The Stunning Transformation Of Vivica A. Fox

With over 230 TV and movie credits to her name — plus a respected businesswoman and writer to boot – Vivica A. Fox is a force to reckon with. As the title of her memoir succinctly puts it, "Every Day I'm Hustling." But fame and fortune were no easy feat for the multitalented star. From a young age, she has been working hard to reach the esteemed level she now finds herself at, girlbossing her way from Indianapolis to California and then New York, before making her mark on Hollywood.

Famed for depicting empowered women, she has no time for cinematic stereotypes. Equally, in her private life she takes no shade from anyone, and is keen to combat ageist bigotry associated with women of a certain age. Subsequently, as the star reaches her 60th year, she continues to use her fame for good, proving a positive role model for women. "Usually we're, like, 35 when they start asking: 'How old is she getting? O.K., we're done with her. Where's the next thing?'" she told The New York Times. "I have always admired grown women from Tina Turner to Angela Bassett to Pam Grier to Sophia Loren — they just were like fine wine and kept getting better with time." And aging like a fine wine she is.

Let's find out where the star gleaned her most valuable life lessons (and uncover those beauty secrets), as we take a look at the stunning transformation of Vivica A. Fox.

Vivica A. Fox's humble Midwestern childhood

Born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1964, Vivica Anjanetta Fox is the daughter of William, a school administrator, and Everlyena, who worked for a pharmaceutical company. Her parents divorced when she was three years old and she and her three siblings were raised by their single mom as she worked two jobs to support them. 

The divorce devastated Everlyena, leading the young Fox to perceive her as weak and a victim. However, in time, this perception has shifted, with Fox acknowledging that her mom was from a different, more conservative generation. "I see my mother now as a survivor," the actor told San Diego Entertainer. "My mother grew up in a time where you stuck by your guy."

One Insta snap from grade school showed a young Fox who was a far cry from her glamorous Hollywood persona. Nevertheless, she looked assured and determined, perhaps confident of the fame and fortune that were soon to come her way. As she explained to Soap Opera Digest, her mother modeled the strong sense of diligence that would shape Fox's adult sensibilities. "Growing up I played basketball, volleyball, track and I was a cheerleader," she recalled. "My mom worked two jobs while raising four kids ... So I'd say I definitely got that work ethic from my mother." Meanwhile, her dad taught her to be resilient in the face of adversity, a valuable life lesson that enabled her to enter the cutthroat Hollywood industry.

She left Indiana for California

Being on the generational cusp between Boomer and Gen-Xer, Vivica A. Fox grew up at a time when becoming a star was synonymous with hard work. So she knew from a young age that she would have to put in the hours to become a success. "I've always been an ambitious, outgoing kid," she told the Orlando Sentinel

Fox fell in love with modeling at age 13. She was introduced to the profession by her aunt, Madame King, who ran a beauty salon and prepared the future-star for life on the runway. "From that point forward, I just fell in love with magazines and fashion," she enthused to San Diego Entertainer. "Then I went to go see Michael Jackson in concert, and Diana Ross in concert. I had never seen African Americans being so fabulous, and I was like, 'Where do they live? That's where I'm going!'" In a throwback pics from her teen years, Fox's penchant for fashion is evident, with the budding beauty queen donning a bold red ensemble straight out of an '80s music video. By her senior year of high school, she began making clandestine trips to modeling auditions in California without her mom's permission.

After graduating high school, she moved to California to study Social Sciences at Golden West College. As she left her Midwestern classmates behind for the sunny West Coast, she knew success awaited her in Hollywood.

The fresh-faced actor started out on soap operas

By the mid '80s, Vivica A. Fox relocated from California to New York, where she sought modeling success. Unfortunately, she faced racist bigotry. "Every place I went, they said, 'We already have a Black girl that looks just like you,'" she told the Orlando Sentinel. "In 1986, that's the way it worked – they had their one Black girl."

Towards the end of the decade, she moved back to California after becoming disillusioned with the modeling world. However, upon her return, she was approached by a talent agent who saw her star potential and helped her secure acting work. Subsequently, like many celebs, she started out on soap operas. In 1988, she made her onscreen acting debut as Carmen Silva on "Days of Our Lives." The following year, she also appeared on the soap "Generations," engaging in an infamous fight with Jonelle Allen. The fresh-faced ingénue, then 25, looked near unrecognizable with long locks, though she still possessed the same undeniable charisma.

In 1994, she became a staple of "The Young and the Restless" when she was cast as Stephanie Simmons. The lessons that Fox gleaned from her time on the soap were invaluable, bolstering her skill set as a budding A-lister. "I believe soap actors are some of the best-trained actors out there ... It was excellent training for a young actress," she told Soap Opera Digest.

Getting a Hollywood makeover

While on "The Young and the Restless" in 1995, Vivica. A. Fox caught the eye of Jody Fay, the wife of film producer William Fay, who was watching the soap at home while pregnant. As Fox explained to Soap Opera Digest, Fay had been struggling to find a suitable actor to play Jasmine, Will Smith's girlfriend, in "Independence Day." The actor recalled, "A week before, I had said to my agent, 'I heard everybody is auditioning for Independence Day ... ' She said, 'Oh, honey, you're just on a soap opera. You don't have a big enough name.'"

But Fox secured a callback. Since Jasmine was written as a stripper, the then 30-year-old Fox showed up to her audition dressed in a risqué outfit consisting of "a white patent leather jumpsuit, six-inch heels, and makeup," as she recalled to Entertainment Weekly. After six auditions, she scored the coveted role. When she did appear on screen, however, her performance was far more muted than her audition (save for one strip club scene in which she wore a blood-red bustier). 

As a testament to their playful chemistry, Will Smith and Fox ended up winning "Best Kiss" at the MTV Movie Awards, though the latter confessed that the smooch wasn't particularly pleasant. Bad kisses aside, the movie was a colossal hit, grossing over $800 million worldwide and making Fox a household name.

She showcased the perfect '90s aesthetic for Set It Off

After starring alongside — and smooching — Vivica A. Fox in "Independence Day," Will Smith took it upon himself to become her personal trainer when she auditioned for "Set It Off." Their hard work paid off and Fox secured the role of Frankie in the iconic 1996 flick.

A subversion of male-dominated heist movies, "Set It Off" focuses on four Black women — played by Fox, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kimberly Elise — who plan a bank robbery due to economic hardships. For the role, Fox looked vastly different than her character in "Independence Day," despite the films being released just four months apart. She attributable her newly athletic figure to all the hard work she'd undergone via Smith's rigorous training regimen. She also looked every bit the iconic '90s girlboss with a pixie cut.

In an interview with Vulture, Fox said that the project enabled her to demonstrate her versatility as a performer, thereby shifting her public image. "Before 'Set It Off,' I was the hot chick," she explained. "I was out all night, I'd modeled before, and I think people saw me a little bit bougie." She explained that the movie changed that narrative. "I got my street cred. People were like, 'Whoa! Wow, I never knew you could get like that.'" The film, which grossed almost $40 million against a modest $9 million budget, became a cult classic and has been lauded for its cultural impact on Black cinema.

The actor got super fit for Kill Bill

With the dawn of the Millennium, one of Vivica A. Fox's most iconic looks was looming: That of the seemingly innocuous soccer mom turned deadly assassin, Vernita Green. Fox recalled to Soap Opera Digest that she heard that Quentin Tarantino was developing his 2003 movie "Kill Bill" and she was keen to be cast in a project including empowered female warriors. 

Subsequently, Tarantino requested that Fox meet him in a coffee shop, where he ended up fanboying over the star's good looks. "As soon as I came in, he was like, 'Vivica Fox!' and I said, 'Okay, that's a great start,'" she shared. "He goes through this whole thing that he was in a video store and he said, 'There was you on the cover of 'Two Can Play That Game' and you had on this leopard dress. That's when I knew you were going to be my Vernita Green.'"

The brief but memorable role entailed a now iconic fight scene with Uma Thurman. In a chat with CinemaBlend, Fox discussed the grueling training she endured for the part, which resulted in the 38-year-old losing a significant amount of weight (hence her uber-toned physique in the film). "Six months of training," she explained. "I went from a size 8-10 to a 2 ... I never worked out that much in my life."

She changed her look after hooking up with 50 Cent

After divorcing her husband Sixx-Nine — who she was married to from 1998 to 2002 — a 39-year-old Vivica A. Fox began dating rapper 50 Cent in 2003. That year, the pair attended the VMAs and a glowing Fox turned heads with her new Rachel from "Friends" esque hairdo and eye-catching ensemble that left little to the imagination. 

The romance was short-lived, however, and they had an acrimonious split in 2004, with 50 accusing Fox of exploiting his fame to appear on magazine covers. Appearing at the BET Awards (via HipHopDX) following the breakup, Fox dismissed Fiddy's accusations. "My films have grossed over one billion dollars worldwide," she declared. "I ain't gotta use nobody for no cover of no magazine. I been on magazines forever." She later said that the intense publicity was to blame for the messy split.

But Fox wasn't letting the bad blood tear her down. Having celebrated her 40th birthday the year she split with Fiddy, she was determined to live her best life and leave the past behind. At the time, a Tampa Bay Times profile noted that Fox had no qualms about turning 40; in fact, she welcomed the occasion as a symbolic fresh start. "Girl, I'm excited about 40. I ain't wet behind the ears no more!" she joked. "I'm a woman and I'm cool with me, and if everybody don't like me, that's okay."

She may have started getting mom roles, but Vivica A. Fox hadn't aged a day

Having starred in "Getting Personal" in 1998, Fox is no stranger to the sitcom format. After appearing in numerous movies throughout the 2000s, she returned to TV in 2007 when she was cast in "Curb Your Enthusiasm." She starred as Loretta Black, whose family was left homeless following a hurricane and subsequently invited to stay at Larry David's Los Angeles mansion. Over time, Loretta and Larry developed an intimate bond and Fox remained on the show until 2009, when an unfortunate vehicular faux pas led to the Black family moving out in Season 7 (sans Larry's BFF Leon, of course).

The relationship between perennially grouchy old man Larry David and vivacious Loretta was a tad jarring considering that the former appears decades her senior. However, the comedian is only 17 years older than Fox in real life, and their characters' perceived age disparity was due to Fox looking so much younger than her age.

Though she was cast as the stern matriarch of the Black family, Fox, then 43, had hardly aged a day since her big break in the '90s. The show also elevated the star to a new level of fame. "I should be able to come to New York and blend in. After 'Curb' people are like, 'Oh my god, I love you!'" she told BUILD.

Reaching middle age led to some major changes for the star

Towards the end of the aughts, Vivica A. Fox ventured into reality TV by hosting "The Cougar." The series, which aired in 2009, saw a group of men competing for the affections of a woman in her 40s — the titular cougar. Chatting about the show to People (via Today), Fox said that she had started to view herself as a cougar and was receiving attention from a number of young men. "A lot of people think that because a woman is older and is going to date a younger guy that she just wants a young stud muffin in bed," she said. "The show will show that age is just a number."

In keeping with the cougar theme, she also launched her Cougar Crunch Milkshake that year. Appearing at a launch event, the 45-year-old star was glowing, sporting soft curls reminiscent of her "Independence Day" character.

Though "The Cougar" was little more than some lighthearted augmented reality, it resonated with Fox on a profound level; having reached her late 40s, the actor had undergone a major re-evaluation of her life. "It was in my late forties, or maybe just when I got to be about fifty, that I started really looking at my relationships and asking myself if they are all reciprocal relationships," she told San Diego Entertainer.

Vivica A. Fox's biggest life regret

By the 2010s, Vivica A. Fox had enjoyed an illustrious career spanning three decades. Appearing at a red carpet event in 2014, Fox, who had by then turned 50, debuted glamorous curls and her super-toned hourglass figure. But for all her glowing smiles and remarkable achievements, she couldn't help feeling as though her life was lacking one vital component. 

That year, she sat down for "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" (via HuffPost) and got real about her regrets in life. "That's the biggest regret of my life, that I didn't have a child," she told Oprah Winfrey when the host asked if she wished she'd become a mom. Fox recalled a particularly revelatory moment in which she dined with Halle Berry and her daughter, Nahla, at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. "I said, 'Wow she so beautiful,'" she reflected. "[Berry] said, 'Vivica, if I knew then what I know now, I would've had five of them ... The joy I see in her eyes is just like no other high that I've ever experienced.'" Fox explained, "I don't get to see my eyes in a child. I think that's something I'll miss."

Although she's child-free, Fox still has a strong maternal instinct and loves caring for her godchildren. "I've got six godbabies," she said during a Q&A (via Essence). "Don't think that because I didn't birth children that I don't have children."

The end of the decade saw a new Vivica A. Fox

As the 2010s came to an end, Vivica A. Fox began dabbling in ventures outside of acting. Famous for her impeccable style, she put her fashion icon status to good use in 2016 when she launched her inclusive clothing line, the Vivica Fox Collection by Poetic Justice Jeans. "I believe that my girls with curves deserve to look fabulous, too," she enthused to Smashing Interviews.

Fox changed things up again when she debuted an entirely new look in 2018. The 54-year-old showcased a pixie cut with beach blond highlights and, as usual, nary a wrinkle in sight.

That year, she released her memoir, "Every Day I'm Hustling," which also doubles as a self-help book. In an interview with The New York Times, she revealed that she felt compelled to pen the memoir once she reached her 50s, hoping to give a voice to other women who felt cast aside by societal ageism. "I thought, If you were to do a book, what would you like to do a book about?" she explained. " I'm a woman now in my 50s, and I'm kind of like a phoenix. Whenever they count me out, I always have a tendency to kind of rise back up from the ashes." She added that she was also at a crossroads in her career, as she was deemed too hot for mom roles and too old to play the ingenue.

The secret to Vivica A. Fox's fountain of youth

Aging? Vivica A. Fox doesn't know her. In 2021, the 57-year-old was looking as radiant as ever, showing off her super smooth, glowing complexion and impeccable makeup on the red carpet. The long hair was also back after a hiatus, with the star opting for shimmering chestnut locks. But one can't help but wonder how the age-defying star maintains her youthful looks.

In an interview with Us Weekly that year, Fox opened up about her beauty and lifestyle routines. "My morning starts with self-care, including my skincare ritual," she said. The star went on to explain that she uses collagen gel to hydrate her skin and wears sunscreen every morning, which she reapplies throughout the day. But what she puts in her body is just as important as what she puts on it. She also highlighted the importance of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.

To manage the stress of a hectic schedule, she writes down her routine in a planner (which medical studies have shown is an effective means of alleviating cognitive overload). Finally, she ends the day by practicing more self-care. "I love to end the day winding down listening to meditation music, while enjoying my diffuser," she revealed. "It helps me relax and be grateful for the day."

The actor ended her feud with Kenya Moore

Out and about in 2022, a 58-year-old Vivica A. Fox appeared more confident and sure of herself than ever, sporting a powder blue power suit — with a power pose in tow — and a high pony that accentuated her famous cheekbones. And just as her self-assured vibe showed that she meant business, the actor was about to set the record straight on her long-running beef with "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Kenya Moore.

Fox and Moore first began feuding after appearing on "The Apprentice" in 2015. The pair shaded each other publicly at the time, with Fox accusing Moore of stealing her phone and tweeting nasty remarks about Fox. "With Kenya it was just definitely desperate times call for desperate measures," she told Today. "I just wish that she would be accountable for her actions. She did take my phone and she did put out that ugly tweet about myself."

The bad blood continued for a decade, but in 2022 Fox was ready to put the contretemps to rest. In an interview with E!, she revealed that Moore contacted her saying that she wanted to apologize privately. "I just wasn't ready at first, and then I ran into her, and honestly, it was her little girl, her little energy," she explained. "She just came over to me and she was so gorgeous. And we just got up and hugged each other, and it was like 'Girl, let's just move on.'"

As she approaches her 60s, Vivica A. Fox is living her best life

Vivica A. Fox is still killing it at 59. At a 2023 red carpet event, she looked as glamorous as ever, sporting curls, a bold red lip, and a jumpsuit that accentuated a curvier physique. In her chat with San Diego Entertainer, Fox firmly rejected the homogenous beauty standards of the Instagram and TikTok generation. "The older I've gotten, I believe that beauty radiates from the inside," she stated. "Especially nowadays with these build-a-bodies, and everything is just makeup and fakeness in my opinion right now."

With age, the star has also learned to prioritize her well-being. A self-professed hustler, she's the first to own up to her tendency to work too hard. While her reward for hustling was once a trip to the club, now it's heading home to sleep, she quipped to Entertainment Weekly.

When asked by San Diego Entertainer how she radiates even more sexiness in her 50s than she did in her younger years, she chalked it all up to confidence and being comfortable in her own skin. "I have embraced my womanhood through my pluses and my minuses," she said. "I'm good with me right now, so that's what you're seeing. My spirit is happy, more than anything else."