles in The Rickey Smiley Show, Superstition, and Saints & Sinners. Given the challenges she faced earlier in life, her rise to fame has become an inspiring tale for many people.
Demetria McKinney Was Molested By Her Stepdad
Many things went wrong with Demetria’s childhood. For instance, her stepdad tried to molest her. Demetria promptly informed her mom who took no concrete steps to address the situation. The young McKinney thus left home for the streets where she lived for some time.
The actress described her late teens as one of the roughest times of her life riddled with molestation, homelessness, and abusive relationship. Despite her homelessness and the accompanying trauma, McKinney completed her diploma at the Fort Walton Beach High School.
The actress cum singer later went ahead to earn further academic qualifications, obtaining a degree from the Okaloosa-Walton Community College. She stands as proof that no matter how hard life gets, there is a way to emerge victoriously.
She Also Had to Struggle With Teenage Pregnancy
Demetria McKinney had a life-changing experience during her formative years when she found herself in the family way at the age of 17. She really had a hard time because of this.
According to the actress and singer, the experience was not a funny one and it only got worse after the birth of her son, Cairo. However, the young mother’s ambition was not doused as she kept hope alive throughout her struggles.
When she took in, her understanding that she was in for a tough time ahead helped her nurture the strength that saw her through it. For her, the challenges she faced are a big part of her success story as it propelled her to strive harder for a better life.
View this post on Instagram
I am #flawed. I've fallen a lot. Sometimes I let myself cry. I've been homeless , abused, alone before. It all led to me…..becoming me. While I wish these things on noone, I embrace what I've come through fully and with fierceness. #challengeaccepted @eyecandycreationsllc
Her Acting Career Commenced With Cameo Roles
Demetria McKinney fell in love with the performing arts at an early age. As a child, she admired musicians such as Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, and Whitney Houston, but she was far from being an early bloomer, perhaps because of her early life struggles.
Consequently, she was already in her mid-twenties when she made her acting debut with a small part in the 2004 film, Meet The Browns. After that, she also featured in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married as well as Madea’s Family Christmas.
And Her First Major Role Was in House of Payne
She landed a major role starring in the sitcom, House of Payne. The comedy series revolved around a multi-generational African-American family and the issues they had to deal with. In the series, Demetria McKinney played the role of Janine Payne, a seemingly responsible adult and mother who later turns into a drug addict.
House of Payne ran from 2006 to 2012 and McKinney appeared in about 153 episodes of the show. Her excellent performance in the comedy earned her a nomination for Best Performance in a Comedy at the 2009 National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications Vision Awards.
The sitcom’s spin-off, The Paynes, had her on set in 2018 reprising the role.
Playing Whitney Houston in Bobbi Kristina and Other Roles that Made Her a Popular Actress
You’ll find Demetria McKinney in Bobbi Kristina, a 2017 biopic about the life and times of Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi. In the film which was aired on TV One, McKinney portrayed the role of the iconic singer, Whitney Houston.
According to the actress, she really had to dig deep and become the most vulnerable version of herself to depict the character of Houston. She also revealed that it was Houston who inspired her to make her debut album, Officially Yours, which was released in 2017.
Earlier on, the American actress had appeared as a guest on a good number of productions which include the likes of Necessary Roughness, Devious Maids, Drop Dead Diva, Being Mary Jane, and Chicago Med. She has always appeared as a guest star on The Real Housewives of Atlanta since its 7th season.
The Rickey Smiley Show which aired from 2012 to 2014 had Demetria McKinney as a series regular. She was seen as Tamara Austin in Saints & Sinners (2016). The next year, the actress shared the screen with Robinne Lee and Mario Van Peebles in the Syfy horror drama, Superstition.
McKinney had a recurring role as Beretta Hobbs in The Quad, the BET drama series that lasted from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, she played the lead in the Christmas romantic film, A Stone Cold Christmas. 2019 saw her work with Paula Jai Parker in the Urban Movie Channel family drama series, A House Divided She later appeared in the Freeform drama series, Motherland: Fort Salem.
Demetria’s Musical Exploits also Contributed to Her Fame
The mother of two has performed in several musicals. She made an appearance in Dreamgirls alongside Jennifer Holliday in 2012 and also lent vocals to Anthony David’s album, Love Out Loud. Her 2015 single titled Trade It All charted on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs.
McKinney dropped her debut album titled Officially Yours in 2017. It saw her became a nominee for NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. The album had popular singles like Happy, Is This Love, and Easy.
The Singer Was Once Engaged to Roger M. Bobb
The House of Payne star has never been married. However, she came close to that when she dated the accomplished producer and director, Roger M. Bobb.
The duo met in 2006 at Tyler Perry Studio during the production of House of Payne. Robb was the executive vice president of the studio. Thus, they kept their relationship a secret for a long time but went public after the show wrapped up in 2012.
Roger pooped the big question while they were in Detroit, Michigan on the 1st of January 2016 where Demetria McKinney was opening for R.Kelly. They went as far as making plans for a September wedding but things went south all of a sudden and they had to go their separate ways in mid-2016.
And Started Dating Eric Phillips in 2016
Sadly, Demetria McKinney won’t be taking the walk down the aisle with Roger, but the actress doesn’t seem to be tearing her heart out over the failed relationship. The entertainer seems to be doing perfectly well as she has moved on with another lover.
The identity of the new man in her life was later revealed as Eric Nealante Phillips, a music executive. Demetria seems to be all out for it as she wasted no time in flaunting their photos on social media.
She Is a Single Mother of Two
Demetria used to be taciturn with information regarding her first son born in January 1997. She had only revealed that it was tough being a single mom; thankfully, things improved as her son got older.
The actress has a good relationship with Cairo, she said he’s like a dad to her as he is always looking out for her. Cairo is now a rapper and a photographer.
An announcement came from Demetria McKinney on the 17th of October 2016, specifying that she was expecting her second child. She gave birth to a baby boy a few months later.