Molly Lambert talks to actress Vivica A Fox about her new book, ‘Every Day I’m Hustling’
Your new book is part memoir, part self-help book. The throughline seems to be that you are ambitious and love to multitask. How many different things are you doing at the moment?
I’ve got a talk show coming out, produced by Dr Phil. I’m back on Empire. I’m in Sharknado 6. The Vivica A. Fox Hair Collection has been picked up for another four years. I think that’s all. Oh, and I do Christmas movies too.
So why did you decide to write a book?
My agent asked me to. I thought, If you were to do a book, what would you like to do a book about? And I said, well, you know, I’m a woman now in my 50s, and I’m kind of like a phoenix. Whenever they count me out, I always have a tendency to kind of rise back up from the ashes.
What was the process like?
I wrote it with a man named Kevin Carr O’Leary. He and I would talk on the phone every weekend for a couple of months. When I was in New York doing an event, I said, ‘I want to meet you. Let’s have dinner.’ We met at Philippe, and my publicist said, ‘There goes your writer.’ And I said, ‘Where?’ It was this little white guy. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I thought you were black all this time.’ I knew he was gay, but I thought he was black because he just knew the slang; he knew the whole thing. Then he goes, ‘Well, are you disappointed?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not.’
You write about how you’re in that weird in-between zone where you can’t get cast as someone’s mom because you’re too hot and you can’t get cast as the hot girl because —
I’m too old.
But does it feel as if women are stepping up in Hollywood to take control?
It’s a long time coming. Usually we’re, like, 35 when they start asking: ‘How old is she getting? OK, we’re done with her. Where’s the next thing?’ I have always admired grown women from Tina Turner to Angela Bassett to Pam Grier to Sophia Loren — they just were like fine wine and kept getting better with time.
It seems that you’ve worked to have this sisterhood of actresses you admire and try to support.
Especially in a business that’s very catty.
And very prone to pitting women against one another.
Exactly. For the first time since I’ve been doing this, women are having opportunities that we would have never had — directing, producing, starring, everything. It’s a good time for us. But sometimes when I go to watch TV, it bothers me, those reality shows where the main objective is for women to just rip one another to shreds.
You recently saw Black Panther with Angela Bassett, one of the movie’s stars. Do you think its success will dispel the notion that movies by and about black people don’t do well overseas? That’s what Hollywood executives have claimed.
How does music and clothing and basically everything that we do fare so well overseas but not movies? Really?
Do you feel optimistic about black Hollywood’s future?
I’m just glad that now we have an opportunity to do our own projects and not be told how we walk and talk. When I did Two Can Play That Game years ago, I had to fight for everything: the way we loved each other, the way we spoke to each other, down to the cars, down to the way we dressed.
You campaigned for Hillary Clinton, but you were also on Celebrity Apprentice during the years that Donald Trump was on it. Did you have any idea at the time?
No. Well, I did know that he wanted to run for president.
Were you thinking, that’s like my Sharknado co-star Ian Ziering wanting to be president?
I thought it was like another notch on his belt. It’s like building another building to him. He had no idea what it is to be president of the United States.
Do you think he’d be happier on reality TV?
Yeah. He should go back. We should do a show, The Ex-President No One Likes.
Molly Lambert is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles and a columnist for New York Times magazine