After traveling to promote her new film “Love Ranch”, and recent TV One’s “Life After” series, Elise Neal gave us some time to discuss the progression of her career: including the chances she took, the relationships she was in, and the advice she has for women today.
HELLOBEAUTIFUL- I wanted to start with your earlier life. I know that you went to school for creative and performing arts. Tons of people do that and just hope for a big opportunity afterward: What did you do to make sure that your skills were displayed and that your career took off?
ELISE NEAL- I guess I didn’t know. I was born and raised in Memphis and got a full scholarship. It was just part of my journey. Back then it was something that I had been doing for so long you know? I had been singing and dancing since I was 6 and to me this was just another step towards what I really wanted to do at the time, which was be a Broadway performer. I just kind of stuck with it.
HB- You are obviously very versatile, being able to do music videos, commercials, and films. How do you handle the uncertainty that comes along with trying out new things?
EN- Honestly, I think that it is all a complete progression. I wasn’t as skeptical because I was performing in New york, traveling the world performing in musicals like Dream Girls and Sophisticated Ladies. While I was doing the musicals in New York, there was a wave of dance commercials and things like that that were going on. Then I thought that maybe it would be a great idea now that I’m doing commercials to keep going. I was lightly taking acting in New York. I decided to find out more about acting and moved to LA. When I wasn’t doing any dancing, singing, and touring, I just tried out for things. I got my first acting job on the soap opera so I moved back to New York. Things just kept progressing, happening, and changing.
HB- You have mentioned your mom playing a big role in your life. What makes you appreciate her so much?
EN- Yeah! My mom was really great. She was a nurse and then went back to school. There were a lot of times when I had a lot of after school performances and she never complained and said that she didn’t want to take me. She was 100% into it. I think it was because she saw how much I loved it.
HB- I wanted to talk to you a little bit about yours and 50 Cent’s relationship. You guys currently have a very chill friendship after dating, I was wondering how that worked out?
EN- Not everybody that you date is bad. I think everyone hopes for a friendship after at least. People come in and out of your life. He’s not the only person that I have dated that I’m still friends with. For me, that’s the best thing you can get out of it if you’re not going to be together. There’s always a reason that you’re not together, whatever it is. We don’t have any animosity, no hard feelings. It is what it is and we can still be cool.
HB- How does this relate to F. Gary Gray? Are there similarities or is that a different situation?
EN- With F. Gary Gray the difference is going to be this: he and I dated for 5 years, including the dating and being engaged, you know all of those things. I think the reason that you don’t see a lot about it is because all of the people in the media who are interested in the dating and personal lives is more of a recent thing. That wasn’t around as much 5 years ago. I’m glad. I would not have wanted people to take pictures of us eating just because we were out together. When we were together, the media wasn’t hungry for that kind of dirt. Now, gosh, you can’t date anyone for 2 seconds without everyone wanting to be in your business. I think that unless he’s changed, he’s like I am in that respect. I don’t think either one of us got together for the media at all. There are definitely pictures of us together going around but we didn’t seek that.
HB- Do you find that it still affects your personal life or it’s just something in the past?
EN- He’s someone that I was engaged to and you know, the past is in the past. He is my ex fiance now. When I see Gary we can sit and talk for an hour. But the difference between my friendship with Curtis Jackson and my ex fiance is that he’s my ex fiance. We kind of went all the way in our relationship. When someone is your ex fiance it’s not like you check in on your ex fiance. There’s no animosity at all though. The last time that we saw each other we ended up talking for an hour. But like I said we are exes now. There’s no animosity there: it was a moment in time and the moment has passed.
HB- Do you find that you have regrets?
EN- Honestly the only regret I have about my engagement with Gary is that that would have been the best time for me to have a baby. I wouldn’t even say that’s a regret. But it’s something that I think about: that would have been the time to have a baby. I would love to have a family. I like to think that that is something that will happen soon. I hate to say that I will push my child in the “tu-tu” direction that I was so happy to be in, but I am going to try. If I have a little girl, I will probably try to force tu-tu on my baby.
HB- You are everywhere nowadays: you obviously have a very busy life. How do you find a balance between your celebrity life and your personal life?
EN- I became a known face when it was about your talent. It wasn’t about what party you were at. Now you really have to get out there and- I hate to say it- pimp your talent. It’s exhausting. I long for the time that I could just go to work, be good at my job, and that was enough to get you in a magazine. I don’t want to have to figure out outfits. That’s why I’m so tired now, I’ve been out pimping my movie Love Ranch that’s in theaters right now and it is TIRING. I definitely have balance because I will just say that I’m not doing it. I never did this job for the fame: I started performing because I love this job. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be on the cover of certain magazines, but I want it to happen in a natural way.
HB- You are very beautiful and talented. What advice do you have for girls about body image?
EN- People are always asking me for tips: I believe that I will put together a book about everything in a couple of years. But the best you can do is try to love yourself for who you are. As long as I can remember I have always thought that I was good enough. Never let anyone try to downplay you and who you are.
HB- Speaking of tips: how are you making your hair work in the summer heat?
EN- I really miss my short hair. I think I’m going to go back to short. I get bored and I like to switch it up. Short is fun and sassy: my long hair is driving me freaking crazy right now. It’s more work and more maintaining. I get over pony tails. You can go Halle Berry short if your face can do that, but I am definitely a fan of the sexy short hair. It works for interviews and hot dates.
HB- What about staying in shape over the summer?
EN- It’s never too hot to work out. I am a big believer in giving yourself confidence by working out. You love yourself. I know that I have been working out and bring active since I was six, but it really does give me an overall confidence. Even if I ran for 10 minutes in the heat, it probably burns way more calories than if it’s cold. So my advice is that even if it’s hot: take that 10 minute jog around your neighborhood.
If you missed Elise’s “Life After” episode it will re-air on TV One on the following dates:
Sunday, August 1 at 8PM and 11PM, ET
Monday, August 2, at 9:30PM, and 12:30AM, ET
Sunday, August 8, at 8:30PM, and 11:30PM, ET
Also, on Sunday, August 29th beginning at Noon, TV One will present a “LIFE AFTER” marathon to give viewers a chance to catch up on missed episodes or to see their favorite moments.