Vivica A. Fox has a very busy fall. Aside from hosting the reality show Prank My Mom on Lifetime (premiering October 9) and acting in the scripted CW show Mr. Box Office, she stars in the ground-breaking independent film Doctor Bello, which pairs actors famous in Nollywood—Nigerian cinema—with familiar Hollywood faces.
Fox appears alongside Isaiah Washington as well as Nollywood stars Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke in the film, which focuses on an American oncologist (Washington) who seeks the cure for cancer in Nigeria. The movie will be released in 80 theaters across Africa after November 25, and filmmakers plan to partner with independent cinemas in DC, New York City, and Atlanta for stateside showings this winter. Fox took some time out from her September 27 Kennedy Center premiere to talk shop, laugh a bit, and reveal why her latest film project is so special.
Why was it so important for you to sign up for this film?
VIVICA A. FOX: This is Nollywood, which is basically Nigerian filmmaking combined with Hollywood. It’s important for us to reach across the pond to combine our two talents together because I have a feeling that Hollywood doesn’t allow African-American actors and actresses the roles that we should be playing. I play Isaiah Washington’s wife, and we lost our daughter to cancer in the film, which then sends him out on a crusade to cure cancer. Our [characters’] relationship is at a crisis. I’ve known Isaiah for over 25 years and we had never gotten an opportunity to work together.
So how great was it to work with him?
VF: [Laughs] We were cowriting, directing each other, finding moments in the script, and massaging the script. And that’s the beauty of doing an independent film—you’re allowed a little bit more leverage to bring life to the script. So we were very happy to have that opportunity with the director, Tony [Abulu].
Did the film team reach out to you for the role, or did you reach out to them?
VF: They called me up and said that I’m huge in Africa, which is a beautiful thing, because I need them all to discover my hair line [laughs]. Not only do I want to bring my movies there, I want to bring my hair line there, I want to bring the brand of Vivica Fox across the pond. And they are just accepting me and embracing me so wonderfully, and I appreciate it. I really do.
Why should people be excited about this new project?
VF: Well, you know how we’ve got Bollywood? Now, we’ve got Nollywood. And it’s huge. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Nollywood is reportedly one of the world’s top three film industries, alongside Hollywood and Bollywood.] Because you know what, they want to see their people. They don’t want to go to a movie and see just a little sprinkle of us. They want to see us live and go through adventures.
Why is DC the place to premiere this movie, and what’s your favorite part about the city?
VF: This is the second screening I’ve had at the Kennedy Center. And I’ve never had any openings here, so I’m just so glad that the Kennedy Center is embracing Nollywood and giving us a wonderful platform, and screenings, and an audience. Every time we come, it’s a full house. So I appreciate that DC love!