Don’t knock Vivica A. Fox‘s hustle. For more than 20 years the Indiana native has gifted the world with award-winning performances on the big and small screens. Whether she was busy keeping folks in check on HBO’s Emmy-nominated Curb Your Enthusiasm, competing on Dancing With The Stars, hosting a reality show, invoking her inner samurai as an assassin in the Kill Bill series or keeping her man in check in Two Can Play that Game, Fox has proven that her staying power is what great legacies are made of. Nowadays, Fox is bringing her raw talent to the stage play, “Cheaper to Keep Her,â€ reminding her loyalists why they first fell in love with her. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the Fox to talk about why she’s nobody’s has-been, branding and building her empire and how to financially recover from a divorce.
For “Cheaper to Keep Her” you reunite with executive producers and founders of I’m Ready Productions, Inc., Je’Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, after costarring an co-producing their 2008 play “Whatever She Wants,” alongside Boris Kodjoe and Richard Roundtree. What makes them great collaborators?
Je’Caryous’ writing is excellent and he touches on what’s going on with you as an actor and as a female. He also takes the time to think about what the best role is for me. The first play was based off of my film, Two Can Play that Game. This time around my character, Morgan Mays, is a slight departure from my other roles in that she’s like the Stepford Wife–cooking, cleaning and trying to be perfect for her husband Raymond Mays [played by Brian McKnight] because she loves and trusts him.
Your character Morgan goes through a painful divorce because her husband wants to trade her in for a “better model.â€ As a divorcee, do you think most married couples outgrow one another and if so, why?
Absolutely, because people get comfortable and take each other for granted, forgetting how special that person is that you decided to share vows with before God and once felt like you couldn’t live without. My character loses herself in her marriage and her husband ends up cheating on her, so there’s a message there and a lesson to be learned. In my personal life, my first husband and I did outgrow each other mainly because I needed to not be the only one carrying the load. You can’t depend on one person so much that you start to take them for granted because eventually one of you becomes resentful of the other.
Do you have any advice for single, married or divorced women trying to secure their financial futures?
Take time to get to know your partner. I believe in prenups and had one for my first marriage. Save and invest in your future because if you don’t take care of yourself, who will? Don’t get caught up in spending all your money on bling, shoes and purses. Get a pension plan and a secured, money-generating interest account that is insured. As a member of SAG, I contribute to mine. Lastly, keep your life simple. I don’t like a lot of different people in my business, so I keep it tight and right with a small team that I trust.
Often when established actresses star in off-Broadway plays, they are deemed relevant. What do you say to those naysayers?
Of course, I hear it: “Her career is over!â€ What people don’t understand is that I’m a co-producer of this play. I don’t get involved with anything unless it’s quality. It’s not chitlin’ circuit entertainment like some might think. Tyler Perry stepped up the game about what to expect and what to deliver on stage. Besides, I’m a woman in my 40s and I’m not happy with many of the roles that have been offered to me. I’m not waiting for Hollywood to throw me a Grandma Suzy role, and I don’t want to become a bitter-b—- actress. I’m entering into the next chapter of my career and branding my name with my Vivica Fox wig collection, DVDs produced by Foxy Brown Productions, plays and movies. People say, “Oh, Vivica only does those straight-to-DVD movies now,” but if you don’t understand the business you shouldn’t comment. Each time those DVDs sell well, we get a bigger budget to do a better movie. I mean, I have to start somewhere, don’t I?
So how lucrative has branding proven for you?
I can make anywhere between a half a million to over a million per year doing my DVDs, stage plays and other projects like television work. Also, real estate has been good to me. I just sold my second home.
Your tenacity, business savvy, and staying power in this fickle industry is one of the things we’ve always admired. How essential is reinvention to your survival and relevance in Hollywood?
Again, it’s not even about Hollywood, but about branding my name. For the last 20 years, I’ve made sacrifices for my career so that I could do just this so when I was approached with this opportunity to create my own wig collection I jumped on it. The thing is, I make my haters congratulaters. People don’t understand the hair industry is a $1 billion-a-year industry, so why wouldn’t I want a percentage of it? I want my wigs to be used in stage plays, movies, and television shows.
So do you plan to market your wig collection to other cultures or ethnicities?
No, my wig line is for African American women. That’s not to say that Latinas might not be interested, but I know my core audience. The community has been very good to me and while I’ve crossed over, my main crew is Black women.
We appreciate your loyalty. So what’s on the horizon for you?
I costar in The Discarded Boys, an indie film directed by Robert Townsend, which is a coming-of-age story for young Black men. It’s a great story because so many of our young Black boys’ futures are bleak and they are being raised in households without fathers. My character, Billy, is dark and extremely dysfunctional and was fun for me to play. I also shot a pilot for a talk show on the Style Network, and I am the voice for the Cartoon Network’s new Scooby Doo’s Angel Dynamite, a cool DJ who leads a double life an was a former member of the show’s original Mystery Inc. When it comes to my career, I don’t get caught up in what people think I should be and do. You have to find your own way and make your own destiny. Trust me, if you try to put me in a box, I’m going to bust out of it. Therefore, I don’t fit into one genre and won’t ever limit myself, so I’m gong to continue to make my own path.