Drea Kelly is adamant on getting all that she feels is owed to her from her ex-husband and troubled singer R. Kelly. Their marriage may be over, but she is still healing from being Mrs. R. Kelly (a past that she would love to put far behind her), and his troubles are FAR from over.
The story begins in 1996 when Drea, born Andrea Lee in Chicago, met and auditioned for the “Bump N’ Grind” singer. According to Rolling Stone, the then 19-year-old secured the gig as R. Kelly’s backup dancer and was whisked away on tour with the singer. Soon, she was told not to speak to anyone else while on his tour, the magazine reports. Drea also gave her account in the very detailed Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
The couple wed in a surprise wedding ceremony, which she says he arranged entirely. Their marriage produced three children. Throughout their marriage, she was instrumental in choreographing multiple routines and danced for his tours, from their very first outing on the “12 Play Tour” to numerous others, as well as some notable award show performances. Drea, or “Baby Girl” as he would sometimes call her according to Essence, also danced in the “Happy People,” “Thoia Thoing,” and “You Remind Me of Something” music videos.
Their marriage would soon turn sour, however. Allegations would begin to pour in concerning her then husband and the controversy spread worldwide. In 2005, Drea filed an order of protection after claiming that the singer became enraged and struck her after she informed him that she wanted a divorce. They would eventually file for divorce in 2006, with it being finalized in 2009.
Drea Kelly shared with Essence at the time that while she knows the public would believe her reasoning for filing were due to the heaping allegations against her ex-husband, she explained that it was not so. Rather, Drea revealed that the couple simply grew apart.
“I have to take responsibility for myself,” explained Drea. “I don’t want to sit here and act as if I have some halo over my head. A person has to ask, ‘How much did I allow?’ But I’ll tell you, whatever happens to us, I will love that man to the day I die.”
Years later while the singer was still doing shows and appearances and still receiving severe backlash, Drea seemed to share support for her ex. A 2012 interview with HipHollywood revealed they were keeping it “cordial” for the sake of their three children, and that she was supportive of him going on the road to keep his finances intact. “He goin’ on tour? Get the tickets,” she told them. “I’mma need you to buy a t-shirt. Matter of fact go twice … I’m very clear, when he’s good, his kids are good!”
Her story and sentiments would change, however, as she soon began to share to the world that she was a victim of abuse by his hands. She would appear on various media outlets to share her story, and also on the Lifetime documentary, where she gave details of never before told instances of violence during their marriage.
During this time, Kelly wound up jailed for the investigations that were opened stemming from newly risen accusations. The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer was also placed behind bars for back child support amounting to more than $160k among other financial obligations toward his ex-wife and children. R. Kelly would claim that Drea was hindering his opportunity to make money and that his well was running dry thanks to the severe backlash stemming from the damning accusations.
At a time where his shows were very few, far, and in between, he would still be booked and given a nice check for a simple appearance. TMZ broke the news that R. Kelly had a paid appearance at an Illinois nightclub where he was paid $22K. Immediate backlash surrounded the appearance, although there were quite a few fans who were excited to attend.
According to TMZ, Drea shared that it shouldn’t really be looked down upon for her ex to work in order to potentially provide for his children and responsibilities. “No one can be mad at him for that,” a rep for Drea told TMZ.
As it turns out, R. Kelly and Drea have been embroiled in child support drama for over a decade. Court documents revealed to the public by the Chicago Sun-Times show that the singer was ordered to pay monthly payments of $30k. Additionally, he was ordered to pay $10k per month in “maintenance” fees” which were to end in January 2019. However, they ended when she remarried briefly.
All in all, the Hollywood Exes reality star shared to Page Six that her marriage, although filled with wealth at one point, was not one that she would like to ever relive, nor would she wish the experience on anyone else.
“Money does not bring you happiness; it is a lonely place,” said Drea. “I still say, ‘I was married but I was never a wife,’ and I don’t want anyone [else to experience that] … especially the younger generation. At the end of the day, what you need to understand … is that when it’s over, they will let you know his damn money is his damn money and they leave with their money.”