Girlfriends star Reggie Hayes says he’s struggling to find work and currently battling congestive heart failure.
Twenty years ago, the hit sitcom graced our screens, making us fall in love with four Black women, Tracee Ellis Ross (Joan), Golden Brooks (Maya), Jill Marie Jones (Toni), and Persia White (Lynn). The four ladies were also accompanied by their male friend “William” who was played by Reggie Hayes. The series ran from 2000 to 2008, and since then, the cast has gone on to do amazing things. But today, Hayes says finding acting work has been a struggle, and he’s currently battling congestive heart failure, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Hayes was admitted into a hospital on Friday, explaining that he isn’t sure what other health issues he may be dealing with. “We’re still not sure what’s going on, I gotta take more tests,” said Hayes. “But I have congestive heart failure, and it was difficult to breathe. Here in L.A., the sky has been orange with smoke (because of wildfires), and it was just really terrible. So I was in the hospital overnight; they were having trouble getting my blood pressure back down. Seems like the more they look, the more problems they find. The good thing is, I don’t have the coronavirus.”
Aside from his health concerns, the actor says sealing the deal on work has been a struggle ever since “Girlfriends” ended. “It’s not my most proud time,” he said” “I had starred on this long-running show, but I wasn’t Matt LeBlanc or one of the other kids from ‘Friends’ who had doors opening for them after their show ended. Pretty much, I was just another guy.” Following the show’s last airing, there was talk that Haye’s character would get a spinoff. But, nothing ever came of it. “I was getting a lot of winks and nods about that, and it just didn’t work out,” he said.
Hayes said he did what he could with the money he had from “Girlfriends.” The actor said he had to downsize from a larger home to a bungalow and eventually ended up moving into his sister’s garage. “I had started a complete rebuild on my house, and all of a sudden, I didn’t have a job. But the house was on an amazing piece of land, and I was able to sell it and break even. So I moved from a house on the hill down to a little bungalow in a sketchy area, and people would come by: ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ Those were pretty awful years. I made it work with my little residual checks for a year, and then I ended up moving into my sister’s garage for six years.”
From time to time, Hayes said he would book guest roles, “but it wasn’t really enough to get by. It’s hard; you can’t even get a day job because people come in and take pictures of you and put it on the internet.” He said he would get attention, but only from people who recognized him from the show. “I tried being a bouncer for a while, and everyone in the club wanted their picture taken with me, I’m 6′2,” but everybody knows I’m like a mouse; once you know me, you know I’m a pushover. So that didn’t work out. I also tried being a furniture mover, but I was in my 40s, so that only lasted a couple of days. My back never would have survived it,” said Hayes.
While things have been hard, Hayes says it’s nice that “Girlfriends” is being celebrated again. “And with ‘Girlfriends’ on Netflix and everybody talking about it again, it’s a really nice warm feeling,” Hayes said. Reflecting on his character William, Hayes said it was a role that changed his entire life. “I was desperate for that job. I didn’t have next month’s rent, and I owed a couple thousand dollars on my American Express card. I was scared to death. I was in very, very bad shape. And this job came and rescued me and turned everything around. William was described as a straightforward, educated guy, and I remember I was like, ‘That’s me!’ And luckily I had gone out and bought a suit — my dad said I should always have a suit in case someone died, so I had spent my last money on this suit — and I was looking really good when I came in for the audition.” He added that rewatching “Girlfriends” makes him look back at himself. “I couldn’t watch myself on the show when I was on it; I think I had only watched 10 episodes when it ended. Your weight goes up and down, or you don’t have your contact lenses in one day, your eye goes kind of wonky — it’s just hard to watch. But now I look back on it, and it’s a love affair,” he said.
As a whole, Hayes says the entire experience was life-changing. “But it was such a blessing. It really changed my life. Of all the parts I could have played on T.V., I think that was the best job I could have gotten,”
He said. “Looking back, I’m pretty proud of myself.”