Rick Fox is not afraid to fail and views every bump in the road as an opportunity to grow, so for this very reason, he continues to succeed. From his 14-year basketball career in the NBA where he distinguished himself as a top player, to life as a father of two, his divorce and reconciliation with actress Vanessa Williams to even his segue into a budding acting career – Rick Fox keeps it moving. Forward.
Always one to defy the odds, Fox came from humble beginnings. He grew up in the Bahamas of mixed ethnicity with a Bahamian father, Canadian mother and three siblings. With the dream of financing his college education through sports, as a teenager Fox left home, traveling to Indiana where he attended high school while living with a family under a guardianship. There, he methodically went about accomplishing that goal – first by attending The University of North Carolina where he honed his ball playing skills and then by being signed as a first round draft pick to the Boston Celtics. He would later play for Los Angeles Lakers, helping them win three NBA championships.
Four years ago, at age 36, Fox retired from professional basketball with his eye on another prize...to become a actor. He has since appeared on such television shows as “Dirt,” “One Tree Hill,” “Ugly Betty,” “Love Inc,” and Spike Lee’s film “He Got Game.” MEET THE BROWNS opens nationwide in theaters on Friday, March 21st and stars Angela Bassett, Jennifer Lewis, David and Tamela Mann and Tyler Perry, who reprises his beloved role as Madea!
Q: What advice would you give someone on choosing a career?
A: Pursue the career you’d do, even if you couldn’t get paid.
Q: What was your favorite memory of working on Meet The Browns?
A: The time I spent with Angela (Bassett) off the set running our lines and working together. I jumped ahead in terms of my understanding of working with a fellow actor because Angela grabbed me and pulled me forward. Angela and Tyler (Perry)were like blank canvases. They were open to what I brought to the table and what I had to offer. The experience was invaluable.
Q: You’re Bahamian and Canadian. How did it feel to have that background growing up in the states?
A: My mom raised my two sisters as Black women (she’s a white Italian woman) and has lived in the Bahamas for the last 35 years. I consider myself of mixed heritage and growing up in the Bahamas, race was not an issue because it was a mixed country. Here in the states, I saw how important it was for people to define themselves as part of a specific group...I felt like an outsider in that respect.
Q: You’re a dad with two children. What’s the most challenging part of parenting?
A: As a parent, I think you’re tested daily, but I always try to stay in communication with them about the things in my life that weren’t great choices, that made my life more difficult. There nothing too sacred to discuss. I’d rather it be too soon to discuss something than too late.
Q: How did your career as an athlete shape who you are today?
A: My experience as a ball player was all or nothing, win or lose...that’s what everything came down to. So I try to share with my son and daughter that the colors in between are beautiful also...that there’s value when you come in second or land in the middle. Otherwise the value of things get lost when winning is the only focus.
Q: What has failure taught you most?
A: What failure showed me was how to move forward more intelligently. There are always more wins in my losses because I always come out so much wiser about how to approach things better the next time.
Q: You’re a new actor. How do you approach this new career after being a seasoned veteran ball player? Is it tough to star over?
A: People get paralyzed because of the fear of beginning again. You’re a rookie, so you’re not as good as you want people to see you. I say, allow yourself to be a beginner and allow yourself to grow. I had a 14 year career as a ball player – won 3 NBA championships, made a great living. Retired at 36. Now I have to begin my career again. A lot of athletes struggle because they wonder a) do I have enough time to be great again? b) what happens if I fail? Am I willing to face the criticism and go back at it again and again and again? Truthfully, the thing that helped me was examining why I wanted to act. My answer was – to be expressive and create a message. So I accept this as a marathon, not a sprint. And when I look at actors I respect, the Morgan Freeman’s, the Denzel’s, Samuel L. Jackson and I looked at their ages, I said ‘if I’m 36 now, twenty years from now would I be unhappy to look back and reflect on having had to begin again? The answer is no.
Q: Who are your favorite athletes?
A: Serena Williams, who I’ve watched grow as a tennis player and have taken my daughter to see a number of times. Kevin Garnett to whom I wish nothing but the best. I truly love his approach to basketball. He really transcends generations, he’s about team sports. And Tiger Woods, I appreciate him for his consistent improvement above and beyond his dominance of the sport. He begins every year with the things that he can get better at. It’s inspiring for me...he’s about constant and consistent improvement in life.
Q: What are your three favorite books?
A: The Four Agreements, Respect for Acting (which constantly reminds me of why I’m acting), and Proverbs
Q: What about your favorite films?
A: “Love Actually” (I loved the Christmas element), a number of Penny Marshall films – I really like “A League of Their Own”, and “Hoosiers”
Q: You’re a very handsome man. How was it growing up being a pretty boy?
A: I felt objectified. My mom never cut my hair, so I had long curls and the guys were envious because I got attention from the girls. So I found myself always apologizing and diminishing it and I later learned to stop doing that. I realized I was conducting my life by not wanting to be “too much.” But you’re supposed to use the tools you’re given in life, all of them.
Q: What kind of things do you do with your kids?
A: I took my son to a Kanye West concert for New Years and it was our first concert together. We experienced something special together while watching and enjoying someone perform at their best. On the way home, we talked about being at your best and not being at your best sometimes. We looked at the speedometer and I said sometimes it’s on O and sometimes it’s at 100 --- and sometimes at 5 miles per hour. You have to adjust.
Q: You work with your ex-wife Vanessa Williams on the show “Ugly Betty,” so obviously you two must have a good relationship. How did you achieve that?
A: We were married for six years and I was on the road 10 months out of the year, so our communication was tested with our busy schedules and ultimately, both parties developed resentment. But we have great communication now and I’m proud that we have a beautiful daughter together and we’ve had a lot of joy in co-parenting her. Outside of that, we root for each other’s professional careers. There would be no Rick Fox on “Ugly Betty,” if Vanessa hadn’t said ‘I’m alright with that.’
Anna Fuson or Tagan Lee
Red Sea Entertainment