In 1996, a big role in the sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day introduced the world to a magnetic young actor from Indianapolis. Twenty years later—amid a career revival that has included a juicy part in the smash TV series Empire—Vivica A. Fox returns to her breakthrough character in the much-hyped sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, set for release this month. Here, Fox shares how being a Hoosier plays in Hollywood, and why she won’t vote for her former Celebrity Apprentice boss.
INTERVIEW BY EVAN WEST
After two decades, did you think you’d even see an Independence Day sequel, let alone get a part in it?
When I heard originally that Will Smith wasn’t going to come back and do it, I was like, “There goes my storyline.” Then I got the call from the director, Roland Emmerich, and he said, “Yes, you’re coming back.” I was just thrilled. I was like, “Finally, my turn is coming back!” But I had to wait for that, and in the meantime, I had to work and work on branding for the Vivica A. Fox Hair Collection and Curvy Couture by Vivica A. Fox. I went and did a couple of plays on the road. I produced stage plays. I did a lot of independent films. I kept myself busy. Because it’s a journey being in show business, and when it’s your turn to be the hot piece, you have to be there and be there gracefully, and keep working it when it’s not your turn. If it’s your turn to be the costar, you’ve got to do that gracefully, too. It’s a business of highs and lows.
Do aspiring Indiana actors have a reputation in Hollywood?
I haven’t heard anyone say bad things about people from Indiana. When I told people I was from there, they would say to me, “Oh, a good Midwestern, hardworking girl.” I was out here for four years before things happened for me, but I also went to college. It’s a tough business, one where you have to have thick skin and be used to rejection. You’ve got to knock on doors and hear “no” a lot more than “yes.”
You’ve heard more “yes” lately. How did that happen?
I’m going to tell you, doing Celebrity Apprentice was a sacrifice. That was five weeks of my life that I’ll never get back. But it so paid off. Out of 16 contestants, I made it to the top three, and everyone who saw me on Celebrity Apprentice—that’s the reason why the phones started ringing off the hook. That’s why I got Empire. It’s why I’ve just been working nonstop, literally, for the past year.
If Celebrity Apprentice gave your career a boost, does that mean you’ll be voting for Donald Trump?
Oh, no, he’s not getting my vote. I’m Hillary all day, all day, all day. I think Donald Trump is an amazing businessman. He’s been hugely successful in business. He’s awesome. He has a commanding presence. I have absolutely nothing but respect for him as a businessman and what he’s done for his family. But, as the leader of the free world? No, sir.
You talked about getting your “turn” as an actor. Do you think it’s Hillary’s turn to be president?
I think so. I mean, she’s paid her dues, and she has the experience. And also, when we get Hillary in the White House, then we get back Bill Clinton, who’s got great international relationships and respect. Man, if Donald Trump gets into office, we’re going to be getting bombed all the time, because he’ll come from meeting them and be like, “They got on my nerves.” You know what I mean? He has no filter. I just think that we need to keep looking forward, and Donald Trump, some of his views and everything, seem like they would take us backwards. We don’t need to go there.
What kind of ties have you kept with Indianapolis since moving away?
I went on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Celebrity Jeopardy!, and I won over $100,000 that I donated to my mother’s church. I recently did an episode of Unsung, where they came to Indiana and visited my high school, visited my church. My dad, my mom, my brothers, and my sisters still live there, so I always try to make sure that I stay connected to Indiana. Also, when Peyton Manning was playing there, I always cheered for the Colts, and the Pacers. I always stay connected and root for Indiana because it will always be my home base.
How did growing up in Indiana shape the person you are today?
I’m so proud to be a Hoosier and from the Midwest. I grew up on the east side, near 38th and Emerson, across the street from the church I went to, Breeding Tabernacle Methodist. I went to Arlington High School, where I graduated from. My mother raised us with simple values, and I was just glad that I got that good, Midwest upbringing, because the morals and discipline and hard-work ethic that I got being raised there have definitely served me tremendously.
Have you encountered negative perceptions of Indiana?
I believe the perception of Indiana has changed throughout the years. It used to have, like, a corn-fed, kind of country reputation. But every year that I’ve come home to Indiana, it’s changed tremendously. Downtown has grown so much. It’s definitely had a resurgence and a rebirth. Especially when the Super Bowl was held in Indiana. At first, I was like, “Oh my God, they’re going to have the Super Bowl in Indianapolis? They’re not going to be able to. It’s too much. It’s too big.” I was so proud that it was one of the most well-organized, well-run Super Bowls that I got to experience.
Do you think you’ve received your full due, in terms of stardom?
You know, it’s definitely a resurgence that’s coming around. Trust me, there’s been times that I’ve been like, “Oh my gosh, the accolades haven’t come.” But you know what? The best man doesn’t always finish first. It’s how you run the race. It’s kind of like a marathon. What is that old saying?
Slow and steady wins the race?
Yeah, slow and steady wins the race. Thank you. Your girl is still hanging in there, and there’s more to come. I always believe in keeping Indiana on the block and letting them know how much I appreciate their love and support. Their favorite homegirl is going to keep on making it do what it do. I got more to come. So stay tuned.