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Unafraid of reinventing herself anew several times throughout her career, actress-producer Vivica A. Fox was seen in everything from low-brow theatrical comedies to award-winning procedural TV dramas, and continually racked up recognition from the Image Awards and Black Reel Awards for her performances. The former soap opera actress' breakout role was playing Will Smith's hardworking single mom girlfriend in the blockbuster "Independence Day" (1996), after which her subdued sexiness and authentic appeal were tapped for quality family dramas like "Soul Food" (1997) and "Kingdom Come" (2001) and quirky actioners like Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003). While Fox's reputation dipped with her many starring roles in straight-to-video titles and her increasing involvement in reality television, she maintained her integrity with steady runs on respected TV fare including Lifetime's "1-800-Missing" (Lifetime, 2003-06) and a surprise recurring stint on HBO's dry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-), both of which showcased the versatility that made her one of the most in-demand African-American actresses in Hollywood.Born July 30, 1964, Fox was raised in Indianapolis, IN. Following her graduation...
Unafraid of reinventing herself anew several times throughout her career, actress-producer Vivica A. Fox was seen in everything from low-brow theatrical comedies to award-winning procedural TV dramas, and continually racked up recognition from the Image Awards and Black Reel Awards for her performances. The former soap opera actress' breakout role was playing Will Smith's hardworking single mom girlfriend in the blockbuster "Independence Day" (1996), after which her subdued sexiness and authentic appeal were tapped for quality family dramas like "Soul Food" (1997) and "Kingdom Come" (2001) and quirky actioners like Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003). While Fox's reputation dipped with her many starring roles in straight-to-video titles and her increasing involvement in reality television, she maintained her integrity with steady runs on respected TV fare including Lifetime's "1-800-Missing" (Lifetime, 2003-06) and a surprise recurring stint on HBO's dry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-), both of which showcased the versatility that made her one of the most in-demand African-American actresses in Hollywood.
Born July 30, 1964, Fox was raised in Indianapolis, IN. Following her graduation from Arlington High School in 1982, she moved to Los Angeles with hopes of breaking into acting. After earning a degree from Golden West College, the aspiring actress was working as a waitress in a Sunset Boulevard eatery when she caught the eye of a producer who auditioned her for one of his films and helped her land an agent. She had her start with appearances on the critically-acclaimed drama "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991) and a recurring role on "Days of Our Lives" (NBC, 1965-), making her screen debut with a bit part as a hooker in Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989). She built up her résumé with guest spots on popular black sitcoms including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC, 1990-96), "Family Matters" (ABC, 1989-1997; CBS, 1997-98) and "Martin" (Fox, 1992-97) and had a brief stint playing the fashion stylist daughter of nightclub owner Patti LaBelle on "Out All Night" (NBC, 1992-93).
In 1995, she began to showcase her versatility with an appearance on the inventive drama "The Watcher" (UPN, 1995) and with a supporting role in the Emmy Award-winning HBO Original "The Tuskegee Airmen," based on the true story of the first African-American Air Force combat pilots during World War II. Her big screen profile rose with a winning performance as a fiercely devoted single mother who supports her child and herself by working as a stripper in the sci-fi blockbuster "Independence Day" (1996). She was then tapped for the Wayans Brothers' spoof "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the 'Hood" (1996) and co-starred alongside Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah as a fired bank teller who joins forces with other cash-strapped women to pull a bank job in "Set it Off" (1996). An Image Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress was forthcoming for Fox's performance as one of three rival sisters in the down-home family chronicle "Soul Food" (1997), after which the up-and-comer was tapped to play Ms. B. Haven, a moll of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze, in the horrendous sequel "Batman & Robin" (1997).
In contrast from Fox's strong dramatic showings, she retreated to broad comedy with the feature "Booty Call" (1997), and played the female lead in Arsenio Hall's short-lived sitcom, "Arsenio" (ABC, 1997), which failed to attract viewers and was cancelled after few airings. In the TV movie "Solomon" (PAX, 1997) Fox essayed the Queen of Sheba and turned around to give a strong performance as one of three wives with a claim on the estate of deceased pop star Frankie Lymon in Gregory Nava's otherwise unsatisfying feature drama "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" (1998). Off-screen, Fox wed her own vocalist the same year, tying the knot with rapper Christopher Harvest, a.k.a. Sixx-Nine. Then, in her first foray into family film, Fox co-starred opposite David Alan Grier in Disney's body-swapping comedy "A Saintly Switch" (1999) before turning out a pair of moderate comedy horror hits with "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999) and "Idle Hands" (1999).
Seemingly having lost her footing from her promising start in quality feature films, Fox returned to television with a recurring role on the sitcom "The Hughleys" (ABC, 1998-2000; UPN, 2000-02) and as the earnest medical director of an inner-city Los Angeles hospital on Steven Bochco's African-American medical drama "City Of Angels" (CBS, 2000), which was unceremoniously cancelled despite its sizable following. She portrayed an early girlfriend of music legend Jimi Hendrix in the Showtime movie "Hendrix" (2000) and was nominated for another Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as the loving wife of a recovered alcoholic (LL Cool J) in "Kingdom Come" (2001), an ensemble dramedy about a family coming together following the death of a not particularly loved patriarch. The same year, Fox starred as a self-possessed advertising executive engaged in a battle of the sexes with erring boyfriend Morris Chestnut in the light romantic comedy "Two Can Play That Game" (2001), which was a moderate success at the box office and earned Fox a Best Actress nomination from the Black Reel Awards. She followed up with an Image Award nomination for portraying a WNBA player and teammate of a masquerading NBA player (Miguel A. Nuñez Jr.) in the comedy "Juwanna Mann" (2002). Around this same time, she was seen around town with a new man of her own, rapper 50 Cent.
Fox gave one of her most charismatic performances as the hard-hitting Vernita Green, one of the cadre of assassins marked for retribution by The Bride (Uma Thurman), in writer-director Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003). She earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Black Reel Awards for that performance and followed up with the wildly different feature "Ella Enchanted" (2004), playing the fairy who gives a young girl (Anne Hathaway) the gift - and eventual curse - of obedience at birth. In 2004, Fox also hosted "VH1's Hip-Hop Honors" and made her feature film-producing debut with the thriller "Motives" (2004). She spent the following two years on the primetime lineup as a star (and co-executive producer) of the Lifetime Television series "1-800-Missing" (Lifetime, 2003-06), on which she played a tough-minded FBI agent assigned to a task force to find missing persons. Her strong showing earned Fox a pair of Image Award nominations and a win in 2006. In the meanwhile, she also appeared as a judge on the reality show "The Starlet" (The WB, 2005), which pitted a house full of aspiring actresses against one another to become the next famous face.
While doing double-duty on "Missing" and "Starlet," Fox also maintained her film career, acting as producer as well as star of the neighborhood comedy "Salon" (2005) and the straight-to-video release "Getting Played" (2006), a romantic comedy about three jaded women who prank unsuspecting men. Following the cancellation of "Missing," Fox made her second reality TV appearance as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Fox impressed the judges with her combination of grace and sex appeal, earning respectable and improving scores - particularly for her Dorothy Dandridge-inspired tango - during her first few weeks of competition. In 2007, Fox joined the sixth season of Larry David's improvisational hit "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000), earning an Image Award nomination for playing a woman whose family is displaced by a hurricane and who is subsequently taken into the home of Larry and Cheryl David, only to turn into an unexpected romantic partner of Larry's after he and his wife separate.
In 2007, Fox also appeared in over half a dozen features, ranging from the sequels "Three Can Play That Game" and "Motives 2" to the murder thriller "Cover," but quality screen roles eluded her, as evidenced by her casting as a drill sergeant in the Jessica Simpson vehicle "Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous" (2009). Fox curiously decided to return to reality television, much to the disappointment of her longtime fans, serving as producer and host of "Glam God with Vivica A. Fox" (VH1, 2008), a show where 12 stylists compete to get their hands on an A-list star, and TV Land's embarrassing "The Cougar" (TV Land, 2009), which sought to find a suitable mate for an "older" woman. That same year she appeared in two mob-related big screen comedies, "Hollywood and Wine" with David Spade and "Shark City" with Corey Haim.
By Susan Clarke
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