August 99 Interview: Vivica A. Fox and Larenz Tate
Taking Us Behind the Scenes of Why Do Fools Fall In Love

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Interview conducted by Nasser Metcalfe
Vivica Fox

All of the cast members of Why Do Fools Fall in Love agree on one thing: Vivica A. Fox comes ready to work. Perhaps it's due to how hard she had to struggle for success. Maybe its because once she tasted success, she almost lost it forever once her big break sitcom, "Out All Night," was cancelled. Her TV-Mom, Patti LaBelle, had a flourishing singing career to return to, but Vivica had to struggle once again until she got her second chance as Will Smith's love interest in 1996's summer blockbuster Independence Day.

Whatever the reason for her drive may be, she has certainly shown her dedication today-getting up at 4A.M. to appear on "Good Morning America," followed by a steady stream of promotional appearances that last right up until she finally steps in the room for our interview, well into the afternoon. Throughout the long hours she remains personable, never harping on the fact that she didn't get to bed until midnight the night before and even taking a moment to acknowledge the reporters she knows from previous interviews. Her disarming charm seems to be part of her combination for success, along with her legendary work ethic.

"That's the thing about Vivica, she's always ready to work. She's like, 'I'm ready to work. I don't wanna hear nothing. Let's do the take, let's get it done, let's move on.' That's Vivica A. Fox," declares Larenz Tate, her co-star and obvious friend. Larenz Tate

Tate himself is no stranger to hard work. During his teens he starred on "The Royal Family," a popular TV sitcom that ended pre-maturely due to the untimely death of the show's star, legendary comedian Redd Foxx. "It was a great opportunity. I learned a lot from him." Larenz made his big screen debut in 1993's Menace II Society in which he played the notorious "O-Dog," a remorseless murderer whose boyish appearance belied his intensely violent personality. Tate also delivered stellar performances in The Inkwell, Dead Presidents, and Love Jones. He rebounded from the box-office disappointment The Postman with his eerily accurate portrayal of Frankie Lymon. "Vivica, Lela, and Halle helped me to show different sides of Frankie Lymon," he offers.

"When I first got the script, one of the first questions I asked was who was going to play Frankie Lymon," Vivica says. "When they said, 'Larenz' I was like, 'O-Dog!? But the thing I enjoyed about working with Larenz the most was that when he was [playing] the teenager he was dedicated, shaving off his moustache...and then, when he became a drug addict, he totally sacrificed himself physically and mentally. He put contacts in his eyes and stained his teeth. He didn't want to sugar-coat it, and as an artist, that's what I appreciate."

Many people wanted to know how it was for Larenz to do love scenes with three of Hollywood's hottest and most beautiful actresses. "It was definitely a pleasure because I always saw each of them being a leading lady in a film that I would be a part of. I never anticipated working with three of them at one time."

When asked to speculate on their hopes for the public's response to the film, Fox spoke candidly: "I hope it's a crossover film. I don't want people to see African-American faces on the billboard and think that it's only a Black film, or that it's just a chick-flick. This film has comedy, drama, and music-elements that are going to make it different from anything out there right now." Larenz continues, "I just want people to be thoroughly entertained and find that it's okay to fall in love-just don't be a complete fool."

Tate himself is far from a fool. His own life parallels Lymon's in the sense that both of them found fame and fortune in their teens through the entertainment business. They differ in that Frankie fell into some of the pitfalls of success, where Larenz has taken it in stride and handles it with confidence. "Fortunately, I grew up in a family that was grounded. My mother and father knew how to guide my career and look out for my best interests. Unfortunately for Frankie Lymon, he didn't really have anybody looking out for him." Among those looking out for Larenz are his brothers, Larron, a former actor turned screenwriter, and Lamar, a gifted thespian in his own right. The three brothers hope to collaborate in the not too distant future on the right project.

Both Tate and Fox are optimistic about their respective futures. Vivica's latest project was her December wedding to her leading man Six-Nine-a reference only to his height, she insists. Marriage is not on the horizon for Larenz, but he does have serious feelings for... basketball. If he's not playing with his cousin Antonio, he's going up against his homeboys Bill Bellamy and Chris Tucker. "I go over to their house and thump them out or they come to my house and I thump them out," he brags slyly.

We can expect many more great things from these two as their talents continue to grow with each successive film.

[Click here to read about Halle Berry & Lela Rochon]


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