When Vivica A. Fox was offered the opportunity to host the new true crime series The Interrogation Room, she jumped at the chance. “I’ve always loved these kinds of shows so much that I had to stop watching them before I went to sleep because they would creep into my dreams!” she tells Closer. “So, when they contacted me, I was like, ‘I love it!’ ”
This new show takes viewers behind the scenes of what happens when investigators apprehend a suspect and sit them down for questioning. “I was like, ‘I’m going to play detective again,’” says Vivica, 59, who has played law enforcement officers in her long and varied career. “I loved to be able to put my detective hat back on.”
Did any of the cases you cover in The Interrogation Room affect you emotionally?
“Yes, several. The young African American man who was killed for playing the music too loud. To see the bravery and the courage of his father, who works to prevent crimes like this from happening in the future really affected me. Another episode that really blew me away was the guy that thought he could just [kill] his girlfriend because she didn’t want him — that one makes you think about who you let get close to you.”
Of course, you are best known as an actress. Did you always want to act?
“No. Acting fell into my life. I’m from the Midwest. I used to always do the talent shows, but I was an athlete more than anything else. Growing up I played basketball, volleyball and I was a cheerleader.”
How did you wind up in California?
“I went to Golden West College [in Huntington Beach, California] I graduated with a degree in social sciences to make my momma happy. I don’t know what that would have gotten me a job in, but she was happy. But I started off modeling.”
And you were on Soul Train!
“Yes, at Soul Train, you stood in line and they pick people to come in. You’d be there all day, and your whopping reward was a little Kentucky Fried Chicken box for lunch! I don’t think we got paid. But I became a regular there. After I made it as an actress, [Soul Train host and creator] Don Cornelius became a very good friend of mine. I also hosted several Soul Train Awards. It was like a dream come true.”
How did you start acting?
“I was discovered by a gentleman by the name of Trevor Walton. I was having lunch with my girlfriend, and he just walked up. He looked very normal and had on a little tennis outfit. He says, ‘Are you an actress? Can I give you my card? I have a project that I think you’d be great for.’ He was legit, and I went on an audition. He opened up the doors to my acting career.”
What did your parents think about you becoming a full-time actress?
“My mother was scared. But the family’s always been very proud and supportive through the good, bad and the ugly. They are like, ‘You’re still our Angie’ — because my middle name is Anjanetta. Growing up people couldn’t pronounce Vivica, so I’d always say, ‘Just call me Angie.’”
Your name is unique.
“It wasn’t until a casting director — I went in and said, ‘You can just call me Angie.’ She goes, ‘Your name is Vivica. You have a beautiful name. You should be Vivica A. Fox and people will never forget it.’”
Ha! What was the moment when you felt you’d finally made it as an actor?
“It’s happened a couple times because I’ve been famous and then not very famous and then famous again. The first eureka moment for me was the Two Can Play That Game premiere. Getting out of the limo that night and seeing ‘starring Vivica A. Fox.’ I made myself stop, look and enjoy the moment.”
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?
“Have patience. Because when I first started acting, I was on the treadmill of success. You do a project that you don’t even really enjoy and you’re already looking for the next one. No time to sit down, smell the roses and breathe. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Do you feel like you have better balance in your life today?
“I’m learning. I used to be such a workhorse that I did six projects back-to-back. Now I call my agent and say I need time off. I love spending time with my family and traveling. I just recently went to Paris, where I got to see Beyoncé in concert. It was so epic.”
What’s the best part of being the age you are now?
“I am having the best time in my life right now. I got rid of a lot of negative people and negative energy in my life. I’m really at peace. I never ever thought in this part of my career, being a woman in my 50s, that I would be so busy and so blessed.”
Did you have to make any sacrifices for your career?
“Not having children. But it’s OK because I have six godchildren. They wear me out!”
Was there ever a point where you had to choose between career and kids?
“I almost got married to a gentleman. I was going to move to Atlanta and start a family. But the gentleman ended up not being the right one for me. My family was like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Be happy!’ So that made me refocus on my career. All kinds of wonderful doors started opening up for me as a producer and a filmmaker, so I made peace with it.”
Are you dating?
“I wish. It would be nice for me to meet someone that’s mature because I always get the young guys that are after me. I’m like, ‘Baby, you do know how old I am?’”
Well, you look amazing!
“Thank you. I used to be such a social butterfly, trying to make everyone happy besides myself. Usually, I take 30 people with me to Jamaica for my birthday. This year, I’m doing a Me birthday. I’m going to spend that money on a nice watch or a nice piece of jewelry for myself. But mainly I just want to go somewhere, get massages, not answer to anyone and just do me.”