Vivica A. Fox has taken on many public personas throughout the years, both in front of and behind the camera and as the driving force behind a thriving wig line.
But as the famed actress talked about her new autobiography, “Every Day I’m Hustling,” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in northeast D.C., the audience got a peek into the Indianapolis native’s commitment to family and philanthropic side in a no-holds-barred conversation with minister, businesswoman and activist Marcia L. Dyson.
Fans took it all in at the July 13 event, co-hosted by Solid State Books.
On the advice of friend and publicist BJ Coleman, who convinced her that she had a story to tell, Fox approached her autobiography as a “motivational memoir,” detailing the trials of a woman in her 50s who could talk about success and failure, determination and the importance of family.
“I always felt I had to be so perfect,” Fox said. “In that trap of perfection, I lost me. My goal is to let you know that I understand that it is hard to become successful and even harder to maintain success.”
Fox primarily credits her work ethic to her mother, Everylena Fox. The youngest child of divorced parents, Fox talks about how her mother raised the family in West Point, Miss., working two jobs and still ensuring her four children had completed their homework.
When playing with her older siblings, Fox would get knocked down, then go crying to her father. He gave her a piece of wisdom she has lived by for five decades and inspired the title for her book’s first chapter: “If you want to hang with the big boys, you’re gonna get knocked down. It’s on you to get up.”
Those lessons from her parents helped Fox cope with career disappointments, including the cancellation of early 1990s NBC television show “Out All Night,” on which Fox was a co-star with Patti LaBelle and Morris Chestnut. A stunned and dismayed Fox was consoled by LaBelle, who told her she would be fine and would get another job.
The conversation soon turn to more salacious topics, as Dyson dug in to what many audience members at the Atlas wanted to hear.
“You know the hustle is a game we have to play in business and other avenues,” Dyson begins. “The hustle is also a dance, so who has stepped in the name of love with this hustle game?”
That was the cue for “spilling the tea” about Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the famed rapper and former Fox paramour.
“Why is this still being discussed?” Fox said is the oft-asked question about their relationship, which ended more than a decade ago. She said she always has tried to be protective of Jackson and the only reason she wrote about the relationship in the book is because of a media misquote.
“I address it because I wanted to provide clarity,” she said. “I messed up. I love him and there will always be a special place in my heart for him.”
Fans also wanted to hear about Donald Trump and Fox’s time on the president’s former reality TV competition “The Apprentice.”
Fox said she went on “The Apprentice” because she respected Trump as a businessman and wanted to demonstrate that she was a serious entrepreneur. Further, she knew appearances on the show had boosted the careers of a few past contestants.
“He’s excellent at branding, but not qualified to be president,” said Fox, who campaigned for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. “We’ve got to pay attention. Your vote does count.”
Fox, who has been in show business now for half her life, said she found mentors such as Queen Latifah and Sean “Diddy” Combs and has in turn become a mentor to others. In the Hollywood community of Black actresses, it is a true sisterhood, she said.
“We are all extremely close and supportive of each other 100 percent,” Fox said. “It’s a very competitive field that we are in, but the reason you see so many successful films and television shows produced, starring and directed by African-American women is because of that sisterhood.”
But what Fox said truly gives her immense joy is when she is dressed down and sans makeup, spending time with her godchildren.
“For 2018, my mantra is ‘live, love, laugh!’” she said. “I’ve been on the treadmill of success for a long time. I really feel that finally in my life, I am happy in the skin I’m in.”