Azriel Clary Says Gayle King’s 2019 Interview Was a ‘Blessing’ In Disguise

In an interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings, Azriel Clary, one of the women who survived prolonged and continuous abuse by R. Kelly and previously defended the convicted sexual abuser, discussed the singer’s recent Brooklyn trial. She reflected on an earlier interview with King in 2019, citing it as a turning point in her decision to dissociate from Kelly for good.

“I feel like that interview was a blessing,” Clary told King of their 2019 conversation. “For five years, since I was 17, I didn’t have any relationship with any other woman except for the women that Kelly had been intimate with. And so when I did that interview with you, I instantly regretted immediately how I reacted.”

Clary admitted that the interview was an awakening of sorts. After she spoke to King in the interview, she thought to herself, “I used to be that poised, I used to be that calm, what happened to that girl? Where did it go?” She then realized her relationship with Kelly “wasn’t love,” as “love doesn’t hurt.”

“It kind of made me kind of wake up in a sense, and realize, ‘Why am I acting like this? Why am I putting myself through all of this misery? Why am I exploiting myself for a man who has me in this position in the first place, you know?’”

Kelly Coached Clary On What To Say

Clary was 21 years old when she first sat down with CBS News in 2019. She was still living with Kelly and another woman, Joycelyn Savage. They both vehemently defended Kelly and said they were his “girlfriends.” Both women claimed he was not abusive, but at the time of the interview, Kelly was nearby and made his presence known to the women.

She added that Kelly coached her and fellow Kelly-survivor Joycelyn Savage before that interview. He reportedly told them to “be angry and upset” before sitting down for the 2019 interview.

R. Kelly 'No one raised a finger' to stop R. Kelly jail beating, singer's lawyers sayR. Kelly 'No one raised a finger' to stop R. Kelly jail beating, singer's lawyers say
R. Kelly turns to exit during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court building, Sept. 17, 2019, in Chicago. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS) Newscom/(Mega Agency TagID: krtphotoslive894952.jpg) [Photo via Mega Agency]

“Before that interview, you know, he had us practicing every single day,” Clary told King on Thursday. “Answering questions. And if he didn’t like our answers, he would tell us exactly what to say and how to say it, so any time you mentioned anything about sexual preference, we already know to say, ‘I’m not here to talk about that,’ because that’s what he told us to say every single time,” she concluded.

She added that she was scared as she didn’t want the world to see her that way. “I’m loving. I’m caring. I’m compassionate and no one got to see that side of me.”

Kelly Thought His Interview Went Well

When Kelly sat down for King’s interview in 2019, he went on an erratic spree.

“Stop it,” Kelly exclaimed. “You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my f***ing life! Y’all killing me with this sh*t! I gave you 30 years of my f***ing career!”

Clary eventually confessed that after their sit-downs with King, the singer was in a celebratory mood about how the young women’s interview worked according to plan.

“Truthfully, he believed he had done well. He felt he had made a great reflection of himself and where he was in life and how these women were lying on him and all these people were out to get him. That sympathy card that he just loves so much,” she reflected.

She also added that Kelly took her out to celebrate. “He was so happy,” Clary stated. “He was so happy, he was like, ‘You guys did amazing. You did so well, you carried yourself so well,’” She said. “I believe he even got food and wanted to celebrate. That’s how happy he was with that interview. I was just there like, ‘Wow.’”

Clary Left Kelly Not Too Long After

A week after the 2019 interview, Clary left Kelly and made amends with her estranged parents, whom she long claimed was lying about her relationship with Kelly.

“Suprise,” Clary announced on Instagram, along with a series of photos with her family. “Let the healing process begin. Love y’all and thank y’all. I even thank everyone who follows me.. because you all believed in me when I could not believe for myself. #movingontobetterdays.”

A photo of Azriel Clary in a white T-shirt, denim short and knee-high boots.A photo of Azriel Clary in a white T-shirt, denim short and knee-high boots.
Instagram | Azriel Clary

Before this, Clary’s family had expressed their concerns that Kelly had allegedly brainwashed their daughter by isolating and abusing them.

Clary denied her family’s claims, accusing them of lying about Kelly’s behavior. She also alluded that they were trying to extort money from the singer and soil his name.

Clary Testified Against Kelly On Monday

Clary testified that he began sexually abusing her when she was 17 years old during Kelly’s trial. She also said at the trial that she “was not honest in the interview.”

When asked by King about what it felt like testifying against Kelly, she admitted that it was like she had regained control of her life.

A photo showing Azriel Clary in a denim pant and jacket over a white halter-neck blouse.A photo showing Azriel Clary in a denim pant and jacket over a white halter-neck blouse.
Instagram | Azriel Clary

“I feel like it was very disturbing to have to relive those moments. A piece of me was happy because I felt like this person no longer has control over me. You don’t tell me what to do and what to wear and where to go and how long to be in a room anymore.”

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