Superstar Vivica A. Fox Has Never Forgotten Her Soap Roots
Being a film and TV actor, producer, talk show host, author, brand ambas- sador, entrepreneur and philanthropist all rolled into one may be overwhelming, even intimidating, but for soap alum Vivica A. Fox, it’s just another day in her life. That drive and the art of multitasking came early, she reports. “I’ve always been a Type A personality,” shrugs Fox. “I mean, growing up I played basketball, volleyball, track and I was a cheerleader. My mom worked two jobs while rasing four kids. She and my dad separated when I was young, so I’d say I definitely got that work ethic from my mother.”
That served Fox well when, after earning an Associate Arts degree in Social Sciences, she detoured to show business. “I started off mod- eling, and acting just kind of fell in my lap,” she admits. “I began on DAYS OF OUR LIVES as a nurse, but I only did a few shows because then I got a part on CHINA BEACH.”
After that foray into prime-time, Fox circled back to GENERATIONS and Y&R (see sidebar). “I believe soap actors are some of the best-trained actors out there,” she declares. “The fact that they can memorize 20-25 pages of dialogue and do shows Monday through Friday and have people watch them for years is a true gift. You work 12 hours, you go home, study, and you’re back the next day doing it again. It was excellent training for a young actress.”
It was while Fox was appearing on daytime that her life changed dramatically. “The wife of a producer by the name of Bill Fay was at home pregnant watching YOUNG AND RESTLESS and she saw me,” Fox recounts. “They were having a hard time finding someone to play the character Jasmine for Will Smith in Independence Day. A week before, I had said to my agent, ‘I heard everybody is auditioning for Independence Day.’ I had done a guest appearance on THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR [starring Smith], so I said, ‘Why don’t I get an opportunity?’ She said, ‘Oh, honey, you’re just on a soap opera. You don’t have a big enough name.’ Then she called me later and goes, ‘Oh, my God, guess what? They called for you today.’ And six auditions later, I got Independence Day, which turned into one of the first big, mega, must-see summer flicks.”
From there, Fox’s career skyrocketed. Film and television roles came pouring in and she has worked steadily on several projects per year ever since. “In California every- body is kind of used to me now,” she chuckles. “When I do go places, people are like, ‘Oh, my God, Vivica Fox!’ Or they walk up to me and start doing a scene from one of my movies. I just kind of go, ‘Okay! All right!’ and take pictures with them.”
Fox’s roles in Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Ella Enchanted are particular favorites. “I remember asking my agent about Kill Bill because I heard it had female assassins and Uma Thurman,” she recalls. “A couple of weeks later, I got a call that I had a meeting with [Writer/ Director] Quentin Tarantino at a coffee shop for about 15, 20 minutes, and then he’d let me know whether or not he liked me.”
The 2003 tête-à-tête went better than expected. “As soon as I came in, he was like, ‘Vivica Fox!’ and I said, ‘Okay, that’s a great start,’ ” she smiles. “He goes through this whole thing that he was in a video store and he said, ‘There was you on the cover of Two Can Play That Game and you had on this leopard dress. That’s when I knew you were going to be my Vernita Green.’ The next thing you know, I was in training for six months, kicking butt for my fight scene. I went from a size 8 down to a 2/4.”
The following year, Fox was asked to play Lucinda, a bumbling fairy godmother in Ella Enchanted. “I didn’t have to audition this time,” she marvels. “It was like, ‘Yeah, they want you to be Lucinda and you get to go to Ireland.’ When I got there, I just remember there was a lot of glitter and it rained a lot. Anne Hathaway [Ella] and I would have brunch every Sunday together. She’s a sweetheart and I knew that girl was going to be a big star.”
Along the way, Fox added producer to her resumé (“Wearing another hat for me is so vital. It means that I am in control of the product that I present to my audience”), which led to a successful collaboration with Lifetime Movie Network. Since 2016, she has starred in and produced a franchise with WRONG in the title — THE WRONG HOUSE SITTER, THE WRONG CHEERLEADER, THE WRONG TUTOR, THE WRONG MOMMY, THE WRONG BOY NEXT DOOR, THE WRONG STEPMOTHER, THE WRONG TEACHER, THE WRONG FRIEND, THE WRONG CRUISE, THE WRONG MAN, THE WRONG CRUSH, THE WRONG STUDENT, THE WRONG CHILD, THE WRONG ROOMMATE. Fox notes, “The beautiful thing about these films is that I always get to play different characters that maybe I wouldn’t get cast [in], but since I’m a producer, I can cast myself.”
This month, two new installments will air, starting with THE WRONG WEDDING PLANNER. “I play Detective Jones,” Fox explains. “There’s a lady, Ashley, who is about to get married and in the midst of pre- paring for her upcoming nuptials; she runs into a nutcase wedding planner, who is basically setting up to kind of steal Ashley’s life and her man. My character doesn’t believe Ashley, but they go on the adventure of discover- ing the wrong wedding planner.” Next will be THE WRONG STEPFATHER. Fox continues, “I’m the principal at a high school and my co-star is Krista Allen [ex-Billie, DAYS], who I absolutely loved work- ing with. Her character is newly single and she runs into a guy who’s trying to be Mr. Right, but you find out that he’s the wrong stepfather.” With several movies in either pre- or postproduction, there is, not surprisingly, little time for Fox to take a break — and that’s the way she likes it. “I’m in my 50s and I’m still getting amazing new opportunities,” she reflects. “A lot of people would be slowing down in their career at this age, but not me! Sometimes I’m like, ‘Do I have enough hours in the day?’ But I always make it work.”
Just The Facts
Birthday: July 30
Living Arrangements: Born in South Bend, IN, grew up in Indianapolis.
To The Letter: Her middle initial stands for Anjanetta.
All Aboard: Her first TV appearance was as a recur- ring dancer on SOUL TRAIN (1983-84).
Bubble Up: Her soap credits are Carmen Silva, DAYS (1988); Maya Reubens, GENERATIONS (1989- 91); and Stephanie Simmons, Y&R (1994-95). She most recently appeared as EMPIRE’s Candace from 2015-20.
Come & Go: She appeared in the pilot episode of the sitcom LIVING DOLLS, a spin-off of WHO’S THE BOSS?, but was replaced with Halle Berry.
Tress The Positive: The Vivica A. Fox Hair Collection is a line of high- quality wigs and extensions that are sold in beauty supply stores and wig stores. Find the nearest location or purchase online at vivicafoxhair.com. The enterprise also donates wigs to women who have lost their own hair to cancer-related illnesses.
The Write Angle: Fox’s memoir, Every Day I’m Hustling, was released in 2018. “I share secrets from fashion to fitness to love life and offer words of inspiration. I also share some funny stories about my childhood and how I became Vivica Fox. It’s a good read and it’s on audio.”
Let’s Talk: Fox interviews celebrities on her podcast, Hustling.
Fox has a lot of good memories from her soap days. For GENERATIONS, where she played Maya, the catfight with Doreen (Jonelle Allen) is a stand-out. “Jonelle and I got into this huge argument and next thing I know they wrote a fight scene for us,” she laughs. “Our little tiff turned into an epic moment. By the time we shot the fight, she and I were friends. She came to me and was like, ‘We can’t be doing this. If I was disrespectful I apologize.’ I w as like, ‘I didn’t mean to be disrespectful to you either,’ so we hugged it out.” However, on screen, the violent showdown was a whole lot of slapping, hair pull- ing and rolling on the floor with no stunt doubles. “We did that all in one take!” Fox proudly proclaims. “It was really well choreographed. It really was. And neither one of us got hurt. It was awesome!” On GENERATIONS, Fox worked with the late Kristoff St. John (ex-Adam), and then again on Y&R where he played Neil. “I also got to work with Shemar Moore [ex-Malcolm], Victoria Rowell [ex-Drucilla] and Tonya Lee Williams [ex-Olivia],” says Fox. “I really loved Victoria. I thought she just killed Drucilla. And then, of course, Shemar Moore was just the hottest new kid on the block. We went on to do Motives and the sequel together.” Of course, the loss of St. John in 2019 hit hard. “He was truly a gentleman and a great actor who gave 100 percent,” she sighs. “We did a Christmas movie together [A CHRISTMAS CRUISE] and we were actually planning on doing a sequel. I miss my friend. I really do.”