Jonica Booth is a firecracker in all aspects of her life and career and she delivers nothing but amazing energy into the universe. You may recognize the St. Louis native from the reality television show Bad Girls Club, but now she’s stepping into the limelight as one of the main characters on Issa Rae’s new show Rap Sh!t on HBO Max.
The premise of the show follows two high school friends from Miami who reconvene and join forces to form a rap group. Booth’s character goes by the name of Chastity, who calls herself the Duke of Miami. If you haven’t seen the show, Jonica suggests you start at Episode 4… because she’s that confident you’ll get reeled in.
In describing herself, Booth states, “I’m down-to-earth, I’m comfortable. When you’re around me, that’s what I want people to take from me. ‘I was comfortable around her, I felt calm.’ I’m funny, comfortable, a vibe. A good time.”
From her social media alone, Booth wants to inspire you to be yourself. She explains, “Hopefully when you walk away, you experienced something, even if there’s just a smile.”
And with her big afro and even bigger personality, Booth demands attention in any room she walks into. Her previous life as a basketball player helped her tap into her competitive nature, with an undeniable passion to be great.
Sheen spoke with Jonica Booth to discuss her dry audition with Issa Rae via Zoom, why Rap Sh!t is a must-watch, renewing a second season, her time on Bad Girls Club, goals, and more!
How are you today? How are you feeling?
I feel great. We just got renewed for Season 2 for Rap Sh!t. We found out today so I’m excited to say the least.
That’s incredible. Wait, didn’t it just come out?
September 1st was our finale. We didn’t know. People thought we knew and I didn’t even know if we were getting renewed. In that last scene, I’m like oh wow, let’s go!
How did you land the role for Rap Sh!t?
My manager sent the audition over. I did the audition in December and didn’t hear anything back. With little effort from myself, they gave me another shot with some notes this time to do another solo take. I used the notes, got the role, and then I got to go on Zoom with Issa. That was crazy being on Zoom with Issa because I felt she was so serious, all professional and stuff. She probably didn’t know she made me so nervous. I’m going to tell her next time I see her too. Lol
Now that I know her, she’s still VERY professional, but definitely not dry. Issa, why would you scare me like that? After I did the first scene, she said, “Okay, let me see the second scene.” Okay, did the second scene. She said, “Where are you from?” I said “St. Louis… but I can act like I’m from Miami.” Originally, they wanted Duke to be from Miami. I said I’ve been in LA for some years, so I lost my accent. Give me a couple of weeks, I will get my St. Louis back. That accent is close to Miami and we can’t talk either. She said “Ha, okay thank you.” I’m like, oh I didn’t get that. I did not get that role.
What happened when you found out you got it?
It was a week later and my manager said “You are going to Miami.” I said, “I am? For what?” She said “You booked a role.” I don’t even think I cried in that moment. I felt relieved. For me, it’s all these years I’ve put in for acting. It’s like when you get a job. That’s all I could think: whoa, I got a job. It’s a hustle out here.
I literally work around the clock, so I feel you.
Yeah. People in LA ask, “What do you do for a living?” and I say “Anything that’s not degrading!”[laughs]
You were probably up against a lot of people, so that’s even more dope.
All I know is I was the first one that was booked for Rap Sh!t, nobody else. They didn’t have a Mia or a Shawna, but they had a Duke. I was cast so early on that I didn’t think the show was going to happen. I swear to God. I was cast in February and we didn’t hear anything else. I did not think the show was going to happen. There’s levels to this acting stuff. Not just in LA, but just in the industry in general.
My friend said to me today: “You got a Season 2! Some people don’t even… their pilot doesn’t even make it out. You got a whole season and now you got a Season 2.” Imagine me knowing that I booked this role a year before anything. Even celebrating for over a year that by the time the show came out, I was done celebrating. I didn’t want to celebrate.
How was that yachty party with Issa? Because we saw y’all turning up.
It was lit, I ain’t going to hold you. It was a vibe. It was good energy and a lot of people. I met The Sweet Life, the crew. The cast, Yvonne. I’ve been around her, but that was our first time talking. Lil Rel the comedian, he was there too. I got to have a conversation with her and Lil Rel and we were talking about stand up.
You know what, I’m back. I need to go ahead and get at it. I needed that motivation, that little push, but we kicked it. KaMillion was there, she plays Mia. It was a vibe, it’s good energy. Woody the Great was there, everybody was there.
For those who don’t know your character, why do they need to watch Rap Sh!t?
You don’t need to watch Rap Sh!t for my character, but because it’s a dope show. There’s somebody you can relate to. There’s a character you can relate to or you know someone like them. I play Chastity, aka the Duke of Miami. My character, you’re gonna have compassion for her. You might not like her off the rip, but she’s going to grow on you.
I need people to keep in mind that on every show, you have to build a foundation. If we didn’t build a foundation, you’ll be like well, where’d this come from? Where did it come from? The first 3 episodes might not be the ones that hit, but you have to get to episode 4. I guarantee once you look at 4, you’re gonna love it. That’s literally my favorite episode. I might go watch it today.
Episode 6 is when it takes off. That’s because the foundation has been built. If you haven’t watched it, watch it. Buy HBO Max, it’s $10! Watch the show, binge watch it, then I don’t care what you do with your subscription after that? We’re coming back, but it’s $10. McDonald’s dollar meals are $10 nowadays.
You were hooping back in the day right?
Definitely, for sure! I’m still trying to hoop. I keep telling everybody, I want to play in a celebrity basketball game. That’s my goal. After I do that, life is made. I’m talking about when the NBA has their celebrity game, I need to play in that.
You could give these guys a run?
Kevin Hart is about my size, I’m giving him buckets! Kevin’s got to see me.
How did you end up doing reality television? Specifically, Bad Girls Club.
Look, I did think that I was going to do Real World. I thought I was going to be on Real World. “I can do this, I should be in that house.” But that’s how I got on Bad Girls Club, because I was in the system from Real World.
I didn’t watch Bad Girls Club. I didn’t know about it and I didn’t see it. Nothing against it, I just didn’t watch it. I watched Law & Order SVU and Real World and that’s all I grew up watching back then. I wanted to do Real World. Long story short, they asked me about Bad Girls Club. Well shit, I’m not a bad girl but I’ll do it. Why not? I graduated college. I’m thinking live life, YOLO. Kids think that once you finish school, life’s about to be great. It’s a lie. It’s all a lie kids!
Shit hits the fan!
They’re lying to you: you finish school and now you are lost. I said sure, I want to be on reality TV. That’s how I got on.
Biggest pro and biggest con from Bad Girls Club?
The biggest pro was the fanbase that I met after. The biggest con was the fanbase that I met after. The haters! [laughs] The pro is it changed my life. Not because of it being on TV, although that’s the surface level, but for me internally it changed my life. Because it showed me that there’s another world out there.
Because of that show, they took me to Barcelona. I had never been out of the country. I didn’t know what Barcelona was. They had to redo the scene. I’ve never told anybody this. You know how on a reality show, you open something and you start screaming when you know where you’re going? Everybody said “Oh my god, we’re going to Barcelona!” I’m like, “We’re going to Barcelona!” I stopped, I said, “What is Barcelona? Is that a restaurant or something?” I had no clue.
But you knew Spain…?
I didn’t know anything. I thought it was somewhere in Chicago. How did they let me graduate? They had to cut the cameras and come back up. They said “Blu, we’re gonna do it again.” They showed me and I said, “We are going to Spain?! Do it again!”
Any goals for yourself at this point of your career?
I need to make new goals for myself because I’ve reached all my goals that I’ve set. These are goals that I’ve had since high school and I want to find new goals. I want an HBO special, a comedy special. That’s really one of my main goals and also to play in a celebrity basketball game. That’s one.
I want a pack. I know you’re like “What’s a pack?” I didn’t pick a number yet. People usually want a 6-pack. I don’t need that, I just need 3. I can even do two on one side and one on the other. I got a one-pack and I don’t want a one pack. I want 2 right there and 3 because nobody ever asked for a 3-pack. I want something that nobody has.
Photo Credits: Collin Stark