June month presents a special time to appreciate Black music.
President Jimmy Carter declared Black Music Month in 1979. While the sixth month of the year usually sheds a light on the artist, we went a little deeper and looked at the melanin queens that made history though musical visuals.
We’re kicking it off with none other than Ola Ray from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The mini-movie is a cultural classic and the first of its kind to be directed by a Hollywood movie director, John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House). Not to mention it also cost half a million dollars to make, an unspeakable number in 80s. The 13-minute project is known for more than Jackson’s signature red jacket, dancing zombies, and his gorgeous but scared arm candy. Her name is Ola Ray.
Ray’s curly mane, red lips, and denim on denim set with a striking red top and heels are iconic in its own right.
The now 58-year old actress was a former Playmate in the 1980 June issue and while she had the looks to be Jackson’s front-woman, her risqué past almost cost her the gig.
“I auditioned a lot of girls and this girl Ola Ray — first of all, she was crazy for Michael,”such a great smile. I didn’t know she was a Playmate,” reported Vanity Fair in 2010.
However, Jackson reportedly took a real liking to her.
“He seemed taken by the fact that I was a Playboy model,” Ray told the Sunday Mirror in 2012.
Landis said Jackson was fine with her: “I said, ‘Michael, she’s a Playmate, but so what? She’s not a Playmate in this.’ He went, ‘O.K., whatever you want.’ I have to tell you, I got along great with Michael.
We’re so glad he did. Ray and Jackson truly light up the screen in the 13-minute long video. Between her sweet smile, stylish threads, and her famous shriek, Ray’s was and always will be an integral part of what is one of the most iconic music videos — if not the most — of all time.
For that alone, we honor you Ola Ray as the first Black Music Month Video Vixen Spotlight.