|Intro||American singer, actress and television personality|
|Is||Musician Singer Television personality Actor Television actor Film actor Composer Businessperson|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Business Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music|
|Birth||10 July 1969, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA|
|Residence||Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA|
Erika Nay Girardi (née Chahoy; born July 10, 1971), known professionally as Erika Jayne, is an American singer, actress and television personality. Her debut single "Roller Coaster" topped the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in 2007. She has attained nine number-one songs on the Dance Club Songs chart as of 2018. In 2016, Billboard ranked her number 42 on their list of greatest dance club artists of all time and number 3 on their list of the Next Big Sound.
Girardi launched her film and television career as an actress in the early 1990s, playing small roles on Law & Order and High Incident. In 2015, Girardi became a full-time cast member on the sixth season of the reality television series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, followed by her role on the competition series Dancing with the Stars in 2017. She has played a recurring role as real estate agent Farrah Dubose on the American television soap opera The Young and the Restless. She made her Broadway debut in Chicago as Roxie Hart on January 6, 2020.
Life and career
1971–1998: Early life and career beginnings
Erika Girardi was born in Atlanta, Georgia on July 10, 1971, to a single mother, Renee Chahoy. Her mother, a fellow actress and a classically trained pianist, was only 18 when she gave birth to Girardi. Her parents broke up before her first birthday. Describing her childhood in her book Pretty Mess, Girardi states that her mother was "short with me, hard on me, and irritable. She would snatch my ponytail, dig her nails into my arm, and step on my feet. And that was in public." Girardi was later adopted by her mother's new partner, and they were married and divorced twice. In the middle of the marriages, her stepfather legally adopted her, but cut off contact after the second divorce from her mother. Girardi met her biological father for the first time at the age of 25 and compared it to "meeting a stranger". Girardi has revealed that she has seen her biological father only twice after their first meeting, saying "he had never, ever acknowledged my existence, to anyone, and obviously to himself, as well." Girardi has said that her tough upbringing made her grow up quickly and taught her to be self-reliant. She had a close relationship with her grandparents, Hollis and Ann Peek. Girardi's grandfather whom she called "the only father I've ever known", died in July 2010 at the age of 81. Her grandmother died of Alzheimer's disease in November 2014 at the age of 86. “My grandmother and I used to speak on the phone for an hour every day about nothing. When those phone calls stopped, that was the hardest. Because I knew she could no longer communicate. I had always gotten such strength and such love from those phone calls and when they stopped, it was a real marker of, ‘This is over, Erika. The woman that you know is no longer,” she said in an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
—Girardi, on her background
Girardi graduated from North Atlanta High School. She enrolled in a magnet program for the performing arts in high school, saying, "That’s where you really learned to love the stage and really hone your early performing skills. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world." She joined musical theater in high school, playing roles such as Val from A Chorus Line and Frastrada in Pippin. She toured the world in the school revue show where she performed "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton and "Into The Groove" by Madonna. Her first jobs in the entertainment industry included doing modelling and local commercials as a child. At 18, she moved to New York City. She performed as a member of several girl groups while living in New York, including recording songs with The Flirts and performing with I-Dolls. During this time she met Italian Thomas Zizzo, when he was working as a DJ at a club in Manhattan. The couple got married in December 1991 at St. Patrick's Cathedral. She described the wedding as "big, obnoxious, and pink." Soon after she gave birth to a son, Thomas Zizzo, Jr. After the couple divorced a few years later, she relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a singer and performer.
Early in her career, Girardi worked as a waitress to support herself between acting jobs. Girardi began her acting career in the early 1990s by appearing in small roles in several American television series and films. Her first on-screen appearance was a role as Suzanne Morton in the episode "Prescription for Death" of NBC's legal drama series Law & Order. She played the first-ever person to die on the show. In 1991, she made her second appearance on the show in the episode "Violence of Summer". She also had roles in independent films Alchemy (1995) and Lowball (1996). She appeared as Kitty in Alchemy, playing a woman who befriends her former partner's ex-wife after his death. She portrayed a struggling single mother, Kate in the action film Lowball alongside Erik Schrody and Luis Moro. In 1997, Girardi appeared as Cindy Butterworth in an episode of the police drama series High Incident.
1999–2016: Debut album and television projects
In January 1999, she married attorney Thomas Girardi, a founding partner of Girardi & Keese in downtown Los Angeles. She has discussed spending her early 30s focusing on her life with her husband, saying: "My husband is a lawyer, and I lived a lawyer's wife's life. I was with him all the time. And then, I finally said, 'You know what? I need to go back and perform and do what I love for me,' and that's how Erika Jayne was born." Girardi has called this period of her life "great legal education". "I sat in so many meetings, dinners, and talks with the very best legal minds. I went to the U.S. Supreme Court to watch a session. We would go to the Senate to meet people and talk to them on an intimate level. This was not the kind of meet and greet where you shake a politician’s hand and get a picture with him. No, we would have dinner with the mayor and his wife, and we’d listen to what he thinks about the city’s homeless problem. We would have drinks with a U.S. senator, and she’d confide in us the problems the senators were having with the current administration. These were some great experiences," Girardi shared in her memoir, Pretty Mess.
Staying true to her love of music, Jayne's first dance music single "Roller Coaster" was released on January 1, 2007. The song placed at number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Her second single “Stars” also placed at number one the Billboard Dance Play chart and music video for the song spent 12 weeks (peaking at number 2) on Logo TV’s The Click List: Top 10 Videos. In 2007, British newspaper The Guardian wrote that Erika Jayne “is Madonna trapped in the moment when she recorded the Erotica album. She’s Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge goes trance with a dash of debauchery, or Gwen Stefani goes burlesque.” Jayne's debut full-length album Pretty Mess, was released in the United States on August 11, 2009. Sheila E. is found playing percussion on the song, “Time to Realize” and the album includes a cover of Apollonia 6’s 1984 hit “Sex Shooter.” Peter Rafelson and Eric Kupper served as producers and co-writers on Pretty Mess, while Canadian singer-songwriter Esthero, Jahi Lake and Ike Dirty contributed additional production. The other singles from the album were "Give You Everything" and "Pretty Mess". The album spawned a total of four number-one singles on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. She released three different music video versions of "Give You Everything". The music videos were directed by feature film director Marty Thomas. Remixes of "Give You Everything" placed at number 2 on the Music Week Upfront Club Chart as well as number 6 on the Music Week Commercial Pop Club Chart, marking her first time to land on the United Kingdom charts. Jayne supported the release of Pretty Mess with tour dates and appearances at festivals and clubs across the United States. In November 2010, Jayne announced the creation of her own record label, Pretty Mess Records.
Her next releases, "One Hot Pleasure" and "Party People (Ignite the World)", also reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. "Party People (Ignite the World)" was written and produced by Swedish producers Andreas Carisson and Niclas Kings. The dance-driven music video for the single was directed and choreographed by Mikey Minden. "Party People (Ignite the World)" marked her sixth number-one single on US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. That achievement landed her on a billboard on PR Newswire’s building in Times Square and on the advertisement cover in Billboard’s February 11, 2012 issue. In 2012, "All Things Aside", was featured in the comedy film The Watch starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Her music has been featured in several films, including, The Neighbor (2007), Deal (2008), Hit and Run (2009), American Summer (2011) and High Society (2017).
In 2013, she released a single featuring American rapper Flo Rida, "Get it Tonight". "Get It Tonight" reached number 13 on the Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs chart. The single was released through a joint venture with Pretty Mess Records and New Nation Live label, distributed by Universal Music Group. Marenah Dobin of Bustle called "Get It Tonight" the "perfect party song." In September 2014, Jayne achieved her seventh number one dance single with "PAINKILLR". The Scott Storch-produced single "Crazy", featuring Maino was released on February 15, 2015. A music video for the song features Jayne dancing in an underground club with an entourage of dancers. Jayne released her new single "How Many Fucks" on April 19, 2016. After its release, "How Many Fucks" received generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics. In a highly positive review, Julia Brucculieri of The Huffington Post praised both the track and its corresponding video for being catchy and sexy. Jordan Miller of BreatheHeavy gave the song a favorable review, saying the song is "a blazing gay anthem." Jayne was named the third "Next Big Sound" by Billboard in early 2016.
In 2015, she joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for the show's sixth season. She soon became a fan favorite on the show and her appearance was well-received by the public. In July 2016, she appeared as Tech Frances in the science fiction television film Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. In October 2016, Jayne appeared on the Animal Planet series Tanked, in the episode "Real Aquariums of Beverly Hills". In the episode, she requested an aquarium that has room for an octopus. On November 7, 2016, Entertainment Weekly broke news that Jayne would guest-star on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless, as Farrah Dubose, and would share scenes with her Real Housewives co-star, Eileen Davidson.
2017–2018: Memoir and The Pretty Mess Tour
Jayne performed her new single "XXpen$ive" for the first time on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on January 4, 2017. Music video for the single was officially released on February 15, 2017. She described the song as "over-the-top, fabulous and fun.” Lyrically, it talks about materialism and entertainment. In May 2017, the song was featured on an episode of Saturday Night Live as Chris Pine and Bobby Moynihan held a lip sync battle to the song. On March 1, 2017, Jayne was revealed as one of the contestants who would compete on season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with professional dancer Gleb Savchenko who had been previously partnered with Jayne's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star, Lisa Vanderpump when she competed in Season 16. They were the fourth couple eliminated from the competition, finishing 9th place. Jayne was hospitalized after she sustained a shoulder injury during her run on Dancing with the Stars. She had a surgical procedure for an upper body tear in May 2017. In July 2017, Jayne announced her partnership with make up brand BeautyBlender. "The Beautyblender Swirl" starring Erika Jayne became available at Sephora on July 8, 2017. The following August, it was announced by media outlets, that she is collaborating with Too Faced Cosmetics, potentially on new products. She starred in Too Faced's "Better Than Sex Mascara" campaign in late 2017.
In January 2018, she appeared in a Christina Aguilera-themed episode on Lip Sync Battle competing against Taye Diggs. She performed Aguilera's famous hits "Fighter" and "Genie In a Bottle". She has also previously performed at Aguilera's 36th birthday party in December 2016. On March 5, 2018, she appeared as a guest co-host on FOX's Dish Nation. In early 2018 she released a memoir with Brian Moylan, Pretty Mess, with color photos and personal stories. “I hope my intimate story can inspire readers to become their own strong, confident and vibrant pretty messes," she said in the book's press release. The book was ninth on The New York Times Best Seller list and fifth on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List. In March 2018, she appeared in a Vogue-feature and a short film after spending one day working for the fashion magazine. Her single, "Cars" was released on April 10, 2018. The song interpolates the chorus of L'Trimm's famous single "Cars With the Boom" (1988). Upon its release, "Cars" has received mostly favorable reception from music critics, who noted the song as significantly different from her previous releases. Despite the song's popularity among fans, "Cars" still did not manage to make an impact on the charts.
In May 2018, it was announced that she would reprise her role as real estate agent Farrah Dubose on The Young and the Restless for a two-episode guest stint. After media speculation, Girardi confirmed she is returning for the ninth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Jessi Roti of Chicago Tribune wrote in late 2018 that "Jayne has become one of top reasons to tune in every week. Not just for the drama, but for the authenticity she added to the high gloss of the show with her fast-and-hard truths and keen self-awareness, and to catch a glimpse at what’s next for the performer, who was already established in the world of dance music." She hosted the Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet Live alongside AJ Gibson on May 20, 2018. The following August, she announced her collaboration with ShoeDazzle, an online shoe and accessories website. ShoeDazzle's commercial campaign features Jayne and her single "Xxpen$ive". She teamed up with ShoeDazzle as their latest “muse” and shared her 14 must-have favorite shoe styles for fall 2018. Customers will get to see her favorite shoe styles with a new collection each month. "I’ve been looking for the perfect partner to help me invite my fans to step into my closet, and my collaboration with ShoeDazzle affords my fans the chance to do just that," Jayne said in the press release. She also announced her plans to design her own line for the brand in 2019.
In September 2018, she was a featured speaker at TedxPasadena and gave a TED speech on transforming the future and putting words to action. Her speech was titled "My Unapologetic Alter Ego: Living Life as an Exaggerated Figment of People's Imaginations". She made a guest appearance on an episode of BET's sports drama television series Hit the Floor, in the episode "Hot Streak." She portrayed a media mogul called Beverly. In 2018, Erika Jayne appeared on various television shows to promote her music and book, including The View, The Wendy Williams Show, Larry King Now, Megyn Kelly Today, Steve and Kandi Koated Nights. In September 2018, she was as a guest editor for Fashion Week at E!. In late 2018, she will produce a series of concerts at several venues, titled Erika Jayne Presents: The Pretty Mess Tour. The concert tour begins on September 28 and ends on December 21, 2018. In October 2018, Jayne performed her single "Xxpen$ive" on The View in honor of her friend Meghan McCain's birthday. Michael Love Michael of Paper magazine wrote that Jayne was "wearing a sparkling leotard situation that we could just as easily picture on Britney Spears during her Piece of Me residency."
2019–present: Beauty collaborations and Broadway
She designed a makeup collection for Too Faced Cosmetics, released on February 12, 2019. The collection consisted of a 12-shade eye shadow palette, a body shimmer, a highlighter, two color and gloss lip kits, and a lip plumper. In March 2019, she launched a shoe collection for ShoeDazzle, divided into two collections titled Erika Girardi and Erika Jayne. Jayne released a second shoe collection for ShoeDazzle on September 6, 2019. Jayne was featured on rapper Brooke Candy's new single titled "Drip". The pair performed "Drip" at the VFiles fashion show at New York Fashion Week. Paper magazine described the single as "is an in-your-face femme power anthem that combines both stars' styles into a singular, sweat-slicked bop. It's a little of vintage Brooke Candy attitude, a little Erika Jayne-branded bondage, and a whole lot of sex appeal." In September 2019, she walked the runway for Kyle Richards' and Shahida Clayton's new women's clothing brand at New York Fashion Week.
On September 25, 2019, Erika Jayne announced that she is playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago on Broadway. Her performances were originally set to run from January 6 to March 29, 2020. On March 12, 2020, she announced that her Broadway production has ended weeks early due to Coronavirus shutdown. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin announced that all Broadway performances have been canceled until April 12, 2020 due to concerns about the Coronavirus.
Fashion has also been a part of Jayne's music career and image. She has frequently worn clothes designed by Gucci, Moschino, Versace, Balmain, and Alexander McQueen. Tyler McCall of Fashionista.com called her "debatably the most stylish cast member of any Real Housewives franchise." In 2018, she was the first star of The Real Housewives media franchise to attend the CFDA Fashion Awards and was placed on several "best-dressed lists" after her appearance on the award show. Jayne wore a Tom Ford tuxedo with a Vera Wang dress shirt at the CFDA Fashion Awards. Her stylist Dani Michelle counts Jayne's outfit as one of her standouts. “I am not sure why it stays so close to my heart, but I think its because it was the perfect mix of strength, French fashion and unique Erika Jayne as one of the only women in suiting,” Michelle told Page Six. She has appeared on several magazine editorials, including Paper, Flaunt, V, People, Life & Style, CR Fashion Book and front covers of Billboard, Pasadena, CVLUX, Genlux, Celebrity Page. Jayne names Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe as her style icons. She has also discussed how her mother and grandmother have been a continuing inspiration to her.
In 2016, Forbes' Seamus Kirst wrote an article about how being on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has benefitted Jayne's music career. Since joining the show, Jayne said she has gained nearly 200,000 more Instagram followers and over 30,000 more followers on Twitter. Kirst stated that "this rise in visibility on social media is financially lucrative for the performing artist. Jayne is popular on social media and endorses products such as beauty and wellness products on Instagram. She has partnered with several brands, including FabFitFun beauty subscription box, Ketel One liquor, Teami Blends teas, Svedka Vodka liquor, DIFF Eyewear sunglasses and Freixenet wine.
Jayne was parodied in the "New Wife" sketch by Cecily Strong on the late-night show Saturday Night Live aired on November 4, 2017. In December 2017, Kim Kardashian's mobile game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood added Jayne as a new virtual character as a part of a special quest for players. Players who pass the seventh level of the game can now choose to become Erika Jayne and perform a club hit in one of her outfits. "It's surreal.There I am, little Erika Jayne, walking and talking. It's incredible and I'm very thankful, so thank you, Kim," Jayne told The Daily Dish. In 2017, she also began co-hosting various television programs, including red carpet awards show coverages and specials.
—Girardi, on her influences
The New York Post called her "the self-proclaimed showgirl of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." She created an alter ego, "Erika Jayne" when performing on stage. She has described her alter ego by saying: "Erika Jayne is 100 percent me. She’s obviously a stage persona — a larger-than-life, over-the-top stage persona — but she’s still, at her heart, me. I think there’s a little bit of a showman in all of us, and it’s just a matter of whether or not you bring that out of yourself or allow it to show itself." Jayne's stage performances and travels have also been created into a book by photographer Marco Bollinger. Jayne has received praise for her stage presence and routines during live performances. Following her appearance on Dancing with the Stars, Girardi was the center of criticism for being too risque. "I know the salsa's sort of a sexy type of dance. For me, it was a little bit too raunchy, but I'm what I am," Dancing with the Stars judge Len Goodman told Girardi. Other judges, including Julianne Hough praised the performance, saying it was a good thing for Erika to encourage women to see themselves as sexual beings. "I felt [the critiques] were more personal than it was technical," Girardi later said on Jenny McCarthy's SiriusXM show.
Jayne supports the LGBTQ community. She was named "News Ally Entertainer of 2015" at the LGBT Ally Awards in recognition of her ongoing support for the rights and equality of LGBTQ people around the world. She often performs at LGBTQ events and festivals, including pride parades in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Toronto, New York and Long Beach. In 2017, she was the headliner for the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards after-party. Jayne was the host of "Pride Month Conversation" with author Ross Mathews on June 28, 2017 in California. In June 2018, Billboard published her "love letter" to the LGBTQ community in celebration of the Pride Month. In the letter she thanked the community for coming to her concerts, supporting her television career and making her feel free and empowered.
Girardi and her husband are philanthropists and together they contribute to their community with frequent charitable donations. In 2015, she participated in protest march against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, where hundreds of supporters marched towards the Chinese Consulate. The protest march was organized by her The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star Lisa Vanderpump and Girardi described the march as her "favorite charity event." She participated in a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity via a SoulCycle class hosted by Mauricio Umansky's real estate firm The Agency in 2016. She described the event by saying: "It was a great way to stay fit and raise money for a good cause. I’m glad it was a success. I would do it again anytime." She has worked in a project with Giveback Homes and Habitat for Humanity to help paint houses. In 2017, she volunteered at non-profit organization Project Angel Food and participated in Camille Grammer's Perfume for Cancer fundraiser. Girardi participated in an event geared towards female empowerment called "Girl Cult Festival" in Los Angeles on August 20, 2017. She was a motivational speaker at the event and shared tips for becoming successful.
Girardi hosted the third annual "Run to Remember — Los Angeles" in honor of fallen police officers and first responders at The Grove on April 8, 2018. The event raised funds to serve families of those who have fallen, as well as supporting a variety of community programs such as police mentorships, education and scholarships for youth, equipment for local police and fire departments, at-risk-youth programs and veteran support. In October 2018, Girardi sold 16 different items from her wardrobe on eBay, including dresses seen on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards. Ten percent of sales supported the LGBTQ charity GLAAD.
|2007||"Roller Coaster"||1||—||—||Pretty Mess|
|2009||"Give You Everything"||1||—||16|
|"One Hot Pleasure"||1||—||24||Non-album singles|
|2011||"Party People (Ignite the World)"||1||—||25|
|2013||"Get It Tonight"||—||20||—|
|"You Make Me Wanna Dance"||—||—||—|
|2016||"How Many Fucks"||1||—||—|
|"—" denotes a title that did not appear on the respective chart.|
Billboard's Global Dance Tracks ranking was discontinued in 2013.
|2009||"Just a Phase" (Retro Version)||The Neighbor||RM Records|
|"I Lose Myself" (Chill Version)|
|2007||"Roller Coaster"||Peter Rafelson|
|2009||"Give You Everything"||N/A|
|"Give You Everything" (Moto Blanco Extended World Club Jam)||Marty Thomas|
|2010||"Pretty Mess"||Mike Ruiz
|"One Hot Pleasure"|
|2011||"Party People (Ignite the World)"||Mikey Minden|
|2013||"Get It Tonight"||Steven Johnson|
|"You Make Me Wanna Dance"|
|2016||"How Many Fucks"|
|2019||"Drip"||Brooke Candy & Angelo Kritikos|
- The Pretty Mess Tour (2018)
- Jayne, Erika. Pretty Mess. New York: Gallery Books, 2018. ISBN 1501181890.
Awards and nominations
|2015||LGBT Ally Awards||News Ally Entertainer||Won|
|2016||Billboard||United States||100 Greatest of All Time Top Dance Club Artists||42|
|2016||Billboard||United States||Next Big Sound||3|