A Jamie Foster Brown Interview
We packed up the photographer and our crew in two SUVs and headed down the 3-hour road from D.C. to Virginia Beach for this interview with Michael Vick and his lovely fiancée Kijafa (pronounced Key-ah-fuh) Frink. We only knew Michael through media reports about his super-quarterback exploits in the NFL and, of course, his dog fighting woes, but we were heading for what turned out to be one our most fun interviews in a long, long time. Beneath that tough football exterior, Michael was ready to try new things, which, to me, means “let’s dance.”
What an adventure; Charles Evans, who had me, makeup artist Kym Lee and photographer Jackie Hicks in his SUV, wanted to drive down Highway 301 while Lorenzo, who had our youngest son Russell and Senior Editor Ericka Boston, wanted to take I-95. So, of course, Miss Senior Editor, whose job is to lead her editorial staff, goes, “Let’s beat ’em!” So Lorenzo raced to prove his route was faster. Then, a couple of hours down the road, Charles discovered he had a flat tire in all of that snow (hahaha, said Lorenzo, who was already ahead anyway). Our female photographer, Jackie Hicks, actually got down on the ground to fix it, but didn’t have the tools to get the spare out from its underneath-the-car compartment. The coolest guys, who happened to stop at the same rest stop, fixed the tire. In other circumstances we might have written them off as rednecks, possibly racists, but there they were, down on the cold, wet ground, fixing that flat just to enjoy doing a good turn for others, regardless of race.
Finally we arrived in Virginia Beach. Kym had told Bishop Rudolph Lewis and his daughter Yvette Lewis and her cousin Tarsha Lawton that we were coming, so they arranged for the photo shoot and interview to take place in the awesome home of their friends Betty and Brian Dorsey, who, by the way, can pimp your ride if you’re ever in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk, Virginia, area. More acts of kindness. Michael and Kijafa had a hard time finding the house because the street was new and did not show up on the GPS. So we started late. That was a problem because Michael had to leave after our session to get up to New York to do the “Today” show or something. Nevertheless, we had time to get ordinarily quiet and reserved Michael to quarterback a huddle, with me as a running back (the huddle is the only part of football I like to watch). Then we danced to Brian’s cool music for, really, too long. I taught Michael how to salsa, Tarsha help lay out the food, and we ate. Then Jackie completed a fabulous photo shoot and I almost finished the interview. But wait a minute—the interview was the main reason for being there, not to dance and eat! Never fear, I finished talking to Mike and Kijafa on the phone about a week later. Yeah, we got in questions about the dog fighting, football and what it was like in prison, but the best part of the whole project was seeing a side of Michael and Kijafa that we don’t think you’ll even see in their BET reality show. Hey, Mike and Kijafa, let’s do it again! Here we go…
Jamie: How are you two doing?
Michael: Doing good.
Kijafa: Fine. Thank you for having us.
Jamie: I don’t want you too jealous because I’m rubbing up against your man’s legs. Are you from Philadelphia?
Kijafa: I’m from Philadelphia.
Jamie: See, they’ll cut you in Philadelphia.
Kijafa: They sure will!
Jamie: I’ll have to be careful. But how can you resist this handsome young piece of chocolate?
Michael: No doubt.
Jamie: Where are we?
Michael: Virginia Beach.
Jamie: You all live here?
Kijafa: That’s right.
Michael: Yeah, we do.
Jamie: But we are at the home of Mr. Dorsey, who loaned us his home so that we can have some privacy with Mike and Kijafa. I made Michael dance. We’ve been practicing for the wedding.
Michael: I know how to salsa dance now. If I’m at a club, I want to get my 1-2 on, then I can do it.
Jamie: First of all, what’s going on in your lives now? You got this big television project. What made you want to do [a reality show]? Was it difficult?
Michael: No, it wasn’t hard to do. When I was in prison we talked about documenting everything coming out of prison, so we kind of had fun with it and just recorded everything in our day-to-day life.
Jamie: So BET didn’t have a hard time convincing you to do this, or did you approach BET about it?
Kijafa: Yeah, we actually approached BET about it.
Jamie: Oh really? I’m surprised because Mike’s real quiet. That’s what people always say, but are you really like that? Kijafa, you can answer.
Kijafa: Yeah, he’s a very quiet person around people that he don’t know, but when he’s home, he likes to laugh and joke and play.
Michael: It depends on who I’m around. It takes a while for me to get accustomed to certain people because of my level of trust. And that’s dated back to when I was younger.
Jamie: What happened when you were young to your level of trust?
Michael: It wasn’t a life-changing experience but I’ve just been through a lot of experiences that had to do with a lot of different people and different levels.
Jamie: Tell me a little bit about that. Like, was your father there?
Michael: Yeah, my father was there when I was younger but, you know, I pretty much had to rely on other sources to mold me as a young man. I learned a lot from people who have been through a lot. My high school coach played in the NFL and he dealt with the politics when I was playing football. So he instilled certain things in me when I was young.
Jamie: Who is this?
Michael: Tommy Reamon.
Jamie: When did you learn that you had football skills?
Michael: I knew I had the skill ever since I was 8 or 9 years old. I didn’t know if I had the skill to play professional ball, but I knew I would always have a shot.
Jamie: Were you good in school?
Michael: I was pretty disruptive in class. I really didn’t focus.
Kijafa: He was a bad boy.
Michael: I didn’t put forward my best effort.
Kijafa: Tell her ’bout the time your mom said you glued your eyes shut.
Jamie: Why did you do that?
Michael: Just being inquisitive. I had seen my mom using Visine. [all laugh] I thought the tube of glue was Visine, so me seeing what she was doing, I put some in my eyes. It was super glue.
Jamie: Did they have to take you to the hospital?
Michael: No. I had a patch over my eye for a week. And then they—then my aunt cut it. It was all glued up. She cut my eyelash off, then it opened up after that.
Kijafa: I love hearing that story.
Jamie: That glue is strong!
Michael: Yeah, it’s strong.
Read the rest of Michael and Kijafa’s interview in the April 2010 issue of Sister 2 Sister to see what he had to say about watching his daughter being born and Kijafa’s take on life while he was in prison.