Melyssa Ford: More Than Meet The Eye
Enter Melyssa Ford. Ford may be one of the pioneers of Hip Hops video girls as her curvaceous figure has been the apple in every mans eye for almost a decade. But as her status as the numero uno video girl began to take off, the industry became littered with girls trying to take her spot a spot she claims she didnt really want in the first place. Just as soon as video girls began to change to little more than strippers on camera, Ford began to withdraw from the industry.
Today, the woman known as Jessica Rabbit, has moved on from the video girl game and has so much more going on. Unfortunately, in a male dominated industry, not many outlets take the time out to see what else Ms. Ford has going on aside from her drop dead gorgeous looks. If they asked, they would know Ford has a degree in forensic psychology, or has expanded her catalog to speaking at panels and acting. Maybe they would know that she has a non-profit for women 13-30. We ask all those questions and still stick in a few about her rumored nude scene, her relationship with Flo-Rida and if she ever considered doing the Superhead and penning a tell all book.
HipHopDX: You are pretty much the old school of video models but you parlayed that into so many other things. What you got goin on ms ford?
Melyssa Ford: I currently have a movie available on DVD called Three Can Play At That Game which is the sequel of Two Can Play At That Game with Vivica Fox. Ive got a movie coming out titled Days of Wrath with Wilmer Valderama and Lawrence Fishburne and David Banner. Ive also got another movie called Loves For Sale thats coming soon starring Jackie Long. I just started a foundation called Less is More. Were trying to do fantastic things in the community and its geared towards girls and women ages 13-30. I also have a radio show on SiriusI feel like a Jamaican, Ive got like 50 jobs. I still make appearances and speak on panels for various issues. Im very involved in philanthropic work.
You know what the hardest thing about this business is? People think with their eyes. And they will remember you for things that you have grown so far past that you dont even recollect them yourself because you have gone through so many things. People oftentimes perceive you and judge you based on stuff you did years ago when you now would never do. Im seeing pictures of me floating around the internet right now attached to different stories and Im like, That picture is six fuckin' years old. Me now would never take that picture. You cant be condemned for decisions that you made when you were 22 years old. People tend to do that. When you are in the public eye you are criticized a lot more harshly than the average person. That kinda sucks.
I even tend to forget some of the things Ive done like the CNN interview with Soledad OBrien for the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement and how far black men have come in the last 40 years.
DX: So with the video girl thing comes the automatic negative connotation. Some say that it just comes with the territory. How do you feel about that? Do you think you will ever dispel that connection?
MF: Ive given it so much thought. The funny thing is that the entire time that the video girl phrase was coined, it wasnt the way that it is now. Girls didnt aspire to be video models. It was a secondary income. I came from Canada and the majority of girls that did videos with me were still in school. When we werent on camera, we were either in the corners gossiping or reading a textbook based on our curriculum for school. It wasnt until I moved to the states that I saw that girls could gain a certain kind of popularity from being in music videos. It became more of an aspiration and less of an influence on a secondary goal. What were you going to do with it afterwards? Almost none that have taken the fact that they have done videos and tried to transcend past that perception [of being just a video girl]. That shit will get you caught up. Its like a drug. To be on those sets and around those artists and all the money with that lifestyle - a lot of girls just get swallowed up by it. So the whole, Im using this as a platform to get into acting and singing, its like, Where did you go? Where are they now? Theres been so many girls that Ive been like, What the fuck happened to her?
DX: Ive heard that you went to college for forensic psychology?
MF: I did. I was enrolled in York University in Toronto. At the same time I was working as a bartender on weekends and I was also working in the human resources department of a satellite TV company. I had all of my priorities straight. I can tell you several times when I turned down the likes of Hype Williams, Little X, Paul Hunter, Chris Robinson because they didnt work in my work and school schedules. That was my number one priority. It wasnt the money and it wasnt the travel. My schooling and work took precedence over the videos.
DX: If it wasnt for this detour in your career, what would you have been doing?
MF: I know I wanted to work in law enforcement assisting them capturing high profile sex offenders and serial killers. I wanted to continue working in forensic psychology with investigative units on Behavioral Science Department as well as continue with profiling and character composition. Entertainment made me take a left and never stopped. When I moved to the states, I said that I was going to give it three months and see what happened. I moved to New York with $25 and two suitcases and lived with a friend in a roach-infested apartment in between the ghetto and the hood. It was not glamorous. Within a week I knew that I was never leavingever.
DX: Okay, so lets talk about the good old rumor mil. The latest rumor is that you are doing a nude scene in Days of Wrath.
MF: Noits not a nude scene.
DX: Can you clarify that?
MF: Wilmer Valderama is the title character in the movie and its about Mexican gangs and drugs. I play Wilmers girlfriend. They specifically wanted a black girl to play Wilmers girlfriend. Its funny, hes totally not Fez from That '70s Show; he is a stone cold killer. They needed a character that wasnt afraid of him. Everyone is afraid of him in this movie. They needed a girl that wasnt going to play the docile girl. They came across me for this part specifically.
We definitely look like we are getting down. Im not wearing a robe or anything. It looks like we are doing the do. It definitely gives the appearance that Im nude but Im not. The idea is given to you that Im nude but you dont see anything. Theres so many different ways to edit and use CGI that the effect is definitely given that Im nude but Im not.
DX: Okay, so you killed that rumor. Now whats this you and Flo Rida business all about?
MF: Well, I hosted his record release party in Miami. Ive interviewed him for my show. We developed a friendship just like Ive developed a friendship with a lot of people that Ive interviewed and come to meet. Hes a really fantastic person. I was very intrigued by his story. He wasnt shot and stabbed, he doesnt have a million baby mamas, hes just a regular guy who worked his way up. Im sure theres people that like to see the story overblown.
When it comes to my personal life, I never comment on it. People speculate all the time who I am dating. I never comment on it because in this business, you have to keep something for yourself. If you continue answer questions like that then you belong to the people and the media. I dont belong to the people and the media. Im still Melyssa. And theres a part of me reserved for those that I love. Well just say that hes a really dope person.
DX: Dont break all of our guy readers hearts, but is Ms. Ford ever going to be a Mrs?
MF: If I met him tomorrow I would shut it down for him. YeahI would. I would love to meet him. A man who loved me in spite of my flaws, cherished me, respected me, admired me. I meet a whole bunch of guys with a few characteristics here and there but I havent met the perfect person where the silence is just comfortable. I want kids. I want the picket fence and two car garage. I want to be Mrs. Beaver Cleaver. I do. I was rasied with two parents who were together until the day my father died. I want that. Im very traditional in the way that I was raised. I carry that in the way that I date and the way that I expect to be courted by a gentleman. And theres not a lot of gentleman these days. Im generalizing. Not saying all men but niggas done lost they rabbit ass minds these days. [Laughs]
DX: That gives some of us guys a glimmer of hope. Have you ever considered writing a book? Not of Superhead proportions but something inspirational? A lot of women need to see positive role models these days.
MF: Exactly! Thats why I created the foundation with my partner Daniella. The reason why we created it together was because we both come from two different backgrounds nationality-wise. Shes part black and latina while Im half white and half black and raised in Canada. This gives us a unique perspective on race and gender and how we navigated through this industry. Her, being my former manager, we came up against a lot of roadblocks because we were women about our business. We werent trying to fuck, but dudes really thought that after we would talk business, then we would get down. No. Thats not how it is for us. Its really difficult in this industry, as a woman, to be respected for your mind. Especially if you are good looking. Guys dont really like that shit mixed up the beauty and the brains. I dont care what everybody says, they really have issues with it. Theyd rather have their pretty/dumb or their smart/ugly it just makes things easier to process. Otherwise, if she has both of those going on there is a major intimidation factor. Ive experienced it my entire time in this industry.
The other thing that we have noticed is that there is a lack of positive black female role models. Weve developed this foundation called Less Is More and "Less" is an acronym for Literacy, Etiquette, Strength and Self.
I do plan on writing a book. Its justwhen I tell you how much stuff Ive been through. When it comes to writing a book you have to have a focus and my focus keeps changing because of the things that happened to me. I definitely dont want to write a book anything close to Superheads book or Miss Jones' book or Bobby Browns book. I just think that it is so offensive that you share personal space and time with somebody and then you use that for your financial gain. I think that is tacky and disgusting. So contrary to whatever my personal experiences are with anybody in this industry, I never will use a book to publically tell that story because then Ill look like a piece of shit. So yes, I do plan on writing a book and I do plan on it being inspirational. Im going to be very revealing as to the trials and tribulations that Ive faced because Ive gone through some things that nobody knows about. Ive gone through some shit and rose above the adversity. Ive maintained a strong value system and a moral code, the sacrifices you need to make sometimes go towards the hardships that youve faced.
DX: Why dont you go into your organization a little bit more. Share some details
MF: I choose the age range 13-30 because those are two very transitional points in a females life. When you are 13, you a physically developing into the woman you are going to become. Youre balancing social situations that create a very pressurized environment. At 30, women are supposed to have a house, car, good credit, family, etc and I can tell you that this is not always the case. In actuality, its just the opposite. Women at 30 at times their credit is a mess, may have children out of wedlock or on their way to divorce because they married too early and a myriad of issues that young girls and older women are facing. We want to provide information about women that we admire in front and behind the camera. We want to highlight their accomplishments. We also want to provide information on how to live a better quality of life. And for those infatuated with the entertainment industry, we want to show then you dont have to go the video girl route, or the actress route, or the singer route. Theres so many jobs available that need a womens touch in this industry. We are trying to serve as a mentorship program.
DX: Damn! Its good to see someone with a good head on their shoulders in this industry. From where you started until now, have you seen a decline in women as role models?
MF: People are too caught up in what someone is wearing or what someone is eating and need to get a fucking grip on real life! Develop a sense of interest in things that can affect you. We cant all be young a beautiful forever. We got to find a way to support each other and help this new generation because they are fucking lost. I can launch into a tirade right now about how the government controls the education system which is why we learn exactly what they want us to learn because they want to continue this downward spiral as to what we call education but Im not going to because thats a whole different conversation.
I dont want to be completely pessimistic about this. But the gossip sites and the fact that we are such information junkies gives us the opportunity to find out anything about anybody right now has lessened the concept of privacy. The fact that girls have Myspace pictures with their legs spread open make me say, What the fuck?
When I started to realize that I was being seen as a role model, I started thinking about what I could do to help the community. There are so many things wrong that I think I can shed light upon. I mean, I can go into a tirade right now about how the public education system has failed our children because those things need to be heard. But thats a different conversation altogether.
DX: Yeah, we do have to have that conversation though. Its funny because sadly people wouldnt expect to hear this type of conversation coming from you.
MF: Im a different person then the girl youve seen in the pictures five and six years ago. Ive been through many transitional phases and seen a lot of shit that has helped shape my views and focus. People would be surprised by my list of friends. They are activists and intellectuals. The business doesnt define who I am. Im not out there trying to attract attention so the bloggers can start writing about me. I dont do that. If anything, I try to shy away from that.
DX: Do you have any regrets with anything youve done up to this point of your career?
MF: I will say that there are people that come before you that create footprints for you to follow. Theres now a path that has been laid out for you. I cant live with regrets because oftentimes the difficulties you face are because you needed to tell the story in order for somebody else to avoid the pitfalls that you may have fell into. On my Myspace page [click to view] I call myself "the pioneer" because I am.