LisaRaye McCoy Brings Awareness to HIV/AIDS with Online Video Campaign
An actress, a mother, a former first lady of Turks & Caicos - LisaRaye McCoy considers herself to be "a voice" speaking up in the hopes of changing the conversation about HIV & AIDS.
Clad in her signature white, McCoy recently put out a video for Break the Silence, a grassroots public awareness campaign devoted to raising awareness of AIDS issues. In her recent PSA for the Break the Silence campaign, McCoy speaks of AIDS awareness as though she is speaking to her daughter, asking, "What is my responsibility? What is your responsibility to you? Protect yourself, that’s the least you can do."
McCoy began working in conjunction with Break the Silence not only as a concerned mother, but as a concerned voice for the minority community. She has long been a television fixture and a role model for African American women. Her ascent to notoriety began with a lead role in the 1998 film The Players Club, written and directed by Ice Cube and co-starring Bernie Mac. In 2003, she took on the role of Neesee James on the UPN/CW sitcom All of Us. This role earned her a nomination for an NAACP Image award in 2007. During that time, she also appeared in 2005’s Beauty Shop. She currently appears as Keisha on the VH1 program Single Ladies.
McCoy, who has a particular penchant for wearing white, was married to the Premier of the Islands of Turks and Caicos, Michael Misick, from 2006 to 2008, making her the island nation’s first lady. In the aftermath of her divorce McCoy and her daughter Kai starred in the reality show "LisaRaye: the Real McCoy" on the TV ONE network. Beyond incorporating her political position in her acting life, she also saw her stature as a means to do charity work.
On her website, she mentions the importance of working with many underserved communities in the island nation. In addition to this work, she has been a Global Ambassador for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation, Circle of Promise (as listed on her website), working with fellow actor Steve Harvey. She also joined Newt Gingrich and Rev. Al Sharpton on their "Listening and Learning " tour, where they traveled the country and spoke with parents, students and teachers about education reform.
But McCoy has not only worked as a crusader against disease - she has also worked specifically to help young girls of the African-American community. Through her Lady Raye foundation, she has put on the Miss Raye Diant Jewels Teen Pagent. Unlike typical pageants, McCoy’s program is built around reinforcing the self-esteem of young girls. As per her website, the pageant serves as "an opportunity to expand their skilled and creative minds, overcome challenges like peer pressure and low self - esteem, have confidence and social skills," and prepare them for the future. Thus far, Miss Raye Diant Jewels Teen Pageants have been held in Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago, continuing McCoy’s mission from her years in Turks and Caicos, working with young girls in underserved communities.
Break the Silence is a new charity venture for McCoy, but one she feels strongly about. Grown out of a grassroots publicity campaign, Break the Silence’s stated mission "is to change the way America [thinks] and [talks] about HIV/AIDS."
Whereas 20 years ago, when Magic Johnson contracted HIV, AIDS awareness was a huge part of the national conversation. The Break the Silence campaign feels that the focus has slipped away from AIDS awareness, and it appears this is particularly true in the African American community. According to the CDC, as of 2009, African-Americans accounted for 14 percent of the U.S. populations, but 44 percent of new HIV infections for the calendar year. The CDC also reports that being unaware of an HIV diagnosis also puts patients at risk - something that LisaRaye McCoy and Break the Silence are actively trying to fight.
McCoy is working specifically with this campaign to remove the stigma of openly discussing sexuality and the possibility of disease in the African American community. Her first PSA has gone viral, posted repeatedly on Break the Silence’s Facebook and Twitter pages. She is continuing to work with the organization, and looking to work with charity partner Steve Harvey. Based on the statistics, her fight to raise awareness and affect the community conversation will indeed be a life-saving one.