Vivica A. Fox Interview: "I Fear for Our Future"
Image attributed to Vivica A. Fox
South Bend, Indiana, native Vivica A. Fox began acting professionally on soap operas Days of Our Lives in 1988 and Generations in 1989. Other television appearances include Beverly Hills, 90210, The Young and the Restless, Arsenio, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Melissa & Joey, Raising Hope and Mann & Wife. In 2015, Fox was cast as Cookie Lyon’s sister, Candace, for the second season of the drama series Empire.
Fox is known for playing Jasmine Dubrow in the 1996 film Independence Day and reprising that role in its sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, in 2016. She has appeared in Set It Off, Soul Food, Kill Bill: Volume 1, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Shark City, Line of Duty, Sharknado 2: The Second One and Chocolate City: Vegas.
"It has been an amazing journey for me. It has been a crazy ride for that girl from Indiana with big dreams, and I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of wonderful things. I’m very blessed. But, it has been a journey. It’s been full of highs and lows, and that’s why I always make sure that I try to pass on my message to Generation X that this isn’t a race. It’s a marathon, and you’ve got to understand the business, what goes on behind the show, to not just be chewed up and spit out."
Lifetime turns up the heat January 4, 2017, with the all-new series premiere of Vivica’s Black Magic, in which Fox, as host, launches her newest business venture – an exotic male revue and ultimate ladies’ night experience featuring her “Magic Men.” The network has ordered eight one-hour episodes of the series.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Vivica, how did Black Magic come about?
Vivica A. Fox: Vivica’s Black Magic is my brainchild, and I’m very proud to claim that. I was working on a film called Chocolate City with the director Jean-Claude La Marre who’s an independent filmmaker. We’ve done several projects together, so we did Chocolate City, which was a film that I was so happy to see being made because I thought that Magic Mike was lacking diversity. When I got cast to play the mom in Chocolate City, being the businesswoman that I am, I told Jean-Claude, “This is the gift that can keep on giving. You can do a reality show. You can do a tour.” He said, “Okay. How about you go pitch it with me and we’ll see what happens?”
We got together with Howard Owens from Propagate, and that day he happened to be having a meeting with an executive from Lifetime. He said, “Why don’t you stick around? I love the idea.” We stuck around and boom! They bought eight episodes! I was like, “Wow!” We got started and a year later, here we are about to come out January 4, Wednesday night, on Lifetime.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Can this be described as America’s Got Talent “Stripper Version”?
Vivica A. Fox: I love that (laughs). Let’s put it this way. There won’t be a male exotic dancer 2016 Champion with this one, no. I auditioned guys from all over the country, starting from the east coast to the west coast. I narrowed it down to seven. We already had Bolo who was from Chocolate City and our star of that movie. When you watch the show, you’ll see why Bolo didn’t have to audition. He’s just a jewel. Anyway, we narrowed it down to our lead eight, and our goal was to take eight male exotic dancers on a journey of getting them a residency in Las Vegas.
In that journey, each week is to create the ultimate girl’s night out where we throw parties and do different shows for my VIP celebrity guests to my celebrity friends at private parties to then opening up to the public to our finale showcase in Las Vegas to see whether or not we have what it takes to get a residency in Las Vegas.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In addition to the six-pack abs, what are the qualities you look for in each dancer?
Vivica A. Fox: The “It” Factor in my dancers. We were looking for guys that had the “It” Factor. We didn’t want to have eight guys that all looked the same. That’s the beauty of it, that each guy has his own special thing, but they’re all like eight alpha male guys. We got the best of the best. But, the “It” Factor was if they had presence and a nice body. They have to have a good physique and good moves. Are they good dancers? Can they seduce a lady and bring them it?
You have to pull women in when they go to watch exotic dancers. You have to pull them in. They’re not like guys. Guys are like, “Ready! Take it off and shake it!” For women, it’s the art of the seduction that just makes them go, “Oh, honey, here’s my money! Take my check! Just take it!” (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You had a couple of friends help you determine which dancers would stay and which should go home?
Vivica A. Fox: That’s the great thing about our show. You’ll get to see three women be in charge of eight alpha guys. I have Eurika who is my showrunner and Kiana who’s my show coordinator and basically keeps the guys together, takes care of the wardrobe and sees that everybody does what they’re supposed to do every performance.
Then, we have Darrin Henson who is our choreographer. He’s an actor as well, and he has choreographed for Jennifer Lopez, Brittany Spears and NSYNC. Each week, you’re going to get eight different performances that we had to come up with from locations to wardrobes to themes to choreography. You also get to meet people from Las Vegas from Marklen Kennedy who has four shows there to meeting Billy Cross from Thunder from Down Under male revue, letting us know about showmanship and what it takes to have a lasting and productive show in Las Vegas. It was a journey. It really was.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did you become involved in Empire, Vivica, and what’s next for Candace?
Vivica A. Fox: Believe it or not, it happened with me making it to the final three of Celebrity Apprentice. Empire’s director, Lee Daniels, who I’ve known for a very long time, was watching Celebrity Apprentice, and I had the epic boardroom showdown. He hit me and said, “Baby, we’ve got to figure out a way to get you on Empire!” He kept his word.
Three months later, he gave me a call and said, “I want you to play Cookie’s older sister. Her whole world is different than Cookie and all this music world and all of this going on with them.” Candace is just totally different. She’s the older sister. The main thing about Candace is she just doesn’t get this whole music world. This past season, you got to see why there was such a difference between Candace and Cookie. Now, the two sisters have bonded, and Candace is doing everything she can to have Cookie find a new love different than Lucious.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Candace is a little bossy.
Vivica A. Fox: Just a tad … just a tad (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Vivica, you left Indiana for Hollywood at a young age and on your own?
Vivica A. Fox: Yep, one month after I graduated from high school. It has been an amazing journey for me. It has been a crazy ride for that girl from Indiana with big dreams, and I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of wonderful things. I’m very blessed. But, it has been a journey. It’s been full of highs and lows, and that’s why I always make sure that I try to pass on my message to Generation X that this isn’t a race. It’s a marathon, and you’ve got to understand the business, what goes on behind the show, to not just be chewed up and spit out.
I’ve been able to travel the world and live out my journey beyond my wildest expectations. I’ve met some amazing people. I just did my directorial debut. I have a young artist that I’m working with by the name of Thomas Hobbs who’s from the Midwest as well. I directed his music video called “We On.” I’ve produced stage plays, television shows, co-produced movies. I just had a Christmas movie out called A Husband for Christmas. A lot of people are like, “How do you do all this?” My answer is, “Lack of sleep and determination and just staying focused.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were recently the host of the IDA (International Documentary Association) awards, and Norman Lear said that filmmakers must protect the First Amendment in the Trump era. What are you uneasy about during a Trump administration?
Vivica A. Fox: Gosh, the craziness of it all, to be very honest with you. [When the electoral college voted], it was a very difficult day for me. It’s tough because all of a sudden you see so much craziness and hatred and ugliness going on in our world. I was just really hoping that we could continue the path of progress that Barack and Michelle Obama made for the last eight years. They have worked so hard for our country.
Basically, for me, to see a con man come in and con the American people (into believing his rhetoric) is disappointing. I commend Obama for saying we should give him a try, but it just seems like every day you turn on the TV and go, “Wow!” You’re like, “What’s going to happen today?” I fear for our future. I’m going to try and stay prayerful and positive, but I’m definitely paying attention and watching and will continue to stand up and be counted. It’s tough.
He tapped into people’s fear and ignorance with no knowledge and no true leadership qualities, in my opinion, except for he’s a good businessman. It’s just, wow. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to the Obamas on January 21. It really is.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you feel about being the first black woman to portray the president in a feature film (Crossbreed)?
Vivica A. Fox: Oh, my gosh, such an honor. I just commend the director, Brandon Slagle, who thought outside the box. When he was pitched the idea, he was like, “Absolutely!” Here was this young white guy that said, “That’s an awesome idea! We love Vivica!” He was thinking forward that not only could the president of the United States be a woman, but an African-American woman. I commend him for that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you ever thought of running for political office?
Vivica A. Fox: You know, there are days that I say, “Absolutely.” I’ve been a proud democrat for as long as I’ve been able to vote. I’ve stumped for Al Gore, Barack Obama and recently Hillary Clinton, and there are times when I’m out there, I think about it. It’s like, “Yeah!” So, I won’t say never. But, I’ve got some more journey to do over here in being an actress.
I’d never say never, if the opportunity was to present itself. I do care about Generation X. I do a lot of motivational speaking. I care about our future and our babies. We’ve got to stand up and speak out. We’ve got to leave them with something instead of just being selfish and thinking about ourselves because there are others who came before and did it for us.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve got my vote!
Vivica A. Fox: (laughs) Vote for Vivica!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are there other projects you'd like to discuss?
Vivica A. Fox: Well, my hair line, the Vivica Fox Hair Collection’s doing great. I have a new clothing line, the Vivica Fox Collection by Poetic Justice Jeans where we make affordable clothing for women of all sizes. I believe that my girls with curves deserve to look fabulous, too.
I just got back from South Africa where I did Bring It On 6, and I’ll be playing the cheer goddess. That was so much fun. Then, I closed a book deal with St. Martin’s Press. So, that’s awesome, and we’ve got that to look forward to as well. It will be both motivational and inspirational.
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