As an accomplished actress, singer and dancer it’s safe to say that Elise Neal is a certified diva. Now, she is making the label extra official in her new role as one of the cast members of “Hollywood Divas,” which premieres on TV One later this year.
In addition to the reality show, which will also star Golden Brooks (“Girlfriends”), Paula Jai Parker (Friday), Countess Vaughn (“The Parkers”) and Lisa Wu (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”), the Money Talks actress is also reprising her love for song and dance with her new group, Elise and The Assorted Flavors, which will be performing at various cities in the coming months.
In an exclusive conversation with Sister 2 Sister, Elise spoke about the new show, her return to dance and her secret to a long lasting career.
Jacob: Talk a little bit about how it feels to be a part of this cast of ladies.
Elise: This show is all about actresses coming together, which I’m always supportive of. It’s such a great cast why not take advantage of the fact that we can do our own projects now, capitalize on this great cast and make something happen for us that if we left to the powers that be, might not happen? We’re producing, writing, directing our own project and putting it out to the masses; it’s going to be amazing.
Jacob: It’s no secret that reality shows thrive on drama. Can the fans expect some healthy conflict on “Hollywood Divas”?
Elise: It’s always a little bit of conflict when it’s five women. I say this all the time on the show: I work with women. I do a show with Elise and Assorted Flavors, which is women, so I know that when you bring women together in a group it’s just because. Everybody’s gonna have a day. I try to roll with that and deal with it, but there’s personality differences and things like that. It’s a little bit of history with Paula Jai Parker. The other ones I don’t really know as well. Paula and I have known each other since pre-Hustle & Flow, 15 years we’ve known each other. Overall I try to keep it pretty even until something in my lane happens. I don’t wanna give too much away.
Jacob: Is the show something you plan on doing temporarily or is it part of a bigger long-term vision?
Elise: I love creating spaces in singing, dancing and performing. I’ve done it since I was 6 years old, and a lot of people still don’t know that about me. I created Elise and the Assorted Flavors [dance team] a while back for that reason. I reincarnated it for a one night performance with myself and honestly I wanna just sit down and let them go do tours and produce it and all that. It’s gonna be fun and sexy.
Jacob: So you pretty much do everything when it comes to entertainment. Which form of entertainment was your first love?
Elise: When people first knew me I was actually singing and dancing doing musicals. I’ve toured all over the world and worked with Mercedes Ellington, Maurice Hines and some of the great people in musical theatre and Broadway. That was what I thought I was going to be doing for the rest of my life, and then acting just kinda happened, and when it happened it happened huge. All the movies came from Rosewood to Money Talks. Everything just started snowballing. So for now I’m putting everything I know and everything that has happened over the last few years together into what I want. And what I want is to produce more. And if that is a space like Elise and Assorted Flavors then I wanna do that. If it’s with me and these girls in our own project then I wanna do that too. So I’m kind of in a “create my own stuff” type of space.
Jacob: You’ve had the type of longevity most actors can only hope for. What’s been your secret to lasting success?
Elise: What’s been lucky for me is the fact that I do have talents in a lot of different areas: I do a lot of comedy. I do a lot of drama. I’m lucky to do things like “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and then flip and do “Scandal” and everybody can’t do that so that’s a blessing. But also I sing, I dance I kind of keep it moving that’s what’s helped me stay here and stay relevant this long.
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