Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WTLE Exclusive Interview with Ms Vivica A. Fox


By Belinda Trotter-James

When I first sat down to speak with Vivica, I didn't want to start out by talking about her fabulous A-list life.  She has had a very long and highly successful acting career. Her fans can tell you that she has been seen in a combination of over 50 movie, television and stage productions. She is considered the elite among African-American Hollywood actresses. I have a movie list of fan favorites to talk about however, the only thing I wanted to talk about first was her amazing line of wigs!

We laughed and then she said, "It is so amazing to me because I started the trend and now everyone has caught on and I'm starting to see a lot of celebrities starting their own hair line too", says Vivica.   "I'll never forget that when I first started doing this, I took over for Beverly Johnson because she decided she didn't want to do it anymore.  So, of course Amekok Industries, Inc. that carried her hair line were looking for a new face. My manager said, 'Hey what about Vivica Fox?' and at the time I was just coming off of the huge success of "Kill Bill".   "They said, 'Oh my God do you think we can get Vivica Fox?'  My manager said, 'Let me reach out to her.'  When she let me know, I said, 'As much money as I spend on wigs and weaves, yes let me get a piece of that pie back.' So I had a lot of motivation."

Vivica has been featuring some of the best styles in wigs for over five years.  At one point people were saying that  her career was over and the checks would stop coming in. However, Vivica realized that this was the beginning of her starting to brand Vivica A Fox.   "With all the many looks I have had over the years now people can have the same looks as well", explains Vivica.  "I have had so many women come up to me to say they are rocking my hair pieces right now and I would say, 'Alright girl!'

Vivica is very involved in selecting the wigs and being photographed in them. Every year she does a new photo shoot for Amekor Industries, Inc who always make it a point to run things by her to see what she thinks about the new hair designs.  It takes two days for her to shoot a new line of wigs.  The company is very good about staying on top of things to keep the looks new and current. "At the photo shoot I have to model 70 different wigs", reveals Vivica.  "I am really happy that we have a style designer by the name of Kia McKinsey.  She's a sister from Philadelphia whose life was changed when they asked her to come onboard. They took her out of a beauty shop to create the latest styles and colors for the hair line."  Vivica is not hands-on when it comes to creating the wigs however, she definitely gives her advice when they ask her what she thinks of certain styles. She also promotes the wigs by selecting her favorite look of the week.
Visit http://vivicafoxhair.com/ for Vivica's Hair Collection

Things have really changed in hair care since my day as a hair magazine editor.  Today the hair is very versatile, inexpensive and so natural looking. Vivica adds, "It's great because it used to be so taboo back in the day to say you're wearing a wig or weave. However, today girls want to know where you get your hair. What's beautiful about my hair line is that its lightweight, curling iron safe, affordable, not super expensive, stylish with the latest colors and the latest looks plus we use bio cap technology."

I've always wanted to dye my hair a different color, but was always afraid to because of the damage it may cause to my hair. Now that Vivica has her hair line we can all rock various styles and colors in an instant.  Never again will you be at the mercy of a hairdresser who doesn't show up or can't figure out what to do with your hair. Actually that did happen to Vivica on an episode of "LA Hair". The hairstylist appeared to not know what to do with Vivica's hair or the hair pieces that were given beforehand. It was a very unprofessional situation and you can tell Vivica was not a happy camper. Instead of screaming at the stylist she calmly went into the bathroom, lock the door and called a real stylist, Dr. Boogie to do her hair.
She was too pissed to laugh then, but she laughed and said regarding that entire incident,  "I felt like I was in the twilight zone or getting punked."  Some people who have only had a short time of the success may feel a sense of entitlement over a veteran. Early in her career Vivica revealed a good friend said to her, 'Know your place, play your position and stay in your lane'. Those words of wisdom ended up being the keys to Vivica's strong work ethic.

For those of you who don't know the place she gives credit for having a wonderful upbringing, it goes to Indianapolis, Indiana.  "It gets all the credit. I had a wonderful childhood," says Vivica. "It was definitely before the days of social media, bullying and all the craziness."  She graduated from Alrington high school in Indianapolis, Indiana.  While pursuing her career goals after high school, she still had to go to collage first. "I received an AA in social science and I was also trying to model and get into show business. My mom was not letting me get out of her house without first having an education", remembers Vivica.  She kept her part of the deal with her mom and went on to fulfill a dream and be able to live out her wildest expectations.

Ms. Fox has appeared in or starred in many films and television shows. Fan favorites are "Independence Day", "Set It Off", "Kill Bill", "Juwanna Mann", "Booty Call" and "Two Can Play That Game" just to name a few.  How does one go about selecting which project to work on.  Her mentor gave her some very sound advice.  "Samuel L Jackson is my role model.  He said a lot of people always get caught up selecting which roles to play.  I asked him how does he get in so many movies and he said,  'Vivica, you're an actress; do the work. Make sure that you do things that you want to do and don't do the same character over and over.' So I've always made sure that versatility has been the key to my longevity. I can do drama, comedy, stage, TV and I can do movies. When you do so much of the same character, people become bored with you."

Selecting a role is one thing however,  preparing for a role is a totally different beast. She has played in so many films that I had to narrow it down to my one favorite film which is "Kill Bill". Vivica's fight scene was so intense that I know she had to be in serious pain weeks after the scene was over. "We filmed that fight scene over four days and basically destroyed this little house in Pasadena", explains Vivica.  "Each day we destroyed a different part of the house with fight scenes.  I had to train for six long months for that fight scene. I went from a size 10 to a size 2 training for that film. People were looking at me and saying, 'Girl are you eating?' Quentin Tarantino had us learning taekwondo, stunts, how to fall and how to do the choreography; it was intense. I was also sent to Beijing, China for a month to train. We were training eight hours a day five days a week for the first three months and then I came back to the states to train for another month before we finally shot the scene," explains Vivica. "All I did for months was work out."

For those of you who are fans of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" Vivica gave me an insiders peek into a part of her scene that you may have missed.  She reveals that Quentin made sure to highlighted her booty in the fight scenes. So the next time you watch "Kill Bill" you will know to look for the cameo appearance of Vivica's booty.

I had to confess to Vivica that I had not seen her movie Sharknado 2 and asked for her forgiveness for the question I was about to ask.  I wanted to know if she got eaten or killed in the first scene.  "Oh hell no!,"exclaims Vivica. "I was the sister  that made it all the way to the end and I got a chance to kiss a white boy", she laughs. It's funny that she would say that she got a chance to kiss someone because I don't see her in many love scenes because she's always kicking somebody's ass. I asked if she selected those non-love roles on purpose?  She thought for a moment and replied, "Not really. I have had some great kiss scenes, but not many love scenes." She may not of had many love scenes, but she sho' nuf had a chance to put her lips on Will Smith, Morris Chestnut and Larenz Tate. "I have definitely played some strong characters", says Vivica, "but I guess that's because I was an athlete. Growing up I played basketball, volleyball, track and I was a cheerleader. So for me to be physical was very easy." That explains why she was so good in Juwanna Mann. Her character played on a girls basketball team. "Oh yeah, my team won the 1981 championship in Indianapolis, Indiana for Arlington high school, yes ma'am", says Vivica.  She did win an MTV award for best kiss with Will Smith.  I guess that definitely proves that she not only can act, but she has kissing skills as well.

Vivica is not one to shy way from the stage and will be appearing in a Mike Matthews production in Detroit."Stranger At My Door" is a gospel production where I'm going to play a detective.  We start rehearsals in two weeks and then we are going to do a weekend run. I love the theater and don't want to forget to do stage performances so that I can add more versatility to my resume", explains Vivica.  "I love, love doing stage.  I produced two stage plays with Je'Caryous Johnson of I'm Ready Productions called, "Cheaper To Keep Her" with Brian McKnight and "Whatever She Wants" with Boris Kodjoe and Richard Roundtree. Her latest stage production is perfect because she will be close to her home in Indiana. All her family and friends will be able to come see her in action.

Many actresses are now going into producing many film projects themselves.  They are not doing it because they are retiring from acting. It could be something as simple as having a curiosity for what goes on behind the camera. Vivica adds, "I really love being in control of the product that I present to my audience and when you're producing it allows you to have more creative input", says Vivica.  "I remember when I was in "Two Can Play That Game".  Sometimes it's so difficult for some people in the entertainment industry to direct us.  They always like to tell us how we are, how we dress, how we walk, how we talk from their perspective.   Therefore, when you become a producer you can say, 'We don't talk like that and actually we don't dress like that either'.  You're in total control of what images will be seen by your audience. I was so proud of BeyoncĂ© when she produced her own videos.  She didn't rely on a record label to tell her this is what we think you should do next. She just knew this is what I'm doing next. I like that; I think that's when you get better results.  That's one of the main reasons why I decided to become a producer. I wanted to make sure I had a say in my productions."

Sometimes fans may think that all the actors and actresses know each other. This is not always true. Sometimes they never get a chance to cross paths. However, Vanessa Bell Callaway's web series,  "In The Company Of Friends" allows you to get a glimpse at what it is like to sit down and have dinner with Hollywood's African American finest. You can see Vivica having dinner with Vanessa and friends in season two, episode nine where everyone revealed what would be their tailor-made life.  "It's so funny that you mentioned that because I just had dinner last night with Vanessa Bell Calloway", reveals Vivica.  "She had a nice dinner party for Simone, LL Cool J's wife."

Vivica does have a group of friends from the industry that she hangs out with including Regina King, Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell performed at her birthday party. "We were all in Jamaica together for my birthday", says Vivica.  She also revealed that the African-American community of actresses are all close.  "We hang with each other and we support each other, but lately I have been spending a lot of time with my family", says Vivica.  "I've been making sure not to miss those special moments. We have a close knit family and I'm really close with my big sister".  None of her siblings are in the entertainment business; she is the only one. "I'm the only one. My brothers and sisters are all professionals", says Vivica.

Another one of my favorite performances from Ms. Fox was on "Curb Your Enthusiasm".  Actually my husband got me hooked on the show.  Vivica recalls, "The show came about because my manager's husband is also a fan of the show.  I had just got kicked off of "Dancing With The Stars".  I was unfairly booted and was ready to go to an island to hang out, drown my sorrows in a Pina colada, hang by the pool and say I got robbed."

Life is so funny with all its twists and turns. She was in rehearsals for dancing with the stars for six weeks before the show actually aired.  It was a grueling rehearsal schedule and she was the fourth celebrity to leave the show.  It was definitely not a good feeling. However as the saying goes, 'When one door closes, another one opens'.  The next door that open belonged to Larry David.  It was meant for her to get eliminated from "Dancing With The Stars" so that we could see her improv skills shine on "Curb Your Enthusiasm". It just so happen that on her way to the airport she found out that she got an audition for "Curb Your Enthusiasm". On the advice of her manager's husband, he told her to call him [Larry David] LD. If you call him LD, he is going to like that. So in truth fashion Vivica walked in with her swag and said, "What's up LD?" That was one of the main things that stuck out in her audition and she got the job. You have to be a really good actress to do this particular type of show because there is no script; it's all improv. You have to put on your producer/actress/writer's hat to keep up with the professionals on that show.  "There were plenty of laughs on set, but you had to put on your big girl boots because if you wasn't funny, LD would let you know it."

Vivica has lived and is still living a fabulous life. Her longevity in this business proves she has what it takes to face the challenges of reinventing herself in this business we call entertainment. She just finish wrapping up her latest project called, "Chocolate City" which is basically the African-American version of Magic Mike.  "I had a wonderful time", laughs Vivica.   She goes on to say that she plays the mom of a very attractive young man who is struggling to pay bills while going to college.  He gets lured into the world of stripping and starts making a lot of money.  However, his mom thinks he's a drug dealer and tries to save him from that type of life.  "It was really a lot of fun. The guys are hot and the girls are going to love it", says Vivica!

This is a really tough business to get into and Vivica has managed to carve out a spot in the limelight for herself. For those who are still waiting for your light to shine, don't give up.  "The one thing I always try to pass on to other actors is to have an attitude of gratitude", advises Vivica.  "People have to realize that only 2% of the actors in the Screen Actors Guild are working. That's a tough world to get into. Therefore, show up with an attitude of gratitude, be professional, know your lines, be on time and be grateful that you have the opportunity to do what you love".  With all that Vivica knows about this business would she do it all over again? "Sure, I have no regrets. Absolutely none", says Vivica.

Make sure to follow her on Twitter  https://twitter.com/MsVivicaFox

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1 comment:

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