It’s not everyday you get to talk to a person who you admire to a regard of greatness. Back in the day before social media took over my life, I was addicted to television. Countess Vaughn was a household name for me as she was my breakout favorite from sitcoms such as 227, Moesha and The Parkers to name a few. More than just an actress, Countess was blessed with a voice. The type of voice that makes chillz run up your spine. Yasssssssssssssss Countess. #SheSangs.
In 2015 as she sits before me 6 sizes smaller than what most remember. Still going hard after 15 plus years in the game, we get to spend time with Countess Vaughn, the real Countess.
Countess Vaughn has made a notable impression as a versatile actress and singer. This statuesque beauty starred in the UPN’s hit series Moesha and The Parkers as Kimberly Parker. She starred in the hit series “Moesha” from 1996 to 1999. In 1998, Vaughn was honored with an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance. From there, Countess starred in the Moesha spin off “The Parkers” alongside Comedian Mo’Nique where the series aired from 1999 to 2004.
Hailing from Oklahoma, she began her performing career at the age of three in 1981 singing at church. At age nine in 1988, she sang “I’ll be there” to win Star Search. In the 1990s, Vaughn guest starred on Thea, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Roc. Outside of television, she performed in the off-Broadway musical Mama, I Want to Sing! Part 3. In 1992, Vaughn released her first album, Countess, featuring a variety of songs, including dance music and R&B. The album’s lead single, a cover of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”, charted in the top-100 of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In film, she co-starred in Trippin’ (1999), and in later years she guest starred on Cuts and Let’s Stay Together.
As of mid-2000s, Vaughn began appearing in the number of reality shows. In January 2006, she appeared in the third season of Celebrity Fit Club on VH1. On episode four, she announced that her and husband, James, were ending their marriage. During the course of the show, she became the first cast member to ever gain weight, with a weight gain of 2 pounds. It was said on the season finale that she was simply trying to lose weight at the wrong time. On August 30 2007, she appeared as a contestant on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar, but due to an illness she was eliminated from the competition. On October 8, 2014, Vaughn began starring in the TV One reality series Hollywood Divas where she is one of the minority actresses trying to navigate their career, family and relationships, while attempting to stay relevant in an unpredictable entertainment industry known for overlooking black talent.
Throughout the first season, fans got a real insight into the life of Countess Vaughn. She bared it all for her fans and let us know that she is human too. Get ready as we take it from zero to Raynbow with the Diva Doll.
DiamondKesawn: What’s it like coming from Oklahoma?
Countess: I lived there 20 years ago. I had always come to California to visit my grandmother. But living out here, I mean, it was a culture shock. I mean, to go from having one store, Walmart, to all of these stores out here, I was just a country girl going to the city, down on my knees, about Hollywood, trusting everybody and being nice. Being the nicest you can get taken for granted. You get hurt, confused, but in all of that, it made someone like me, made me humble and appreciate those who are good around me.
DiamondKesawn: For you, what was it like to live your life out, to literally live your teenage years out on television for the world to see?
Countess: Well, there were some good times and some bad times. In the good times, we had fun, you know it’s just all in mischief, but of course, whenever media, social media at that time, seen something going on it was amplified, when it was something that could have been handled really quickly. But it was harder because we were kids on TV. And the part that I have repeated over and over, it just really upset me how adults comment on 2 teenage girls having an argument a couple of times, we work together 15 hours, you think everything is going to be great all the time? No. But we’re teenagers, that’s going to shift. In two days, we love each other. You know what I mean? And we can’t live without each other. So it’s really silly for them to like basically focus in on our relationship at that time because it was up and down and we were teenagers. And teenagers do that, I have one teenager and I know it’s just sporadic. One day it’s good, one day it’s bad.
DiamondKesawn: I’ll never forget you were on Sinbad and he had asked you the question about the supposed beef between yourself and Brandy, and you sat there and you said to him, “That’s my sister. I love her. I love you B.”
Countess: I’m gonna tell you, that was like when I was 16 years old. That’s in-house. That’s my sister. I’m never gonna put anybody down in front of other people and give them what they want, hell no. And that also wasn’t my truth anyway. That was my sister and everything was good. I don’t get down like that. We got enough people putting us down in the industry who watch us, who are with us, who say they’re with us, everything. We go through a lot being actresses. It’s more than just having that one hat on. When I got my own show, I then had so much respect from Bran because I didn’t know what she was going through. There were a lot of times being her sidekick, you don’t have the responsibilities that the lead has, she’s there when you get there and she’s there when you leave, on top of all of the other projects that she had to do. And now, I have my own show and I understood sometimes when she was frustrated. I get it. And it’s just God who allows you to do this to understand people’s pain. So now, I’m always when I’m in a situation, I always try to put their hat on to get a better idea of what they’re going through, and then I see how it goes, I try.
DiamondKesawn: How did it feel to go from the, supporting character to now being the lead girl, the it-girl, Kimmy Parker, The Parkers?
Countess: It was fun and exciting. It was wonderful. I was made for it and fit to it like a fish to water. And being in the industry at eight years old, I knew how to act. I knew how to relax, so I didn’t wear myself out. It was good to be on the set where it was older people, where I could observe, like learn and try to conserve my energy, so I wouldn’t be stressed and acting crazy. I didn’t party. I was really strict on myself at 18 living on my own. I wasn’t clubbing while the season was going on, it was different when it was down time. I had to go and hang out with my brother and go to all the clubs and balls and things like that. But when in season, It was time to buckle down and do that and go to work. I was focused and I didn’t club and my weekends were about relaxation. I was just able to cook the formula to be successful and that’s not to be stressed and tired.
DiamondKesawn: Now, after The Parkers, we had this moment where some people say she took a break, some people say she just went MIA, we see the stories of how the lace-front wigs, you were allergic and they’re causing allergic reactions so that’s forced you to take time away.
Countess: It was a standstill of my years, so I didn’t create them and say, “How can I still stay in the business?” So I did voiceover, you know, wherever I could fit in, write music as an artist, whatever way I could fit in to make my money, and after I healed. I did reality shows. I did a Celebrity Rap Show, and then it came back. I got up under the light and she had just glued me down and all I remember was not even doing the happy dance but just to jerking. It was so bad and it hadn’t healed but I was such in a rush. All the celebrities were rapping about things, I was there, I was ready to go. I told the hairdresser Put the glue on the wound. I was so excited about being there, and a girl’s ears was white, my forehead was white, it had come back. So it was time to really sit down and check myself and say, “You can’t rush things. You have to heal up, otherwise you’re going to ruin it even more.” So I shut down and in the process of shutting down I gained weight, and I got comfortable, and I did other shows, not recurring, but guest spots, more of a look. Then, I got the offer of Hollywood Divas. And I said, “Why not be able to have my audience, catch up on what’s going on in my life real quick?” And so I sat with Carlos, we had a couple of meetings and it’s been a beautiful situation ever since. I let him know what I wanted to do, as far as my career and what I wanted to look like and we made it happen.
DiamondKesawn: For you being a real actress, how does it feel to crossover into reality television?
Countess: It’s fine because I don’t look at it like that, I just look at it as me being able to hang out with some girls and get paid at the same time and show my truth, let people know what my personality is like. And that’s it, and like I said before, allow my audience to know what’s up with Countess, what’s she doing right now? It’s great.
DiamondKesawn: Now speaking with what’s up with Countess, Countess did lost like 14 dress sizes. You’re looking real skinty these days. You been eating carrots and broccoli girl?
Countess: Yes, but it’s also that I love myself and I know people hate to say it, I love myself and I got work done, yes I say it. Now, I love myself enough to go and have fun in life. I wanted to get that done and I don’t see anything wrong with it. I’m not a repeat member, I don’t go on every second and let them tuck and fix something. Every time I had a child, it was a six months to a year later, that’s when I go and get it done. This time, I waited five years later to see what my body was going to do. I was like Uh Ah. So I took to the doctors. I was swollen second season, and people like, “Ooh, did it work?” And well, it did. You know, I couldn’t understand why, it is what it is, but I came out on the other side happy about it, Golden had given me a hard time about it. If you don’t fix that inside, and you know saying all that crazy stuff. She’s been the main one and she has called like, “Girl, what did you do?” I’m telling you, it’s just coming from a loving place. It’s sad, kind of weird, but she doesn’t mean it in a bad way. And the thing is, I just know how look at my check and walk away. She can say all the stuff that she can say, they all can, you can say whatever to me if you give me a coin-coin. So if you’re broke, and after saying crazy stuff to me, she ain’t that. That’s also my t-shirt line, “She Ain’t That.” That’s what I say all the time. And it’s a beautiful thing because when you put this shirt on it sets the tone and the mood. People start reacting and say, “Don’t be mad.” The simplest thing set a wave in the energy when it comes to people. I put the “Don’t be mad” t-shirt on, I swear to god, everybody’s energy is better.
DiamondKesawn: So you got the t-shirt line. I heard you got some wigs coming out. Tell me about it.
Countess: I have these beautiful open-lace wigs and the way you can put them on, you don’t have to apply anything because that was my problem, the glue or the tape, and then you put it on and you scratch your edges out, it’s not the same. But these wigs are just beautiful, the colors, because I didn’t want to try out color at first, because I felt like I’m 37, I need to stay in my lane. I don’t need to go with bright blue or anything, but everything can be done classy. So I put the wig ideas together.. And if you have long hair and you don’t want to cut your hair, you can always do the little quick cheat wigs that I let people see me in or long on one side, they are all from my line. You don’t have to cut your hair. You don’t have to dye it. You just have to get one of my Countess Couture wigs. And it’s not going to be sourced like the other brands. It’s affordable. And it’s something that you can have all the time for a long period of time. It’s that good hair. So you buy this wig, wash it out, curl it, take care of it, you can have it for a year or six months.
Countess: I can’t tell you anything. I have to keep it a secret.
DiamondKesawn: So, It is possible that it might be true?
Countess: It is possible that is maybe true. I just don’t wanna get in trouble. I don’t wanna go against the rules. But you knowwwwwwww. *wink*
DiamondKesawn: I heard you’re doing a cookbook. What kind of healthy cookbook are you doing because I don’t eat brussel sprouts?
Countess: This is something that when you’re eating healthy, you don’t get tired of it, you know what I mean? There are different ways to squeeze in your food so that it’s going to be fun, even that doesn’t have to be a drag. A simple thing that I do all the time is always boil my vegetables in chicken broth and I tell you, it is so good. You don’t need any butter, any salt, and you can use a low-sodium chicken broth also. And I will be up there eating broccoli for days, do you hear me? Go home tonight, boil you some broccoli in some chicken broth. I swear to goodness. And then I do the fried orange chicken, where I do my orange chicken, and I take the oranges and boil it and make my sauce, add it with a little cinnamon, and I fry my chicken real hard and I pour that orange sauce over it. Now, that’s a little something for a cheating day, but that’s the way you do that and then the way I explain it in my book, you don’t have to stop eating a certain way, it’s your environment. You can make stuff that you want and have a whole bunch of people over where there are no leftovers. You can’t go back to the refrigerator and get that piece of cake. It’s gone, Ke-Ke ate it now take your butt back to bed and keep it moving. So that’s my idea of a healthier lifestyle. I want to be a part of Weight Watchers or Nutri-System, even though I got the work done through plastic surgery, I still wanna be able to maintain it. So I’m thinking of ways to collaborate with them and have a program for people who are trying to maintain their weight. They don’t understand the fact that there are times where I’m an emotional eater. I won’t be kidding with you right now and eating a bag of chips and wouldn’t now I was eating it. Yeah, it’s as out and I’m talking, so I have to be more aware of what was happening as far as the kitchen. I had to get that on my house. I leave them with some candy or something sweet, it’s not a whole bunch of it. It’s like a little bit. Just enough, and I want them to adopt this also. My dad had a heart attack, I don’t wanna be dead and he had diabetes. That was a wakeup call, he had stroke. That’s a wakeup call for me. If it happened to him, it’s definitely going to happen to me and I’m going down that road. So it was time to work on it.
DiamondKesawn: Now that Countess Vaughn is in her happy place, for that young female or that young male who is going to hear this interview and read this interview and say, “She understands me and she gets my struggle and I understand her.” What are those words of encouragement that you would have for them to say, “You know what, it will be okay. You can get through it?”
Countess: Even when I’m in it, I’m still going through different little struggles and it’s always entered a new level, new devil. Whatever level you’re at, you’re going to run into an obstacle. It’s how you handle it. People like to see you rattled and shaken by whatever situation, but if you take that bull by the horn and you handle it. And when you get on the other side, not only would you feel even stronger, but it’ll make you more understanding of the situation. Just keep going. Don’t let anybody make you feel like they’re the decider of your destiny. They can’t do, only you can. You can do it no matter what, new level, new devil. I’m a little girl from Idabel, Oklahoma, with a population of 5,000. 5,000, to come here to California to live my dream, with my parents, very supportive, both teachers, taught in between years. Now, they work in a mortuary but it’s the thing there was never any force on me to wanting to do this. In my mind, I still wanted to do right by them because they moved out here. I’ve always had all of that on my shoulders and responsibilities, and I still keep going. That is why when something happens, it may hurt a little bit but I don’t care as too much because I know that’s just how life goes.
DiamondKesawn: So we’re about to end 2015, we’re heading into 2016, you look amazing. You are amazing. Everything you do is amazing.
Countess: And I said, I’m 37 and I’ll be 38. I want to be healthy by 40. I wanted to be cute at 40. I wanna maximize myself, so I’m like I gotta fix this. So I’m getting my life together and getting everything in order, and so far it’s been a wonderful journey. It’s been bumpy, but it’s been wonderful. I’ve had wonderful support from my squad. They have gotten me together. My look is different, I had to change up a little bit, as far as the look and what these things and all of that, but I’m feeling better, I’m looking better and I want to do better, being that person. I have a moment.
DiamondKesawn: So 2016 is that year, are you about to grab it by the horns?
Countess: Yes, you will see a girl on Empire, you will see a little something. I need to be a little Cookie Lyon’s sister something. You know, they like the new look.
DiamondKesawn: Are we going to get any new music from you?
Countess: You know what, I love music but I don’t like the music lifestyle. You gotta know, there’s a case they’ll be calling my kids and finding out how they’re doing and skyping, and is there any way a mother can do a concert in her living room? I would be doing it all the time, just as I’m not going to do any music, I’m not going to say never, but with the right combination of producers and I’m sending from a record company, but it would be seasonal where I will come out, maybe during the summer when my kids are in school, so definitely I’m all for it. It’s just the right marriage between me and the company, but family comes first.
DiamondKesawn: So do me this favor, for the fans and everyone out there, tell them how they can find you, how they can follow you, the story, all of it.
Countess: Instagram, @CountessDVaughn. Don’t forget to put the “D” in between there because we have different people saying that they’re me all the time. So it’s “CountessDVaughn.” And for the shirts, it’s www.coun-tees.com.
You know I give you the latest, the greatest and the exclusive and there you have it. Countess D. Vaughn in her own words told her way…… #SheSlays
A new report commissioned by UltraViolet, GLAAD, Kairos, and Women’s March shows that women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people experience higher levels of harassment and threats of violence...