Actress Elise Neal (The Hughleys, All Of Us), Claudia Jordan (Deal Or No Deal) and Melyssa Ford (video vixen) are coming together for the new reality show Single, Sexy & Starving. Focusing on their quest to find Mr. Right.
Will you watch?
Elise sat down with bet.com to chat about the show…
Can you give us a general synopsis of your reality show with Claudia Jordan and Melyssa Ford?
The show – it’s our pilot – it’s basically myself, Claudia Jordan and Melyssa Ford giving you a different view of Black women in Hollywood. All three of us have different careers in Hollywood and [the show] gives you an in depth look at the day to day of what’s like when you’re working with people that you compete with but are also friendly with. [It shows] us doing photo shoots and going to events, and also [what it’s like] just trying to make your own way and your own mark with your own special talent. Even though people like to lump us together and say, “Oh they’re all the same only one may be a little a bit darker, or one may be a little bit lighter,” we all usually have different goals and different views on what being in Hollywood and what being a woman of color in Hollywood means.
So there won’t be any dating aspects to the show? I remember reading somewhere that the show would incorporate some of those elements?
Yeah, that was probably someone who didn’t know what the show was about [laughing]. It’s definitely about women in Hollywood trying to have careers, going forward, trying to brand, us on set, us doing things that are more so about our careers. Now we’re all still people — you know what I mean? So, if you’re doing anything about the aspects of someone’s life their personal lives will come into play but it’s not about that.
Did you have a relationship with Melyssa and Claudia before or were you all paired together for the project?
A: Claudia and I have been very good friends for the last couple of years. Melyssa is someone who I’ve known for quite some time in the industry, but doing a show together like anything I’ve ever done – a movie, a TV show – brings us closer together and gives me a better understanding of who she is as a person. All of us know each other in a different way after working with each other.
Does it feel good to be the first to really offer this sort of introspective look at what it means to be a Black actress working in Hollywood?
I’m really looking forward to it. I try not to put my ducks in a row until they’re 110 percent. As you know, it’s still in pilot form. I’d like to see when we end up on air, I’d like to see what kind of things we really tap into as we move forward, and that we can really get into the issues that everyone has on their mind.
Is there any time frame audiences can expect the show to air?
We’ve already shot the pilot so you’d have to speak to the executives to know air dates. Everything is tentative until it’s already on the air. I don’t want to jinx anything or talk like I know too much. Basically I’m really excited about what our possibilities could be with the three of us and what we all want to do. And hopefully we’ll have many years to do that.
As an actress you’re taking part in the sort of “reality craze,” that suggests you don’t share the aversion to it like some of your fellow actresses who feel reality television takes work away from actors. That said, since you’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you’ve wanted to get more into production do you see reality TV as a benefit and not a detriment the way some do?
You know it’s always a thing. It’s funny because my representatives and I had a long talk about me being involved with reality and, honestly, it’s still an ongoing talk. Some people view it as a step in the wrong direction. I believe that I can do whatever I want to do and carve out a career for myself that I think would be good. For me, as a person whose down pretty much everything – music video, performing on live stages all over the country and all over the world before I became an actress – I’ve always been a person who likes to do different things and show all sides of myself. I believe doing something like reality TV gives people an opportunity to see who I am… not as a character but who I am. A lot of people successfully do both and if you’re not doing something silly and crazy – which this show isn’t – then I think it’s really okay.
You’ve been working on the micro-series My Manny with TBS. Could you tell us more about that and what’s your take on micro-programming? Is this your way of expressing an openness to trying new ideas?
For me, if I can get the opportunity to do something that’s new, that’s fresh — like the reality show — I’ll do it. When they presented me the opportunity to star in my own show – which is what My Manny was, an opportunity to star in my own show as a woman of color – it’s very special. That was one of the biggest selling points to me – being able to do something that a lot of times Hollywood doesn’t allow many black women to do, which is star in their own show.
What is the status of the reality show based on your girl group, Assorted Flavors?
That was never a reality show that was going on based on the group. I think for me doing the one with Claudia and Melyssa will allow me to show my day-to-day which includes me working with the girls of Assorted Flavors.
Last year Tony Rock made some pointed comments about LisaRaye. There was always debate over the reasons why you left All of Us? I’m not sure you want to completely revisit that, but if you could would you mind explaining to fans of the show the real reason why you left the series?
Well, the first thing about that is what a lot of people thought really upset me, honestly. TV is television and sometimes the people who own the program make decisions and the decision was a financial decision. All of Us was supposed to be canceled in its second season. It was supposed to be done so the network. The executives made a decision – whether the fans liked it or not – to trim the show. They changed the location, they cut the budget in half, and their take on it was that they wanted it to still go on. I think Duane really wanted it to still go on so the network made a decision to make it go on.
Now, [after] we had already been told that the show was being canceled [I started working on] Hustle and Flow. I already had all of these commitments to Hustle and Flow and I had already started looking for other opportunities. Basically, after that season I left because they cut the budget and that was basically it. And I went right to work on K-Ville with Anthony Anderson, who I worked with previously on Hustle and Flow [and that show] was all about Katrina and giving back to that community, so I was down in New Orleans for a year-and-a-half.
So I guess people were like, “Where’s Elise in this situation?” and there wasn’t a lot of discussion and I think people had this whole me not liking LisaRaye and it so wasn’t that. I’m not that petty, it was kind of ridiculous. It had nothing to do with me not liking her or her not liking me. It was a network decision to keep the show on. And let’s keep it real – me being on television for 9 years – I had a big salary and they couldn’t cut it [laughing], they couldn’t do it and keep the show on and that’s the honest truth about what happened.
Do you look at the state of Black programming on network TV and feel a bit disheartened or do you take comfort in cable still offering that possibility for there to be more shows?
Well, there’s not as much on network television, and that’s why I think it’s great that [cable] is forcing us to open our minds and change the channel a little bit. I think sometimes people are like, “Oh I don’t see you on this network or I don’t see you following this show” and it’s like well I’m on the next network if you just channel surf a little bit. I think it’s making us open our minds a little and try to follow us. They haven’t made it as easy, where [previously] it was easy to see us with one show airing after another. Now you’re going to have do your homework to find some of the new programming and really follow us to help people stay on the air.