Kiki Haynes is best known for her infamous role on TBS series Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. She’s now stepping back from the mean girl we all love to hate and introducing us to a completely different side of Ms. Haynes. Kiki’s positivity radiants throughout her life, “I’ve always been that girl that could lemons into lemonade.” Her sweet and bubbly personality gives us a glimpse into a person we aren’t used to seeing, the real Kiki. She spoke with SHEEN exclusively to keep us posted on the hit musical stage play, Before You Say I Do and path she took to become the woman she is today.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you made your way into acting.
I am originally from New Jersey, I’m a Jersey girl. I went to a performing arts high school but before that, my middle school actually had a drama club and the teacher Ms. Neal was amazing. She had a contest once where the best actor in the school production from each grade won a chance to go to a live taping of The Cosby Show and I am happy to say that I won for the sixth graders. That is my earliest memory from when I knew that I wanted to be an actress because when we visit the set, we were welcomed with open arms by the cast and crew. Being in the studio audience, watching them film the television show live, and the energy from the audience, I just knew without a shadow of doubt that that’s what I wanted to do. I did not pursue my actual acting career until I graduated college. Once I graduated, I hit the streets of New York and went from there.
Tell us about ‘Before You Say I Do’ and the character that you portray.
‘Before You Say I Do’ is really an awesome project to be apart of. It is about three couples that go to a weekend retreat boot camp to find out if they’re actually ready to get married, which a lot of people don’t do. My character, Tori, is an artist who refuses to believe that her career is not going so well. In her mind, her career is going excellent and her fiancé has been her manager for the last six years. Since she is so focused on her career, he wants to get married but I keep postponing it, thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to be successful. He finally convinces her to marry him and go to this conference. She reluctantly goes but upon arriving, she learns a lot. Without giving away too much, I will say that my character is the one kicking and screaming when she arrives to the boot camp, thinking that she knows it all and that she won’t learn anything.
Do you mind sharing how you prepared for this role?
I received the script about a month early and part of the contract was that we had to be completely off book. It is about a 90-page script. Our first show was Saturday, October 7th, 2017 in Columbia, SC and prior to us putting on the show; we only had five days of rehearsal. I met my entire cast that Monday. Although I’m not married, I have been in a relationship before so I do understand that the fundamentals about being open to advice, I think that helped me keep an open mind.
How would you say this role is different from anything you have had in the past?
My most notable role right now is my character Keisha on ‘Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse.’ My character in ‘Before You Say I Do,’ Tori is not nearly as selfish as Keisha. Tori is definitely on her career but she is not willing to walk all over people, her only worry is that she doesn’t want to get married. With my character Keisha, the only thing that is important to her is that she wins by any means. Her character is very mean to everyone and not so trustworthy. She acts out because she’s been hurt in the past. With Tori, it’s not about that. She just wants to have a singing career and its not going well. She told herself that she needs to be 100% focused on that and she can’t when she has a relationship. In life, I think that the right partner can help you get to your goals, you just have to be open to it. The hearts of the character are completely opposite, Tori’s not selfish, Keisha is completely selfish.
What is one thing you believe aspiring actors should keep in mind about this industry?
You have no control on when and how things are going for you. You just have to go into it with an open mind. Definitely do the work. I think it is imperative that anyone that wants to be in this industry should know that it’s so much bigger than what it seems. Everyone just wants to get an agent, get a manager, get pictures, and it’s more than that. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the craft and the skills to make the role come alive. Go to acting classes or brush up on your acting skills. Once the ball starts rolling, enjoy life and don’t get so caught up. My character Tori in ‘Before You Say I Do’ gets so caught up in her career that she didn’t know how to enjoy life. People get so eye on the prize. Live in the midst of it. Don’t put a time limit on your goals. Go with the flow.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future and do you mind sharing your goals with us?
I love what I do, literally, whether I am in theater, in a television show, acting in a movie. I pray that I continue to be able to be a working actor. I would like to work on a sitcom on network TV, that would be awesome. I also want to get into producing and directing myself. I want to get more behind the scenes in terms of having more of a creative control. That is something really important to me. We just wrapped ‘For Better or Worse,’ we were blessed to have six seasons, starting in 2011. I’m not sure what the next step will be after ‘Before You Say I Do.’ I just hope it continues to get even bigger and better.
Please be sure to check out Ticket Master for your tickets to ‘Before You Say I Do.’ The following dates of the tour are listed below:
October 13th, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina at Ovens Auditorium
October 14th in Richmond, Virginia at Altria Theater
October 15th, 2017 in Raleigh, NC at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
All images provided by BEPR Agency