Whether you’ve been a fan since her “I Wanna Be Bad” pop stardom, or you watched her disappear in a lake in Friday the 13th, the Willa Ford fans will meet this Sunday on E!’s Flip It Like Disick will be same Willa — just with a different art form.
The 38-year-old, who rose to fame in the 2000s among an iconic class of female pop stars — Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson — traded in her mic and acting gigs to storm the design world with her all-female construction crew. After establishing her own interior design firm, W Ford Interiors, in 2012, Ford got a call from Scott Disick that landed her in his motley crew of design experts on a mission to flip the house remodeling game on its head.
Ahead of Flip It Like Disick‘s premiere, we sat down with Ford to discuss what led her to interior design, what it’s really like to work with Lord Disick and the craziest celebrity house flipping requests fans will get to see on the show.
PEOPLE: You’ve spoken about why you decided to leave your music career behind. How did you know interior design would be your next step?
Ford: I had always loved design and was passionate about it, so changing my career started super organically. I had just turned 30 and I was co-designing the house I was living in at the time in Texas, and having the best time doing it. It started to fulfill me in a way that I missed since I hadn’t been creating music. Then, fortunately and unfortunately, I was going through a divorce and I think when you go through a life-changing event like that, you start to reevaluate what you’re doing.
During that time, I flew back to Los Angeles and was still acting until I realized I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t admitting to myself that something was wrong. I started decorating my house from the move back to L.A. and started to help friends with their homes. Before I knew it, people were sharing the work I had done with others until it started to become an all-consuming job. I had a moment when I stopped and realized — this is what I do now. The next step I took was to create my own design firm, which I ran by myself for the first two years. People might see the show and think, this is a random quick pivot, but this hasn’t been a quick pivot for me. I’ve been grinding with my company since 2012.
Had you worked on any celebrity homes prior to the show?
I did Tom Higgenson from the Plain White T’s Malibu property and also did Jonathan Bennett’s home in West Hollywood. I’ve also worked on Andrelton Simmons’ Orange County home and a couple of other retired athletes, as well.
After you established your business, how did you get involved with the show?
Scott and I had previously worked on a smaller project, then we reconnected. He called and told me that he was flipping homes and how there was going to be a show involved. He asked if I felt comfortable being a part of it. After thinking long and hard about it, I knew it was a fantastic opportunity. It was perfect timing because we’re so solid as a firm now that I knew my team could carry on without me on Sundays while I filmed.
How did the rest of the cast come together?
Well, there’s Scott — everybody knows Scott. This show is definitely going to turn what you know about him. He’s more of a business guy on the show and he is hilarious and witty. Then, you’ve got Miki Mor, who is the contractor and has worked with Scott on projects in the past. You’ve got Benny Luciano, who owns a luxury car dealership and helps with real estate. He’s also Scott’s best friend. I was brought into the group to help elevate the designs for each home.
It’ll be interesting to watch how I fit into this group of guys, but I was lucky because there were two other women on the team. Benny’s wife Kozet is a real estate agent and helps us buy and sell the homes. She’s also hilarious and puts Benny and Scott in check, which I am so here for. And finally, you’ve got Lindsay Diamond, who is, God bless her, Scott’s assistant. She’s a go-getter, always in a good mood and so great to be around.
Would you say your personalities balance each other out or do you clash more often than get along?
We’re all over the place. We’re all so different. I will tell you that Benny and Scott are really … their relationship is its own thing. They’re like two brothers, so they can go from being good to bad. Miki and Benny have very big personalities. They are monsters. I feel like Miki can’t even read a story to a child without screaming. Then, I like to say I’m not bossy, but I’m really adamant about what I know and trying to make sure that everybody is aligned and is functioning properly. I’m all about efficiency. Sometimes that’s not the first thing on all the guys’ minds. That’s where the clashes can happen with us.
What are you most excited for the fans to see?
The reveals are pretty phenomenal. It’ll be exciting for them to see higher-end projects done in ways they’ve never seen before on a home show. I’m also excited for them to see the creativity. We did do a little more minimalism because I think we’re in a market that’s pretty saturated with over-accessorizing. I think fans will love watching Scott and the rest of the team grow throughout the season as we try and figure out our coworker relationships.
I can’t give too much away but there’s some really dope stuff going on, like pods being built. It’s pretty insane. Plus, you’ll see the Kardashians popping in and out.
What’s it really like working with Scott? Is he different on the show compared to who he is in real life?
It’s funny and I hate to say it but I haven’t really tuned into his [reality TV] journey so I’m not as familiar with the Scott fans might know from TV. I can only speak from a place of him being a client and a friend.
For me as a designer, Scott has a definite point of view. He is very well-educated on design. He is constantly looking at what’s happening out there and wanting to put himself in it. On the show, Scott is the leader of our pack. He tells us what needs to be done and how it needs to be executed. At times, he mediates when things aren’t going so well. He has a strong personality but also steps back and lets everybody do what they need to do. Who you see on the show is who he is because we’re not just flipping homes for TV — this is the real thing.
Right now, we don’t even know if we have a season 2 because we have to wait, but he’s already looking for the next house flip. There are days that I’m helping him at his house and I’m not on camera when he’s talking about other designs that have nothing to do with the show. He’s really the same person. He can be more laid-back in person at times, but I really think that the show captures that, too.
What do you think fans will be surprised to learn about you from watching the show?
I think they might be surprised to learn that I’m such a hard grinder. I’m up at 5 a.m., and I’m grinding until midnight.
With Flip It Like Disick premiering and your debut album, Willa Was Here, coming up on its 20-year anniversary, wouldn’t now be a great time to release new music?
Oh yeah, if I was planning to — but no. There’s no possibility or way right now that I would even have a second to spare to have a music career. This is wholeheartedly what I do, and I own an interior design firm. I have employees that depend on me. I love it and have a great time doing it. I really think that music was such an incredible journey, and it’s what led me to where I am now, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Do you think you may change your mind in the future?
If you asked me 18 years ago, when I was a pop singer, if I was going to be an interior designer, I would have said, “No way.” You’re asking me about a future music career and right now, and I’m saying, “No way.”
Do you keep in touch with any of the other singers you came up with during your music career?
We haven’t. When you’re that young and you’re working that hard constantly, you don’t always recognize what type of network you’re a part of at the time. You were just in it.
I’m still friends with a few people because we’re moms now, and we’ve bumped into each other at mom events. Beverley Mitchell and I have always stayed in contact because we played on the same team at an ‘NSYNC charity event and Lacey Chabert is one of my favorite humans, ever. We all just do the same thing that every other mom does: have lots of wine, tell each other to breathe and continue living.
You’ve performed in front of huge crowds, you’ve been on TV and in movies, but do you feel like the docuseries side of TV makes you more nervous as you embark on this different type of path than you’re used to?
I think if I had been on a docuseries in my 20s or even early 30s, it would have made me more nervous, but it doesn’t make me nervous now because I am so firm in who I am. I am a Christian, so I always know that I have God. I always know that I have my family and my company. Nothing can take those things away because those are things that I have built from the ground up. I feel confident in saying that I love my life right now.
If you can sum up Flip It Like Disick in just a few words, what would you say about it and why should fans tune in?
It’s an incredible journey with incredible personalities showing something that I don’t think TV has seen.