"A New Diva's Christmas Carol" Star Vivica A. Fox Was Shocked By Ashanti's Voice On Set – But In The Best Possible Way
With more than 70 movies under her belt, it's safe to say Vivica A. Fox is a household name in Hollywood! From classic films like Soul Food and Set It Off to action box-office hits like Kill Bill and Training Day, Vivica has played just about every role you can think of.
Now she's got jingle bells on her mind! To celebrate the release of her new VH1 holiday film A New Diva's Christmas Carol with Ashanti, Eva Marcille, Mel B, and Robin Givens, we sat down with the industry vet to learn more about how the film came together, her favorite holiday traditions, and so much more!
THEN: Mariah Carey might be the queen of Christmas music, but you are definitely the queen of Christmas movies. You’ve made a slew of holiday films since 2011, starting with A Holiday Heist. What has been the most fulfilling part about making these holiday films?
Being deemed the Queen of Christmas films, to be very honest with you. I've had so many people that hit me up on Twitter or on Instagram like, "I've been watching you all day, Vivica, and I love all your movies! I've just been binge-watching them with my family." That really just shows me that my library of films are enjoyable to binge-watch.
NOW: They truly are! Your latest holiday film is called A New Diva’s Christmas Carol, a sequel to VH1’s 2000 film A Diva’s Christmas Carol. It’s a fun, musical spin to Charles Dickens’s classic A Christimas Carol. Tell us about your character and what attracted you to this role.
I play Bastia, which is one of three sister spirits that come to visit Aphrodite, who's played by the beautiful Ashanti. My favorite part is that your four lead casts are African American women, so there's a whole lot of Black girl magic that's going to be coming to this Christmas classic. We also have another sister that's in there, Mel B, who hosts Ashanti's show in the film. It's also executive produced by the handsome Idris Elba. So, I love the fact that we have all of this Black excellence and that we were able to capture all of this movie magic. The movie was directed by Rusty Cundieff, and it was just a wonderful experience. It was different than any Christmas film I've done.
When you first heard about the film, did you instantly want to play Bastia, or did any of the other characters entice you?
I received a direct offer from VH1, and I feel they cast the film excellently. When you've got four lead actresses, for there to be nobody who turned into a diva, and for us create this chemistry when we made this film in August, we truly captured that magic in a bottle. We worked long hours. I mean, sometimes we would get off 5 a.m., 6 a.m. — the latest I think we got off was 6:45 a.m. That's when I finally went, "OK, we almost spent the night." But everyone was very supportive of one another and just wanted to make it happen. And here we are! You all will finally get to see what we did.
THEN: In the spirit of the film, what is your favorite holiday film of the past and present. And what type of holiday film would you like to see made in the future?
From the past, it would be It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. That's a classic to me. The present: This Christmas, starring Chris Brown. [Vivica begins to sing "This Christmas" by Chris Brown.] I want to do it, but I'm not going to mess up his song [laughs]. And in the future, I'd love to see A New Diva's Christmas Carol, Part Two.
Who would you like to see star in it?
This is what's the beautiful thing about the sisters spirits — we can take the story anywhere. We can get a male singer next time and help him air his lil' ways and help him all the things that are offered to folks nowadays with Instagram and TikTok. That would be really fun!
NOW: A New Diva's Christmas Carol is stacked with incredible talent. What was one of your favorite behind-the-scenes memories with the cast?
One of my favorite was hearing Ashanti sing live. Most times when singers sing, it's usually to a soundtrack or a pre-recorded track. But she played the piano and sang it live, and when she finished we were all like, "Damn, Ashanti can sang sang!" I mean, we just saw her recently blow away the national anthem [before the Big 12 Championship game between Kansas State and TCU]. I was like, "Wow, she's got some pipes!"
Her mother is hilarious, by the way. She's Ashanti's biggest fan. Before Ashanti even sang the song, her mom said, "What's up? You ain't bringing it." She didn't realize this was the part in the film where Ashanti's character isn't really into the song. So then her mom went, "Oh, because I know my child can sing better than that." So then when she did really sing it, we were just kind of blown away! Her mom said, "That's more like it!"
THEN: Because you’ve been on so many Christmas sets, have you ever taken home any props as a memento?
I mean, we always get so many presents. We walked in our trailer one day, and there was this beautiful flower arrangement that, had I not been going from Canada to London to do my next project, I would have taken with me. They were these beautiful papier mâché–like roses made. Yeah, I'm going to be posting that real soon up on my Instagram page, because I've never seen flowers done like that before. But it made sense because we were filming and on set a lot, so when we came into our trailers we were greeted with this beautiful arrangement. Idris also gifted us with his new skincare line (S'Able Labs). I was like, "Go on, Idris!"
NOW: What’s something you learned about Ashanti and Mel B that might surprise people?
Unfortunately, I didn't get to film with Mel B, but with Ashanti, it was how good she could sing and how beautiful she is in person. I mean there were times where I would just look at her like, "She's really, really pretty." It also might surprise people that she doesn't eat meat. She tried to show me videos about it, and I said, "Look here, girl, I ain't got no problem eating meat. I'm gonna tear me some crab up. And I might have a piece of bacon every once a while, so you stay over there with your vegan self."
THEN: You and co-star Eva Marcille have been friends for quite a long time. What do you cherish most about your friendship?
That I've got to watch Eva Marcille evolve into a wonderful actress, a beautiful mother, and a caring girlfriend. A girlfriend who I've known forever, who hasn't got caught up, and who loves to make me smile. Whenever we'd have the weekends off, she'd be like, "Girl, let's go do something! We're gonna go to Montreal. Come on, girl. Let's go to New York — I'm hosting this show for Fashion Week." She's just fun. We recently got to go to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday, and we went to the Usher concert and a spa. She flew on a private — Eva the Diva is fabulous!
NOW: What was it like going into this process with her? Did you two run lines together or do anything one-on-one to prepare?
Constantly! That's why I said I've watched her evolve into a wonderful actress, because not only was she doing our film — she was preparing to go tape Tyler Perry's All the Queen's Men. She was prepping to do, like, 16 episodes. Next time, when I saw her for her birthday a couple of months later, she had finished it. I was like, "First of all, girl, you got that!" She also did a soap opera before, which she consulted with me about. She asked me if she should do The Young and the Restless, and I said, "Absolutely! It's the best experience to learn memorization and to learn to hit your marks." It's like going to acting school and getting paid.
So, while we were filming, we stayed in these beautiful condos. They had a movie theater there, and they said we could use it whenever we wanted, so she would go in there and just dig into those new scripts. She's just amazing. Love me some Eva the Diva, I do. A lot of people nowadays think that they can swipe to success and don't want to do the work. That girl is a worker bee. She reminds me of myself. Maybe that's why I admire her [laughs].
THEN: Tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories.
Gosh, I have a ritual that I do every year with my godchildren. Then I go to the hot springs, and then go into my business manager's place to binge-watch the NBA games. I finish it off with a Uno tournament and fish fry at my assistant Darren Bond's house. But I think the best one that I had was with my business partner Lita Richardson. She loved her grandmother so much. And the last year that we got to spend with her before she passed away was just magical, because it was all about family. Yeah, that was special to me.
NOW: What do you hope fans take away from A New Diva’s Christmas Carol?
Baby, if you want to see a beautiful Christmas movie with four of your favorite artists who work together for the very first time, and some Black girl magic, check out A New Diva's Christmas Carol. It's full of great singing, great acting, beautiful women with beautiful costumes, and just overall Black excellence! Put on your onesie, get you a nice hot chocolate, gather the family around the TV screen.