Hollywood casting agents need to man up. Whether male or female, those making big-screen role selections clearly ignore the gorgeous breeding ground of hip-hop videos. Save for, say, Meagan Good, Rap City's eye candy rarely gets beyond T&A typecasting (see "sexy stewardess,â€ "stripper girlfriendâ€). Future Buffies with bodies should see Elise Neal. A trailblazer for dancer-turned-actress hopefuls, the 15-year veteran has made the leap from the worlds of Hype Williams to Robin Williams.
Since her days of sexing up Yo! MTV Raps (YouTube her in Chubb Rock's "Just the Two of Usâ€), the Memphis, Tennessee, native has made many film (Paid In Full, Hustle & Flow) and television (All of Us, The Hughleys) appearances. Next, she's starring alongside Anthony Anderson in Fox's New Orleans police drama K-Ville, short for "Katrinaville.â€ But with tiesÂ to both Curtis Jackson and a certain fellatio goddess, Ms. Neal just can't leave the video game alone.
KING Although this is your fourth KING shoot, it's your first cover. Consider this your coronation.
ELISE I'm happy to be in the Hollywood issue. I love seeing the theatrics that can come from a shoot. That's what makes it exciting for me. But this wasn't an easy shoot. I'm playing the victim, the one that people are trying to kill. And those ropes, the duct tape and being tied up was a lot. I was in pain a couple of times for real.
Wait, video chicks are supposed to be good dancers? Could've fooled us. Well, you certainly played the "tied-upâ€ role like a pro. Almost like you've done it beforeâ€¦
What are you trying to say? I didn't suggest duct tape. I didn't suggest rope, especially unfinished rope. That would be you guys [laughs].
So that was acting, not just another Friday night?
I was really acting. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it [laughs]. I've never been duct-taped [in bed]; I will say that.
You were one of the first to break the "video chickâ€ curse by establishing a credible acting career. That's like seeing Sasquatch.
The journey was weird for me because I didn't want to act. I wanted to sing, dance and be on stage. I wanted to be on Broadway. When I got started, the '90s was a big period in hip-hop and R&B, and a lot of the choreographers that I worked with were doing music videos as well as musical-theater jobs. That's how I got into videos.
Wait, video chicks are supposed to be good dancers? Could've fooled us.
Don't get it twisted. I was the go-to video chick for a while. I was in everything from Father MC to Black Sheep videos back in the day, and I'm very proud of it. But once I decided to make acting my career, I pretty much cut the videos off.
Last year, art almost imitated life when you were in talks to portray another famed clip vixen, Karrine Steffans, in a full-length feature.
Is that still going down?
Everybody has been asking me about it, and we're sort of at a standstill. I just want it to be something that she has a lot of control over, which is difficult sometimes in making movies. But I would still do it if it came together in the right way.
For more pictures of Elise Neal and her interview with KING, cop the November 2007 Hollywood Issue, on newsstands now or click here to subscribe.
Check out the early years of Elise Neal's career in Chubb Rock's "Just The Two Of Us" video