DJ and co-host of “The Breakfast Club” Raashaun “DJ Envy” Casey and wife Gia Casey met up with Boardroom to discuss their new book, Real Life, Real Love.
Love is complicated.
It may be that few understand this better than Raashaun “DJ Envy” Casey and Gia Casey, his wife, who have been together since they meet as teenagers at their high school in Queens. For the last 27 years, they’ve remained together through the blossoming of their respective careers, the birth of their six children, and a very public cheating scandal.
Just about everything about their private lives has ended up on the table, and fans have naturally been curious about how they’ve persevered through it all. That’s precisely why they decided to write Real Life, Real Love, their debut book that was released on April 19.
When poking at the obvious question of “why now,” Gia is quick to identify what she most wants readers to take away from the book: “The ways in which after something devastating happens between two people, that you can regain that love, that trust and that beautiful place that you once were in.”
“Or not,” she continued, “because the person that you’re with may not be the right [one]. So, the book is meant to help you determine whether the person you’re with is for you for the long haul.”
“It’s a reference to help people out,” DJ Envy added. “A guide that people can talk and have conversations about, whether it’s good for their relationship or bad for their relationship.”
Now, more than a quarter-century into their relationship, they are stronger and more committed to each other than ever. It’s because they never shied away from their struggles, even amidst social media noise.
In Real Life, Real Love, Gia and Envy explore their relationship vulnerably and with searing honesty, humor, and refreshing frankness. It’s the kind of compelling story that finds a home with everyone, an aspirational guidebook for people who seek the same unconditional love in their relationships and an in-depth look at how to maintain equilibrium when everything around them constantly changes.
The following is DJ Envy and Gia Casey’s conversation with “Boardroom Book Club,” edited for length and clarity.
NATE LOUIS: Why did you decide to write this book now?
DJ ENVY: We’ve been together 27 years, married 21 — since she was 15 and I was 16 in high school. People always ask, “How do you keep the relationship spicy? How do y’all still like each other?”And so, we started a podcast to talk about some of the things that we go through, whether it’s ups, downs, positive, negative, and people wanted more. Then we decided to write a book. It’s a reference point to tell you the things to do and the things not to do. Of course, I was the sacrificial lamb of things not to do, but hopefully it can help people in their relationship.
NL: What’s the significance of the title, Real Life, Real Love?
GIA CASEY: Well, it is about our real life and our real love. Part of the problem in society today is that when you see someone in the public eye and your interpretation of them is based upon what they want you to see. It’s an image that they are intentionally portraying to be consumed by the masses. You don’t necessarily always get the real. You don’t always get an accurate account of what their life is really like. It’s kind of like a curated idea of what people want you to believe. For us, writing this book was about being transparent, vulnerable, very honest, and raw.
Once you read the book, you’ll see that there is no holding back. There’s nothing that we sugarcoat, or try to make seem a certain type of way. A question that we get more often than not is, “Are y’all really gonna put that in the book? Do you ever think that you’ve been too honest?” And the answer is no because when it comes to trying to create something tangible that can be helpful for people, you want to give it to them the [same] way that you got it. You don’t want to smudge over the truth.
NL: When did you and Gia first decide you’d write the book?
DJE: Two years ago, we first thought about it. We all do so much, and we have six kids, so she’s constantly between soccer, football, baseball, basketball, piano, swimming, snack sticks, acting, and [I’m busy] with real estate, DJing, “The Breakfast Club.” We didn’t have enough time until the pandemic hit, and then we had to sit home and do it. There was no more traveling, and that’s what we did. I would say 90% of the book was finished during the pandemic.
NL: You’ve been together for 27 years and married for 21 now, what are some of the things you’ve realized along the way just about growing up together over that long of a period of time?
DJE: I realize men are never right. [Laughs] We’re always wrong. Kidding, but I realize everything is communication, right? At first, I was a “right fighter.” And what a “right fighter” is — when you have an argument, you always want to be right, no matter what it takes. If me and you are arguing about the sky and you say, “Envy, the sky is blue,” and I’m like, “No, it’s yellow,” and you’re like, “Well, no, it’s not,” then I’ll be like, “But God told me it was yellow.”
GC: Lies and exaggerations is what he’s talking about!
DJE: Just a little bit, just a little bit. [Both laugh] But once you realize in the relationship, it shouldn’t be who wins or loses— it should be common ground. I was fighting her when we should be fighting the world. We should be coming together, and I didn’t understand that. I was just trying to win, and she was just trying to win. And sometimes it gets nasty, but when we get on the same page and we realize that we are trying to get to a common denominator, it makes the relationship ten times better. But it took some time to get there, of course. I’m not gonna say it got there overnight. It took, like, what, a year?
GC: More like 12 years.
DJE: Okay, maybe 12 years. [Laughs].
NL: Joy, pain, loyalty, and love all seem to be central themes in the book. How have you both been able to maintain that commitment to each other, especially being public figures in the entertainment industry?
DJE: For myself, it’s finding the true definition of love. When you talk about love, it’s easy for you to say, “I love my girl or my man.” But if you don’t know the true definition of love, can you honestly say you love someone? Do you still get butterflies when you talk about that person? If you love somebody, do you want to lie to them? Do you want to cheat on them? Do you want to cause things that hurt them? That’s not true love. I didn’t know what the definition was. We didn’t have those conversations, and hopefully, this book will open [that] up.
Similar to what I did with real estate: I started talking about it so people could start having more conversations about real estate and generational wealth. Look what Charlamagne has done with mental health. He’s opened up to [the point] where people can have those conversations. Some of the things that we talk about can open up the conversation when you’re in the barbershop. Not just the best NBA player and the new kicks that’s coming out. But, “Yo, my girl is bugging, she’s arguing about this.” And then somebody might be like, “Yo, my girl went through the same thing.” Now y’all can have that conversation, and it doesn’t feel awkward or strange.
GC: It’s not just about opening up the conversations. It’s also [about] normalizing what real life actually entails. Having problems with your partner is normal. Trying to present an image that things between us are perfect is worthless. There’s no sense of community there. If we don’t share our problems, if we don’t share our struggles, then we’re not as a community getting better. We’re not empowering each other. We’re not creating safe spaces to have these conversations where you can really divulge and tap into other people’s experiences and get help or advice. If everybody’s perfect, then nobody needs help, right?
NL: You address some tough issues you’ve had to deal with in the past. Was it hard to grapple with reliving those moments in the book?
DJE: In the book for myself, hell yeah, because I was usually the f-boy that did all the [bad] stuff. So I had to relive all the things that I did, whether it was being insecure, being a right fighter, or whatever it was. I had to relive how dirty I did my wife during those 21 years. I mean, we grew up with each other.
I always tell the story, you know, growing up I had glasses. I had braces. I was 5-foot-4. I had acne and I wasn’t fly at all. I couldn’t get a girl. So when I finally got a beautiful woman, this was my baby. I’m like, I can’t let go [of her], and I was so insecure. When she would go out, I’d be like, “Where are you going?” because I always thought that she would see somebody that’s better than me — better looking, smarter. But you have to grow out of those things and really understand yourself. But to answer your question, yes, it was difficult.
GC: I’m a very open and transparent person. Once I make up my mind about something, my mind is made up. Once I decided to forgive, it was a process, but I had to learn how to do it. I was able to stick a pin in it. I didn’t suffer from any remnants of what had happened. And it took years, to be clear. It wasn’t like a month or two or 12. Years. But once I did, we were embarking on a new, better life together. So to revisit those memories in detail, it wasn’t difficult for me at all.
NL: A quote that stuck out is, “The goal isn’t to have a relationship that looks good; it’s to have a relationship that, at its core, is good.” What does that “good” look like to you each?
GC: For us, it’s a relationship that’s rooted in honesty, love, fun, and faith. Our family mission statement between us and our six kids is about being very intentional with who we are as a family and who we are at our core. We sat down — and we encourage people to do the same — and we decided, Who do we wanna be seen as when people talk about us as a family? How do we want our family to feel? What are the goals that we have? What are our morals? What is important to us?
The fact that we represent each other when we leave the house, everything in our family, the eight of us, is one. We operate as a unit. If you get yourself into a problem, I’m going to help you get out of it.
NL: What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about how to keep things balanced when you’re raising a family and building a business together?
DJE: Making your family a part of your business — and what I mean by that is everybody’s involved. When I do my car shows, my daughter is running the merch store. When I do shows, it’s usually someplace nice, [and] the whole family comes and they get to enjoy it. We turn it into a vacation. My daughter comes to clubs with me. My son goes to concerts with me. My wife goes out with me. So it’s always a family environment. Even my little kids, they go to some of the real estate [events] that I go to. My daughter is in school now because of the positive example she’s been seeing. Those are the types of things that we do to make sure our family’s always together. Everybody sticks with each other.
NL: How did you allow yourselves to tap into the vulnerability necessary to tell this story as raw and honest as possible?
DJE: Well, I do “The Breakfast Club” every day. [Laughs] So, I’m pretty vulnerable. I’m an open book. I mean, I tell everybody all the time, “Nobody can ever use anything against me, and I don’t care what people feel about me.” I got my kids and my wife. Those are the only people I really care about. I don’t care about the social media comments. I don’t care about anything else. As long as my wife and my kids are happy, I’m happy.
GC: I’ve been trained to be vulnerable through our podcast, “The Casey Crew.” We talk about everything. Some of the most intimate moments between us, whether sexual or emotional, we discuss those things in the same sense of community that I was talking about before. So writing the book for me was just par for the course.
NL: Did your careers — for Envy as a DJ and radio personality, and Gia with the podcast — help you with the flow and narrative of the storyline in the book?
DJE: I think a little bit of that. And I think us doing a podcast helped as well. With me being [an] on-air personality, I know when to go in or to go out. I know when it’s too long or too short. With the podcast me and my wife do together, she knows the same, so it was fairly easy.
It wasn’t one of those times you read a book and it just feels like this is going on too long or there’s no point. With us, we know what people want to hear. It’s like what they say, if you put medicine in the candy… but with us, we’re gonna tell you a good story and we are explaining things, but we’re also gonna tell you how to get around those things, so hopefully, it doesn’t happen to you in your relationship.
GC: I could say it was easy to write the book because we’ve been through the highest highs and the lowest lows already. So from that perspective, we know what we would have wanted to read to help us navigate through those times. So that’s really what aided in the ebb and the flow of the writing process. When I was in this situation, what would I have needed to know to help me? We take our readers through that emotional journey to let them know what they’re feeling, even if it may not be good, it’s normal. It’s human nature.
Let me tell you what he might have to do. And let me tell him, too. Actually, hand him the book when you’re done. I’ll tell him what he might have to do to gain that love and respect back from you.
DJE: Good luck, fellas [Laughs].
NL: What do you hope people take away from the book?
GC: I want our readers to walk away with an influence to get closer to God, or whomever they call God. And if they don’t have a god, whatever in them serves as their moral compass. We want people to be more deliberate and intentional about family, their spouse, their children, what it takes to have a good family, and a good solid unit. There’s tips on raising good, well-mannered, polite children. We want the family unit to be very, very strong.
NL: The book is officially out. Any final takeways on living out this journey together and now giving Real Life, Real Love to the world?
DJE: I’m super excited for people to read it. I’m excited to go on the road and have conversations about the book. That’s the one thing I missed in the last two years with the pandemic. You miss touching [the] people. The book was actually supposed to come out last year for our 20th anniversary, and I’m glad it didn’t, because I like to look people in the eyes. Let ’em ask questions. And I think during that time we wouldn’t have had that. Now that it’s out, I’m excited for people to read and talk to people and do sexy, cool stuff, you know what I mean? Roller skating parties, brunches, and add the book into the equation.
GC: I’m dying to get the feedback from book clubs and things of that nature. I just want to know how the book is affecting lives because I think we share a lot in this book that a lot of other books don’t cover.