The Real Reason Salt From Salt-N-Pepa Got Divorced

Rap duo Salt-N-Pepa may be made for each other, but frontwoman Cheryl "Salt" James has had trouble finding a romantic match. The iconic hip hop stars' Lifetime movie, Salt-N-Pepa, debuted Jan. 23, 2021, so it's only fitting to reflect on Salt's tumultuous love life. 

Both Salt and Pepa, a.k.a. Sandra Denton, are divorced. While other female rappers have pursued the big screen, the "Push It" singers prefer to stay behind-the-scenes, and that also means having a say in what can be shown on-camera. So what was strictly off-limits for Salt? Her relationship with her ex-husband, Gavin Wray. 

"You can tell your story and then by the time it goes through a writer, director and a movie company, sometimes it's not exactly what you want to portray," Salt told Entertainment Tonight. "Also when you're telling your story there's other people in your life that are involved...I felt like I had to be delicate about incorporating other people's stories in my story."

So what is the true reason why Salt and Wray split? Keep scrolling to find out!

Cheryl 'Salt' James had a difficult divorce

Even Cheryl "Salt" James doesn't want to "Talk About Sex" right now! Salt was married to music producer Gavin Wray for about 18 years, but they reportedly divorced in 2018, according to the Daily News

Salt admitted to The Jasmine Brand that the divorce was "one of the darkest times" in her life because of how long it took. She explained their split had more to do with her finding herself rather than actual irreconcilable differences. "It was me trying to fill someone else's void. And I didn't realize that I was doing that," she said. "Sometimes we make ourselves small to fit in someone's box and accommodate them. A lot of times we do that with men. And when I was coming out, it was a long process of me coming out of the dark part of being divorced." 

Salt had a strong support system built on faith, family, and friends, including her longtime performing partner, Sandra "Pepa" Denton. "I talked to Pep a lot, I cried a lot," Salt said. "I didn't try to rush through emotion and the death of my marriage. I really focused on healing and being consistent with whatever I had to do. I took a few classes, I did a little therapy. Whatever you have to do to get yourself out of it, you will one day eventually get past it." 

Understandably, Salt chose not to relive that heartache for the duo's Lifetime film. All's well that ends well, it seems. 

Cheryl 'Salt' James battled body image issues

Cheryl "Salt" James struggled with self-confidence even before her divorce from Gavin Wray. James dated producer Hurby "Love Bug" Azor in 1985, during the early days of Salt-N-Pepa, but as the relationship continued, the pressures of fame had her doubting herself. 

"Teenage girls usually have some sort of body issues," James told Newsday in 2021. "But then you throw that girl into being a celebrity and always taking photos and being on red carpets and the limelight and the pressure of trying to be thin...It's very common that can turn into an eating disorder. I felt all of that pressure." 

Many celebrities in the limelight have struggled with eating disorders, and James' journey is a success story (albeit with some bumps along the way). James called it quits with Azor in 1989 and began dating future husband Wray in 1990. The couple wed 10 years later on Christmas Eve, per The Cinemaholic.

While James' career skyrocketed, her self-described "weight worries" developed into bulimia and severe depression, according to The Star Tribune. "I got to a point where I just couldn't handle it anymore. I hit rock bottom," James said. "I was so focused on me that I felt I had no room to them of [Salt-N-Pepa]." Salt-N-Pepa officially disbanded in 2002, inspiring James to seek help. 

Cheryl 'Salt' James is now focusing on herself

Cheryl "Salt" James found forgiveness and recovery through her faith. After Salt-N-Pepa disbanded, James acknowledged her issues and was driven to focus on healing herself. "I got to that desperate place where nobody could help me but God," James told The Star Tribune. "That meant to me that I needed to shut down a lot of things and focus on God because that was where my healing was. I needed to take a beat for myself." 

James' pastor told her that "change is not an event, it's a process," and those words of wisdom assisted James' path to overcome bulimia. Her husband, Gavin Wray, was there for her throughout her process and encouraged her to speak to a therapist. "For me, the bulimia was about stuffing my emotions. So I stopped suppressing my feelings," James recalled, according to Distractify

As of this writing, after her tumultuous divorce from Wray, James isn't letting that change hold her back either. Even though the experience was painful, she told Newsday that she would like to get back into the dating game — that is, as long as men aren't intimidated by her success. "I haven't had a date yet, but I'm just putting it out there," James said. "People are afraid of celebrities. They're so intimidated, we barely get approached. It's a problem."

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorder Association's Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or chat with one of their helpline volunteers on NEDA's website.