Andrea Kelly: Not Easily Broken

Monday, 05 November 2012 20:48 Written by  Iya Bakare

As she finishes the first season of VH1’s Hollywood Exes, Andrea Kelly admits it’s taking some time to get acclimated to all of the attention she receives from fans, media outlets and others. As the ex-wife of R&B singer R. Kelly, the professional choreographer says she’s soaking it in as she realizes this time around, the focus lies on her. As fans stop her for photo opps and recite her infamous “Dreaisms” from the show, the Chicago-native stands in awe of it all.

“I feel like people are on this journey with me and they are cheering me on,” she says. “I enjoy the love and support, and I enjoy giving it back. My children are my strongest supporters and are crossing that finish line with me.”

Andrea put the “real” in reality TV as viewers witnessed her suffer a serious foot injury, which had the potential to end her dancing career and saw her alter a life-changing tattoo, which she says carried more weight than she realized. Andrea admits the injury forced her to slow down, but it didn’t stop her.

“I’ve always said I have cracks, but I’m not broken,” she confesses.

Despite negative press about her former marriage, Andrea continues to move on with her life with their children as a classically-trained dancer and an entrepreneur. Hollywood Exes shed a different perspective and positive light on her life as she broadens her brand in L.A., and befriends other ladies who share similar experiences, and also finds a way to place a unique spin on how women are portrayed on “reality TV.”

“We’re a real sisterhood and our lives parallel each other because we lived it,” Andrea says. “We’re women who support each other. I’m ready to shine beyond the shadow and this show shows that women need other women. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but we show how grown women handle business and do it with class.”

As she prepares for a second season of the show, the mother of three stays busy as she finishes her book, Under the Red Carpet: My Life as R. Kelly’s Wife, which she says is about finding that place of balance and loving the lady in you.

“When your tank is on empty, you’re giving off fumes to everyone else,” she comments. “It’s okay to have that selfish moment and ask yourself what you need for that day to be you.”

Part of Andrea’s balance is sharing her gift with others. She believes she crawled and progressed to dancing, leaving walking out the process.

“I was told as a baby, I crawled to the TV screen where Soul Train was on, pulled myself up as I danced on beat, put my hands on the screen and said ‘More!,’” she recalls.

The entrepreneur developed her talent, with the support of her family, and says she aspires to nurture the skills of other young dancers as she works to establish a dance studio in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and in Atlanta. She’s currently working on her clothing line, Anosia, which she says is danced-inspired attire that is feminine, yet represents the boldness and strength of women. The fashion line marries her love for fashion and dance. Andrea cites 1970s fashion icons Eartha Kitt, Diana Ross and Diahann Carroll as her fashion inspirations and recalls falling in love with fashion in sixth grade.

Between motherhood, filming the television show, writing a book, her work as a philanthropist and all of entrepreneur endeavors, it’s an understatement to say Andrea adorns several hats. She doesn’t hesitate to give God and her family, including her extended family of close friends, credit for keeping her balanced and holding it all together.

“I wish everyone could have my dad – he’s my rock,” she adds.

When it’s time to decompress, the self-proclaimed cuddle bug admits she’s very much a family-oriented person who enjoys playing dress up with her daughter.

In the midst of it all, Andres admits she desires to get married again at some point and to have more children because she loves being a mother, but it’s a process to find the one whom she can share her life with.

“I never take time to be a girl,” she comments, about her dating life. “I want someone who feels we can stand in the spotlight and share it together. He doesn’t have to be a trillionaire, he doesn’t have to be a billionaire, but he can’t be a brokennaire.”

Andrea doesn’t shy away from the chance to pay it forward. Through her philanthropic work, the dancer contributes her time to Change 4 Change, a non-profit organization where underprivileged children have the opportunity to get exposure to the arts as they contribute their change and receive dance lessons from the classically trained dance instructor.

“I come to them as a dance teacher who grew up on 35th and King Dr. and loves children,” she says. “That’s my heart and my baby.”

As a dancer who supports all facets of theater, Andrea says she wants to open an academy for youth to celebrate that, which will provide opportunities for mentorship and students to learn all about all the careers involved in the theater industry. This summer, she worked with Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks and taught a dance camp for the Josh Howard Foundation.

Andrea offers an array of opportunities for people to express themselves through dance. She describes AKDT as her Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham-inspired dance theater that teaches Jazz, Hip Hop, and belly dancing to adults. Pink Kitty Cabaret encourages women to feel strong and beautiful, but also allows them to take control of their sensuality. In her “Beautiful Me” program, Andrea says she works to teach the difference between pretty and beautiful to young ladies.

“Pretty lasts for a moment, but beautiful lasts for a lifetime,” she comments.

As a mother, an entrepreneur, a professional dancer and instructor and as a public figure, Andrea says everything has its place and it’s crucial for her to remain a positive role model, especially at a time when our community needs more of them to look up to.

“We’re raising a generation without a foundation right now and it’s not their fault,” she comments. “I always wanted to be an example and this is what I was given the gift to do.”

For more information on Andrea, visit her website at

Follow Andrea on Twitter at @DreaKelly


*Photo Credits: Top Right & Homepage, Derek Blanks; Bottom Left, Walter Cantu

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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Follow her on Twitter: @ibakare