Founding Destiny’s Child LeToya Luckett talks Christmas with Jalen Rose

LeToya Luckett is an original member of Destiny’s Child and a proud product of Houston. And though she will rattle off a list of her favorite spots (the Breakfast Klub, Turkey Leg Hut and Burns Original BBQ), she didn’t have the typical Houston upbringing.

“My friends were out in the mall, at the movies, and homecoming and proms and stuff. Like we didn’t really get to experience a normal childhood,” she told me on this week’s episode of “Renaissance Man.”

Instead, “we spent that time in rehearsal watching documentaries on our favorite artists, watching performances of Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan. That’s how we spend our time. Just like y’all [athletes] watch tape. We will watch tape. So, I almost felt like they were grooming us like athletes. Like we were doing workouts.”

They also went on tour with legends like Boyz II Men.

LeToya said, “We just learned so much through the experience watching them every night. I mean, seriously, who gets better than Boyz II Men. To share the stage with them was mind-blowing.”

And even when they were hitting the big time and becoming superstars, LeToya said they barely knew it, nor did they take time to spike the ball and celebrate. They just kept working toward their dream. Let’s be honest, the girls who she came up with — Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland — were not overnight successes.

“And I feel like that was probably a good thing with us being so young, so that we wouldn’t get distracted. We’d start feeling ourselves. Our parents were very involved, so I feel like keeping us grounded and keeping us focused on doing the work and continuing to grow as artists was probably the best thing for us,” she said, adding, “I don’t think people realize how much hard work, time, dedication, sacrifice and tears go into it.”

There was no microwave fame for LeToya and she’s been open about her struggles after she left the group in 2000. But hardship and hard work is why she has lasting power. Now a mother of two children, LeToya’s in two Christmas movies this year. The first is “The Great Holiday Bake War” on Own and she’s also starring alongside Romeo Miller in “A Miracle Before Christmas” premiering Dec. 23 on BET+.

LeToya Luckett
Luckett stars in two Christmas movies this holiday season.
Getty Images for BET

And, yes, it’s a Christmas movie and filled with all the usual Yuletide lessons. But it was also significant because at the end of filming, Romeo’s sister Tytyana Miller tragically passed away, devastating their family.

“This man lost his sister the last day of shooting,” she said of her co-star. “And he came. He finished and he left. And he continued his mourning. And I was like, ‘There’s no way I would have been able to get out of bed.’ He made it seem like ‘I don’t want to, you know, inconvenience anybody else. I know this is our last day of shooting.’ There would have to be a whole other shoot day or a week or something. The whole process would be a while. But he was like, ‘I finish what I start and I show up with a great attitude.’ And that just shows there’s just so much about him and I have a whole other respect for him after that.”

And since she’s slowly emerging as a Christmas-movie queen, I had to know her favorites. They include “Serendipity,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” “This Christmas” and, obviously, “Home Alone.”

But she notes: “We gotta make more urban holiday films.”

That led me to my next important question: Is “Trading Places” a Christmas movie?

“‘Trading Places’ is one of my all-time favorite movies,” LeToya said, “but you’re right. Because the scene where he opens up and he’s on his knees and he’s talking to the cop. It was definitely holiday season. That whole movie is based around holiday.”

So that settles it. LeToya has spoken: “Trading Places” is indeed a Christmas movie. And probably the filthiest Santa suit to ever appear on-screen to boot.

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive-produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.