If you watched OWN’s hit dating series, “Ready To Love,” chances are you fell in love with cast mate Shea. She’s the fierce, beautiful and independent entrepreneur who captured Mike’s heart so quickly, no one else ever really had a chance.
But Shea, 44, admits she went into the show, skeptical that real love could come from the experience.
In this exclusive interview, Shea tells theGrio why she’s ready for a new life chapter with her boo, and breaks down why it’s never too late to live your best dating life.
theGrio: Talk to us about why you went on the show and what your experience actually was, compared to what you thought it would be.
Shea: Initially a friend of mine kind of threw my pictures into the hat. Really I’m such a private person. I was gonna sabotage the moment…. I just didn’t want to do it because I like my little private life and I don’t like people picking at me.
I figure I’ve been here [in Atlanta] for 10 years and I know everybody.
That’s so discouraging because you don’t even get to meet people for who they are because everybody else has a story on that person.
So I was just interested to see “What y’all got?” because I feel like I know everybody. You couldn’t possibly have something different that what I’ve been looking at.
And I walk through the door and there was Mike and I was like, “Well damn… Maybe I do have something here.”
At that point I was all in.
theGrio: What do you think women can take in terms of principles for approaching dating? As grown women, what can be learned from watching the stories on the show?
Shea: I think it’s really a dating guide, things you should and shouldn’t do. How you should take your time with getting to know people and understanding just being compatible.
A lot of times you want to force fit some stuff because we feel like, “Oh my gosh, I got to have a man, have a warm body to lay in my bed” and y’all not compatible.
They’re a vegan and you like eating steak every weekend.
First of all you have to look within yourself and see there’s issues with yourself and what can you do to improve. It ain’t always everybody else’s fault.
I learned that about myself on the show. Sometimes I am a little bit too hard on people. I don’t have to be so hard core about everything.
theGrio: So what was going through your mind as you were being questioned about having a baby. What was that internal struggle?
Shea: I think Mike is getting a bad wrap, like he just want a baby-making machine. We talked about marriage, about expectations.
For me it’s doing it right the second time and being able to enjoy that experience rather than being under so much pressure of “I’m 20. I want to go out, I want to party.” It’s not a pleasant experience when you do it by yourself.
So I just want to do it in a good way. I want to be able to look across the room and see my child with his or her father.
You know I truly can see that in Mike because I see how he cares for me, how he cares for his sister, how he cares for the women in his family.
But I needed to sit back and see him in all aspects first before I just throw a baby in the mix.
theGrio: Have a bunch of men hit on you even more since watching you on the show? Because you are pretty fly!
Shea: (Laughs) I’ve had quite a few blasts from the past. It’s funny how everybody want to be like, “Hey, how you doing?” Nah Nah nah I’m good now. No thank you!
It almost seems like when people see somebody else they want you even more. I mean I’ve never had a problem with dating here in Atlanta. My issue was time.
If I’m running my business and I have a deadline, I’m probably going to blow you off. Or tell you I can’t do it or I can’t go or “If you want to hang out you need to come up here.”
I know a bunch of good men that’s ready, they’re just not the men for me.
theGrio: Why do you think this show was so important in terms of showing grown people dating?
So many shows target a younger demo and there’s this expectation that you have to be married by a certain age. But what do you think this show did for changing the conversation about Black love?
Shea: I think it’s a misconception that when you get in your 40s or your 30s you not fly. Man I just kind of feel like 40s is the new 20s. We look good. These women are fit, they beautiful, they bad.
Black love has almost got cast in a bad light. You know, like it doesn’t exist. The Black family doesn’t exist. Black men don’t want black women. That’s bull you know.
It’s time for people to see, and the world to see that good looking people can get together. It could be a sisterhood among Black women, we’re not catty.
I’m not trying to hate on any of the other reality shows. You know it’s too much enjoying the drama and the hatred among women.
We can all be friends and create this family atmosphere. Out of all of that we can also have a relationship that buds into something beautiful. It’s not a bunch of scammers, these are hardworking people.
That really want to find love in the right way. They’re making themselves vulnerable.
You don’t even understand, there’s been a lot of tears and a lot of real feelings being exposed on this show. It’s a really open and humbling experience and it’s a journey that people need to enjoy and watch.