“Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear”. Something I used to hear my mother say all the time, rang true to me recently when I had the chance to sit down with the infamous Dance Mom “Black Patsy”, who to friends and family in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri is known simply as Kaya (Morris_Wiley). I will be the first to admit, it took me a while to warm up to the stage mom from my city of residence, due widely in part to her portrayal as the “ghetto black woman” on Lifetime’s hit series “Dance Moms” in her first few appearances on the show.Typically she is not someone you want to identify with, but not wanting to judge sight unseen (or unspoken if you will) I reached out to Kaya Morris-Wiley to get the real story behind her “crazed” dance mom persona.
Brendolyn Marie: “Kaya, first of all thank you for speaking with me and agreeing to this interview. Let’s get right into it. The name Black Patsy is very unique, where did it name come from?”
Kaya Morris-Wiley: “Do you remember Patsy Ramsey, the pageant mom who was suspected of killing her daughter many years ago? Google it. Anyway, my mom thinks that I’m somewhat obsessive about Nicaya’s dancing career. You have to SEE me at a dance competition to understand how serious it is! So my mom started calling me Patsy because I’m a crazy stage mom! When we were at Nicaya’s old studio, there were LOTS of crazy stage moms. To distinguish myself from the others, I became Black Patsy (we had White Patsy, Asian Patsy, etc). The producers at Lifetime just took that nickname and ran with it. I actually HATE it but they won’t stop using it.”
BM: “You are depicted on the show as “ghetto” and “uneducated” (through the wonderful tool of editing). What are your feelings towards the way you are percieved by viewers?”
KM: “The way the show portrays me is the main reason I hesitate and have anxiety attacks every time I’m called back. I know that I may have created the whole “hood” persona by making that comment on my 2nd episode “I ain’t none of Dr Holly. I’m from the HOOD, I’ll f#ck you up! Believe dat” Yes, I was born in the projects of East St Louis. Yes, I will GET hood on you (that’s something only another sista will understand). But I’m not GHETTO! There is a difference. Ghetto (in the way the term is commonly used, not the Webster definition) is a mentality, a way of living. There is nothing GHETTO about me. The way I talk, my East Side dialect, is often mistaken as a sign of me being uneducated when you hear someone like Dr. Holly speak. That’s as wrong as assuming that everyone from New Orleans is ghetto & uneducated. Have you heard THEM speak? My dialect is in no way a reflection of how educated or intelligent I am! When I first saw the “ghetto Patsy” comments all over Twitter I cried. My children were hurt. My mom was disappointed. They all KNOW how hard I worked to raise 4 children as a single mom, work 2 jobs and earn my college degree WITH HONORS! I could upload pics of the letters from every semester that I made the Dean’s list and post my address to prove that I live in an affluent area of West County (no where near the ghetto), and tell how my children have always attended either private or Gold Star rated schools….but I’d still be ghetto to the white viewers who only like the Black women who look & sound like them (Like Dr Holly). Honey, I say the word “ain’t” and I have locs in this nappy hair of mine…but I’m STILL educated and intelligent AIN’T I?!”
BM: “Speaking of Dr. Holly Thatcher, being the only other African-American mom on the show, people tend to compare the two of you. How do you feel about that comparison?”
KM: “Really? I never knew anyone compared us except for the one episode where I wore a straight wig! I honestly don’t think we have anything in common aside from being Dance Moms. I’m sure she’d agree.”
BM: “Let’s talk a little bit about Nicaya, after all she is the reason you are a dance mom. She first began dancing with the Abby Lee Dance Company, and has now transitioned to Candy Apples Dance Company . Despite your problems be between yourself and Abby, would you prefer her to be a member of the ALDC?”
KM: “Absolutely not! CADC can lose to ALDC for the next 10 years and I wouldn’t regret being there. The only reason ALDC beats CADC is because they’ve been dancing together much longer. They’ve built this dynamic team and know each other’s strengths. They are always in-sync. And they always do the same damn dance steps, set to different music! Cathy & her assistant choreographers give our kids challenging choreography. CADC has amazing dancers but we haven’t been together long enough to mesh as a team. But give us a minute…we’ll be sending ALDC running out of competitions with their tails between their legs in no time! I also love & respect Cathy as a woman, mother, teacher and business owner. She genuinely cares about the TV CADC team as much as she cares about her real Candy Apples. Despite the way she appears on the show, she is so funny, loving and compassionate! She knows how to turn it on for TV and how to be genuine when the cameras turn off. Abby, on the other hand, is even nastier in person as she is on TV! She’s an arrogant, rude, bitch who has let her celebrity status go to her head. It’s sickening! She wasn’t like that when we first met her, but the more shows she filmed, the more fans she got, the more money she made….the BIGGER her ego got! The moms on her own team can’t stand her either.”
WOW! As you can imagine speaking with Kaya was more than an earful full of realness and fun. I could not stop laughing. The fun did not stop here, we spoke a little longer about how life for this mother of four has changed since appearing on the show. Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Kaya.