OWN Networks “Ready to Love" Star Courtney Larisa Talks About Life & The Defining Moments o
Courtney Larisa, bomb flight attendant by day and soul surfer in her free time, joined the cast of OWN Networks newest series, Ready to Love. Larisa said that she wanted to test the waters and see if she could find her perfect match. However, she didn’t learn about the rules to the dating hoopla until the first day of filming— Larisa participated under the idea that there would be black women and men ranging from their 30’s to 40’s looking for an authentic relationship, no games, no gimmick, right?
Wrong! The show was anything but simple. Observably, the series seemed more like a social experiment, examining the facets of love from the dating scene in Atlanta Georgia, where the ratio of men to women would be about twenty to one. Twenty women clambering for the affection of one man. Believe it or not, that’s how the show kicks off in a more ultramodern way. There were twelve women and eight men, total—These weren’t your average adults. They were the crème of the crop, successful and vibrant beings from Atlanta, Georgia.
Aaron, Alexx, Angel, Ashlee, Chris (Paco), Pastor Chris, Christina, Courtney, Darnell, Devan, Kebba, Dr. Lexy, Melinda, Michael, Rita, Shanta, Shantava, Shea, Stormy, Tiffany.
“When we got to the mansion on the first day, they kept us separate the entire time. As you see us walking in, that’s literally our first interaction with everybody,” explains Larisa. “So, when I get there, I’m like, ‘I have a master’s degree. I used to be a school teacher. I know I’m adding this up correctly [and] it’s not adding up. There’s twelve women and eight men,” she laughed.
Three men left on the first night of filming, which tallied a staggering five guys. That’s twelve women and five men.
The series is a Will Packer Media and Lighthearted Entertainment presentation, with an exceptional twist; hence, twenty to one ratio of women to men…
Leave it up to Auntie Oprah, to veer from the normal productions, and showcase an absolute mood, where these singles could find love, but they had to fight for it at the very beginning.
Foremost, Larisa, though glowing with style, grace and beauty, is that relatable homegirl who wants all her gal pals to win in life, and that’s the same mentality that she encompassed while on the show. If it were up to her, there’d be no competitions. She vetted all the females as Queens, without diminishing their qualities of being that one-in-a-million girl. In her eyes, they were all franchise players. That wasn’t necessarily the case for the other women who were threatened by Larisa.
However, Larisa did meet one allie while on set. She is friends with Christina from the show, so there weren’t any bad vibes between the two beauties, and they still hangout from time-to-time.
For those that follow the show, Larisa threw caution to the wind and bowed out gracefully on the latest episode, which aired December 1st… Keep in mind the interview happened weeks before the air date.
“The attraction for Aaron is… a few things. I can’t speak for other women, but, me, personally, I’m the type of woman where… you got to be checking for me,” she said when asked about the attraction all the women had towards Aaron.
Larisa sensed that Aaron had the hots for one of the other women on the show, and she wasn’t having it. Larisa knew her value and worth before joining the cast, which made it that much easier to walk away when her proverbial season was up. No harm. No foul. Life goes on.
“I’m going to tell you another thing about this show—This show is real. If you are over the age of 30, you are going to relate to this show. The thing I like most about this show is [that] it’s from a male’s perspective. When you see this show, that’s the first time we’re seeing the show edited.”
According to Larisa, she enjoyed the experience, stripping a man down mentally, and getting to the essentials of his mind, unearthing his heart, the beautiful place that he keeps hidden.
“I think it gives you the perspective of a man’s point of view. Honestly, I used to think men were simple. They are more complex than what I thought.”
Larisa didn’t get comfortable especially when Nephew Tommy came around, because that meant someone was going home. The lesson she learned is that men are not capable of being honest. In their vulnerabilities, they’d rather string women along than to tell them that there was no connection at all, creating an even bigger problem.
“Why do yawl [men] think that we’re just so fragile,” Larisa spoke rhetorically. “We are resilient. We are strong. Dude, if you don’t like me, I’m not going to go home and slit my wrist. I promise. Dude, if you don’t like me, I did not lose the beauty pageant.”
Ready to Love empowered Larisa more to find her ideal mate, and not settle for parts of a heart when she could have the whole thing.
“I still believe in love. I'm going to always believe in love. I know that black love is always beautiful. Love is real, and love can happen in least expected places with the least expected person. I think a lot of times, we meet a person’s representative. It takes a solid two years to meet the real person and not the representative. You get tired of that cycle of wasting time. I think we get discouraged with love because you can’t trust people these days.”
Larisa isn't sure if she’d do another show like that again even though she had fun interacting with everyone.
Speaking of interactions— Arguably, Michael was the better fit for Larisa, but you know… it played out the way it played out.
So, with the departure of Ms. Fab, that isn’t the end of her explicable journey. She’s got many irons in the fire. She recently co-hosted the launch of ’The Curvy Girl Collection’ by Ashley Stewart, in Harlem. She also co-hosted The Quiet Storm with broadcast legend, Lenny Green.
Courtney Larisa is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. Nevertheless, while filming Ready to Love, she was stationed in Atlanta, Georgia, because of her fulltime gig with the airline.
“I was a school teacher in Louisville. I worked as a school teacher and an adjunct college professor, a special education teacher. I taught kids with learning and behavioral disabilities for 8 years.
I was a collaborative teacher one year and had this 15-year-old boy in my class. He was fly,” she complimented. “I never met his mother, but his grandmother loved me to death. When I met him, he couldn’t read. I never met anyone his age that couldn’t read. That was crazy to me. When I tested him, he was reading at zero, a kindergarten level. He was smart. You could lecture him in other areas and he would know it.”
Larisa learned through testing that the child was dyslexic, and she recognized it immediately. As soon as she found out, she notified the boys grandmother and then set out to get him the tools that he needed to teach him how to read.
“We stayed after school 3 to 4 days a week… I went to the local Goodwill and found an entire Hooked on Phonics set, and I paid five dollars for the whole kit. That was the blessing. By the end of the school year, he was reading at a fourth grade level.
I saw him in the mall 3 years later… he was in the 11th grade. He ran up to me, and he said that he was with his mom and he wanted me to meet her. Remember, I never met his mom… It was so humbling.
This kid will never forget me. He will remember me for the rest of his life as the teacher who taught him how to read.”
The 37-year-old is a credit restoration’s professional, who works closely with real estate agents to help first time buyers purchase their homes.
She got into the business about 11 years ago. Larisa wanted to buy a triplex, but she had terrible credit. At the time, she was engaged to be married. Even though her credit wasn’t the best, her beau had A1 credit. Before they could finish the process, her fiancé pulled out of the deal, which crushed Larisa’s vision of owning the multiplex.
“I think my score was 500 or 510—It was low. I went to my friend, who was a real-estate agent at the time. She told me I couldn’t even buy a candy bar,” Larisa chuckled.
Larisa followed the guidance of her friend to the letter and restored her credit on her own. She finally purchased her first home.
“I did everything that she told me to do. I bought my first house June of 2008. I bought my house and paid it off. When I did that, all my friends asked me to help them, and I taught them what was taught to me. Before long, I was just helping my friends buy properties.
You have creditor predators in our black communities, that’s taking advantage of people who are trying to do better and have better. People are robbing them for their money and aren’t doing anything. I started working with first time home buyers because of that. The catch is, it’s referral based and you need to be in the process of buying your home.
My high is helping people. Even as a teacher, my drug was helping other people. When my students were successful, and they believed in themselves, that was a drug for me. It made me happy. It started that way with the credit repair when I saw people going from doubt and despair, to becoming home owners, that started being my new high.”
The credit guru uses social media to get the word out about her practices, and that’s how she’s able to gather clientele.
"People always think I come from this well-to-do, two parent household, but I come from the West End of Louisville, Newburn. We’re on the First 48… I grew up in the hood. I’m just a ghetto chick that made it out the hood," she said when expressing her disdain for gentrified areas.
“I look at certain areas and I know how rundown and abandoned, and abused they were. I know what was going on in those areas. I’m just speaking of my home city of Louisville. That’s what I’m most familiar with, that’s home. With the gentrification there, in my city, they’ve made some mixed income properties and communities. It’s not like Brooklyn, where you don’t know where you are. In my hometown, they’ve made three-hundred-thousand dollar condos next to a subsidized complex. It’s a balance in my community. It saddens me because I’d like to see more of us buying those properties instead of being renters in those areas. I’d like to see us in our community have it designed to where it’s no need for gentrification because we’re building up our own community instead of tearing it down.”
Larisa is working on a sequence of [free to the public] community workshops addressing “Fixing Your Credit.” The classes will take shape in Atlanta, Georgia. She is hoping to partner with banks, realators & credit companies, to bring this informative series to the Atlanta market.
As for philanthropic freedoms, she’d love to sponsor impoverished kids with their college funds, in addition to starting an after school tutoring program for kids.
“I’d love to open halfway houses for the men coming out of jail, that gives them a positive space to live and rebuild. I’d like to open that positive space to women and children who are overcoming drug addictions. With me growing up, when people wanted to do better, they didn’t have outlets to really do that. I’ve known so many people that were addicted to drugs. They’ll go to rehab and have four or five months clean. They’ll come home, and they are in the same environment. They don’t have a different environment because they don’t know anything else. That’s all there is. They spent all that time in a treatment center, and they were good. When they went back home, where they were in the hood, and then they got back on drugs because they didn’t have the willpower to refuse it. They didn’t want to be back on drugs, but they were back on it because they didn’t have a safe place to go. So, I would love to create a community for women and children that’s overcoming drug addiction, where they can come together and be each other’s support like the housing complex, where they have their own community of empowerment.”
Larisa acknowledges that in certain environments, black people aren’t allowed to grow. It’s kind of like the saturation of the Oscars, with Kevin Hart, where he relinquished his rights to present for the ceremony because activist from the LGBTQ were outraged regarding insensitive remarks he made 8 years ago. However, the question impended, “Should he be accountable now, for something that he did back then, when he continued to make urban movies without anyone voicing concern for that very same thing?” Now, that he is in a different space, a place of seriousness and veracity, he can’t in good conscious elevate to that next level because of the stigma surrounding those remarks. He can make movies for the black and urban viewers, but that is as far as he grows.
Provision & Destiny:
Larisa was the toughest debater from her school, who got to travel, because of her capacity for disputing facts. She was so good that her teachers paid for her trips so the young Larisa could travel alongside her classmates to the different debate competitions.
Notably, multifaceted in many areas, Larisa was uniquely endowed from speaking to lecturing. She overcame the odds and went on to do marvelous things. She calls it a blessing, but it’s clearly her destiny and purpose to rise above it all.
On the other hand, Larisa admits that she went through a tough stage when learning about religion and more importantly, believing it.
“I was like Neo from the Matrix, living in the world where nothing made sense, and finally, I just started praying.”
Larisa asked God to be transparent and give her a sign.
“I came across this verse in Matthews twenty-two, and it said, ‘If you don’t take anything else from this book, the entire book can be summed up in one commandment, ‘Love thy neighbor as you love thyself.’ That little, bitty, verse in that entire book, brought so much peace to my soul.”
Suddenly, it all made sense of who she was, and whom she’d grown to be…her life took off in an amazing way where she is completely in an indebted awe with the things that God has done with her life.
“God wants us to be fruitful and multiply, and love and worship him, and love each other. It’s that simple. That was my epiphany moment. I think that’s the thing about my life that’s important to me. I just want to be a good person. I’m not trying to take advantage of anyone. I don’t want to hurt anybody intentionally. I just want to be a good person and I want my life to have a positive impact with the people I meet."
Ready to Love: Saturday OWN 10:00 pm EST 9:00 pm CST