But as is true with most appearances, theyíre deceiving and the 24-year-old starlet-in-training has not been a slouch with her work effort. Our readers here are known for their in-your-face criticism, but this is nothing that Ms. Khalilyah doesnít do for herself. In this interview, youíll get a better insight on mind of a true California champion as she discusses her parents thoughts on her profession, how Marilyn Monroe influenced her love life and why youíd never see her on a reality TV show.
Beauty & Brains: You have a very unique sounding name. How do you pronounce it?
Khalilyah Laveaux: It is pronounced - Kha-lil-y-ah.
B&B: Is there a meaning behind your name? Or was your mother a really big Aaliyah fan?
KL: Well, before I was born, my parents thought that I was going to be a boy. So, the nine months went by, I came out and I was a girl! [Laughs] So, they had to get creative on cue. That was the best that they could do.
B&B: What interested you in being in front of the camera?
KL: Itís always been something that Iíve been involved in. I have been mixed up in the entertainment field since I was seven-years-old. I love it. I really like to see the outcome of the work that I put into it. Being a Virgo, I always find myself critiquing myself and the work that I do. When I go to my acting classes, they tape your performance. So, Iíll take the work, go home and watch the progress that Iíve made from when I first began.
B&B: How were you when you first started?
KL: I was green when I first started. I was conscientious about who I was. I was a tomboy, too, which didnít help my security. I was insanely insecure about being curvy. I would wear really big and baggy clothes to hide my figure. I didnít want to be hot in the ass, dressing any type of way, so I would try my best not to bring attention to myself.
B&B: But for being such a pretty girl, how did being a model or so exposed go over with your folks?
KL: My mom doesnít like it. My dadÖ he knows to an extent. He knows about the business. My mom used to model, so she kind of said that if Iím going to do it, that I do it all the way; especially if I want to do it. For my height, Iím considered tall, but Iím also curvy, so they consider me a plus-size model. The urban modeling, I accept it, thatís other peopleís hustle, but for me, Iíd like to further my career in other venues. I donít want to branch off into the soft porn thing just for some exposure. I was raised in the church, so thatís not where Iím trying to go with it. If people just want pretty girls to pose, thatís fine. But Iím not into selling my body. I keep myself sexy classy. I want to still be able to show my mom my work, so she doesnít have to slap me into next week. [Laughs]
B&B: Over the course of establishing a career, what have been a few obstacles you had to overcome?
KL: The obvious Ė everyone wants you to take off your clothes and wants you to sleep with them! Those are things that I would never do. If thatís you, then I wish you the best in whatever you want to do, but honestly, I wonít compromise myself. It may take me a few more years to become successful, but I will work hard to make it. In the acting business out here, when they hold a casting for a movie role, theyíll [casting directors] call in all their friends. On top of bringing in the people who are right for the role, theyíre going to hook their people up first. Itís just commonplace. But with those friends, you may have people who are sleeping together and theyíll get those phone calls, too.
B&B: ďA wise girl kisses but doesnít love, listens but doesnít believe, and leaves before she is left.Ē Pretty smooth quote from Marilyn Monroe. How does it apply to you?
KL: With everything. Men are going to be men and you canít think that certain things arenít going to happen. Iíve been cheated on. Itís just how you got to look at it; the first time that it happens, shame on you, right? And then, the second time, shame on me. You just have to keep your guards up.
B&B: So, how does that affect your relationships with men?
KL: I have very good charisma. Iím not cocky or anything. Iíll be kind and polite to people, but people try to sell me a dream. It goes on a lot out here in California. They say that they can build your career. You donít have to do all of that in order to make a career. They just want to sleep with you. Once they get what they want, youíll never hear from them again. They avoid you like the plague. Itís happened to a few of my girlfriends. What makes it worst is that you canít go to the next industry head and tell them what happened because they then place the blame solely on the female!
B&B: So, do you have a strong support system?
KL: My cousinís on the east coast support me. My mother supports me, as long as it doesnít go over the board. Sheís from Compton and sheís as gangster as it can get. My father doesnít really know about the whole modeling business. Iíve been acting and all that. But he doesnít know that I have been doing a lot with modeling. Heíll just say be careful. Heís a musician. I pray a lot. God is my support system. My girls keep me grounded because weíre going through the same thing. We share with each other our secrets, our pain and all that. I stay focused and one of the hardest things to do is to control my temper. Youíre dealing with people who are in a position of power and theyíll use that to their advantage. You have to be professional, because you donít know who is connected to whom.
B&B: Well, in a male driven business, how does that quote apply to the business?
KL: You deny advances; you donít sell yourself as being naÔve. You have to set standards. If itís not what I want, then Iíll be professional enough to say that this is not what I want. I am very charismatic. I can hold a conversation with anyone. If it comes down to something that I donít agree with, then it doesnít go down. But I have a mean face [laughs], so people already know what the deal is when they first approach me.
B&B: We know that more and more women are trying to be involved in this business, but why not capitalize on it through a reality show?
KL: Iím SAG [Screen Actors Guild] member, so for me when the writerís were on strike, there was nothing on TV but reality TV. For SAG members, thereís no pay upfront and itís not really something that one would go for, as far as establishing a career and all that. You know how Omarosa got to be a ďcelebrityĒÖ? Sheís a name now through the reality TV circuit and if she has more of a career, then thatíll be what sheís known for. A lot of the serious actors would not touch it. I know I couldnít be on a reality TV show! The first time someone gets in my face, I would be off the show. I donít play that. You will respect me. If I had just wanted exposure and didnít care about the craft, I wouldíve tried out for College Hill or The Real World. But with that one, Iím mature in my ways, so that whole cackling and acting like a little kid doesnít work for me. Itís the same with me in the real world, literallyÖ Iím a very detailed oriented person. I wouldnít even talk to a guy if he had dirty nails. Iíd look and say, ďHolla.Ē
B&B: [Laughs] Itíd be a show kind of like Survivor, but judged by cats within the game like Sean Malcolm, Marcus Blassingame and Melyssa Ford. But you probably donít think that youíd be voted off, huh?
KL: Yeah, Iíd do something like that with a purpose. Iím not mad at those in the magazine game. I support anyone of any ethnicity who is trying to step up and do what theyíre trying to do. What I want to do may not be what they want, so it may be just me in the end, but if itís something with a purpose then Iím down. It has to be tasteful, not crazy, a competition is so steep. Any casting you have 100-200 girls there, trying to make that easy money. I hold a regular job in addition to this and Hollywood wonít stop just because you have a 9-to-5. I work at night; I grind, go to school and go to auditions when I can.
B&B: Speaking of voting, have you had the chance to vote for our next president?
KL: No, I havenítÖ Politics isnít something that I really like to discuss.
B&B: What changes would you hope be made in the country?
KL: The very first thing Iíd like to see is all of the troops overseas to come back home. The country is in debt, right now and itís hard for people to survive. Gas is almost $4 a gallon. I pray that everything will be alright, but the gears need to shift. People need jobs and healthcare, people need to get a decent healthcare. There has to be a backup plan for people. What people should know about me is that I am very approachable. The first thing that they think is that Iím not approachable. Iím the coolest person that youíve ever seen. I am a motivational and inspirational person. I will chop it up with anyone who wants to chop it up with me. I want people to follow their dreams, but I want them to live because it is hard out here. If I could change the world and make it a better place, I would, but I know that itís a struggle. Iím Portuguese and Creole and I lost a lot of people during Hurricane Katrina and it hurt my heart. They called them refugees and they have nothing. It hurt my heart. My heart goes out to those who lost everything during 9/11. In the end, reallyÖ things are just getting harder for us; theyíre not getting any easier.