Actress. Born Vivica Anjanetta Fox on July 30, 1964, in South Bend, Indiana. Her mother, Everlyena Fox, worked as a pharmaceutical technician, and her father, William Fox, was a school administrator. Vivica Fox’s parents divorced when she was 3 years old, and she was raised primarily by her mother. Fox describes herself as a hyperactive child whose favorite pastime was roller-skating. She attended Arlington High School in Indianapolis, where she threw herself into every after-school activity she could cram into her schedule: choir, cheerleading, volleyball, track and, especially, basketball. A 5-feet 7-inch forward, Fox played on the Indianapolis city championship basketball team in 1982. “I’m so proud of that because we worked really hard,” she recalls. “I wish we’d known then that we could go to the WNBA. But hey, then I probably wouldn’t have become an actress.”
In addition to her passion for sports, Fox also had a childhood obsession with Hollywood celebrities. “As a child,” she says, “I was fascinated with modeling, clothes and stars. I just thought, ‘Ooh, I want to do what they’re doing. That looks like fun.’ I loved Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. They were inspirations for me. They lived in California, and they got to meet great people.” Fox decided she wanted to be a performer one day when she went to see a Diana Ross concert. “I remember that concert, and that did it,” she says. By her senior year of high school at Arlington, Fox’s dreams of Hollywood stardom had taken over her life. “When I was a senior,” she remembers, “I’d get in trouble all the time because I would finish my work and immediately open movie magazines.”
A month after graduating from high school in 1982, Fox decided to move to Los Angeles to try to make it as an actress. Fox’s mother reluctantly agreed to let her daughter go and pursue her dreams. “She was only 17 years old,” Everlyena Fox recalls. “I had to pray and ask the Lord what to do. I finally realized she could be nothing here, and I released her into His care.” However, Vivica’s mother also imposed one condition: Fox had to go to school as a backup plan in case acting didn’t work out. Fox complied with her mother’s wish, attending Golden Coast College and graduating with an associate’s degree in social sciences. Fox then moved to New York to try her hand at modeling, but she returned to Los Angeles after only six months. “My modeling career just didn’t jump off,” she says. “Besides, I see myself as a West Coast girl.”
Fox got her big break in acting in true Hollywood fashion when she was literally snatched off the street by producer Trevor Walton. “I ran into this guy on Sunset Boulevard,” she says. “He was like, ‘Are you an actress?’ I said ‘No.’ He told me, ‘You’ve got a really good look and you should try acting.’ I thought he was trying to hit on me at first because you know how these devils out here are. But Trevor Walton was legit, and I fell into it.” Fox’s first role was a television commercial for Clearasil. Months of rejection then followed before she made her TV show debut in 1988 with a recurring role on the ABC drama China Beach. Fox followed that with a role on the popular daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives and a bit part as a prostitute in Oliver Stone’s 1989 Vietnam War film, Born on the Fourth of July. Fox slowly graduated to roles on more popular prime-time shows. She made appearances on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991), Beverley Hills, 90210 (1991) and Family Matters (1992), and then landed a starring role as Patti LaBelle’s daughter on the NBC sitcom Out All Night (1992-1993).
Nevertheless, Fox was discouraged by her inability to land more prominent film and television roles. “I was getting down to the last call and then sometimes they would pick a person with a bigger name,” she remembers. “That’s the politics of the business.” Fox finally landed the breakout role she coveted opposite Will Smith in the 1996 blockbuster, Independence Day. Fox played Jasmine, a loving mother who works as a stripper at night and becomes the film’s heroine when she saves the first lady from an alien invasion. Propelled by the success of Independence Day, Fox landed a series of starring roles in feature films such as Booty Call (1997), Batman & Robin (1997), Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998) and Idle Hands (1999).
Already a potent Hollywood sex symbol, Fox sought to create a more positive image with the 2001 film Two Can Play That Game. Fox portrayed Shanté Smith, an advertising executive and black female professional role model. Fox said, “What we’re trying to prove—and we’re on a mission with this film—is that you can open up a film with an African-American female and that the images can be positive.” Since then, Fox has continued to land prominent film and television roles. Her most notable recent film credits include Juwanna Mann (2002), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Ella Enchanted (2004). Fox’s notable television credits include City of Angels (2000), Alias (2004), 1-800 Missing (2004-2006) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (2007-2009). Fox also competed on the popular reality dance competition Dancing with the Stars in 2006, and she has hosted the reality TV shows Glam God with Vivica A. Fox (2008) and The Cougar (2009).
Vivica Fox married singer Christopher Harvest (who performs under the name Sixx-Nine) in 1998, and they remained married for four years before divorcing in 2002. Fox also briefly dated the rapper 50 Cent in 2003.
Now well into her 40s, Fox has developed into a well-respected actress who continues to land prominent film and television roles. And she is happier and more confident than ever. “I think the older I get, the better I look,” Fox says. “I’m spiritually very happy, and the wisdom I’ve gained with age has made me a better and stronger person.”