*Elise Neal has been around for a long time. Longer than most remember for that matter. In addition to appearing in such films as “Hustle and Flow,” “Scream 2″ and “Malcolm X,” Elise may also be considered the forerunner to the modern day video vixen. She is immensely talented, more so than most know. So, when we found out she was going to be featured on tonight’s repeat episode of TV One’s “Life After” (9:30pm EST/6:30pm PST) we were slightly puzzled to say the least. Life after what?
“For me it has been so many different facets of where my career has been,” Neal told EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “There’s a lot of it that people are not familiar with and there’s a part that people are. I don’t think people know me, the person, as much as they know me, the character. (‘Life After’) was a way for me to talk about all of my passions and all of the things that I’ve done and just really kind of remind people of my journey and if they didn’t know anything about my journey then they have a better understanding.”
The journey is what life is all about, or so some might say. There are winding roads, blind curves, hills, peaks and valleys. But there are also chapters and every chapter comes to an end.
“I looked at it more as, after each thing there’s a beginning and end,” she said. “That’s why I did it. It’s ‘Life After’ I was known as a performer. It’s a ‘Life After’ doing ‘All of Us’ and everybody thought it was drama. In this business things start and stop, but everybody has questions. A lot of it is people being nosey, but people have questions. It wasn’t about me was a one hit wonder. A lot of people ask me ‘What happened after you decided to stop doing ‘All of Us’? Was it drama?’ Well, now you will know what happened and how that happened.”
Some people do biopic types of television shows because they feel they owe the world some sort of explanation. But Ms. Neal didn’t feel that way. However she does want to clear up a few misconstrued ideas surrounding her career.
“It wasn’t that I felt that I had one thing that I had to explain.” said Neal. “There was a lot of stuff. As a performer, who is not a celebrity for being a celebrity, people don’t know the real reasons for things. They have to make up a lot of things themselves. So, it was a way for me to kind of clear the air about a lot of different things.”
But, unlike some other former Hollywood actresses, Neal says she is working and is not some sad sack pining for the good ol’ days.
“I work all the time. I still have things in (Hollywood) that I feel like I want to accomplish. I’m still here trying to accomplish those. I don’t think I’m 100 percent ready to buy a place back in my old hometown and start a new life for myself. I’m happy with my life here. Everyone has different reasons for doing things. I am not unhappy with the things that are going on here.”
Yep, when we heard Elise Neal was going to be on TV One’s “Life After” we kind of turned our head sideways, not unlike the old RCA logo with the dog staring at the speaker. But as she continued to break it down, from her point of view, it began to make sense.
“I watch the TV show and that’s why I agreed to do it. Everyone who has a life after something is not bitter. It’s not a bad thing to have wants and dreams to go on after something. My journey is a little different. I am a little bit of a different type of person anyway. I am a very positive, into myself type of person who doesn’t worry about what the next person is doing. I’ve always said that don’t change the amount of money I’m making by focusing on somebody else. I need to focus on myself!”
In other words, you’re just doing you, so she gonna do her. Though “Life After” speaks about her acting career it also speaks about life after her whole swagger was jacked, hook, line and sinker. Elise Neal is also a singer and stage performer who has quite a story of betrayal to tell about some former business partners and a feline themed pop group.
“When they were interviewing me for this piece, maybe a month ago. They were like ‘Elise, do you have anything that proves that this happened?’ she explained of the TV One execs reaction to her story. “I was like Hell, yeah! What do you need? You need dates? You need times? You got some signs? I sent them all this stuff and all the tapes from the shows, timelines and things like that. They were hitting me up left and right. I think people didn’t believe me. I don’t think people believe I have the passion that I have for my performances when they first hear them. So, I think people got to get over that. Then they have to believe how into this I really was and how I created this thing. It really hurt.”
If you haven’t figured it out by now Neal is talking about being robbed of an entire concept by trusted advisors and the Pussycat Dolls.
“I was working with the same people that put them together. So, it was the same people who put together the Pussycat Dolls. In the beginning, when they first were starting, they were first doing Viper Room, they were trying to figure out what type of musical path they were going to have. This is, of course, before they hit because their hit came from me. The song ‘Don’t Cha’ was actually a late 90s club hit by this small little Puerto Rican girl who did not have the desire to go forward into the business, and it was written by Cee-Lo.
“My hair dresser would listen to this song all the time while he was doing my hair and he had the Puerto Rican girl’s version of the song. Even though nobody really remembered, I remembered that song. I thought ‘That would be perfect! Nobody will know it but it’s a sexy song. Let’s do that!’ I had a show lined up and some of the dolls saw my show and they immediately went to Cee-Lo, his camp, and bought the rights and put out a single, I get a call right before the single drops from one of the people that was working for the company that was also working with the Dolls. ‘Elise, you’re not going to believe this! They took the song!’ Like they didn’t already know!”
According to Q-Tip, industry rule number 4080 says record company people are shady, but what rule warns of the theft of an entire concept?
“It was a blatant fact that they took the whole package. The song didn’t belong to me. The song wasn’t mine and when I started the group I was thinking maybe we could do Prince songs, maybe we could do Teena Marie songs. I didn’t look at it as a recording group. They took the song, and they way they we sang it. The song originally doesn’t sound like that. We put our own stank on that song and made it sound more hip and urban. Now, I’m a stickler with contracts because of this. A stickler! I have people signing all types of confidentiality clauses. That goes into everything I do.”
TV One’s “Life After” featuring Elise Neal airs tonight after the Malcolm Jamal Warner premiere episode at 9:30pm Eastern / 6:30pm Pacific with a repeat broadcast at 12:30am Eastern / 9:30pm Pacific.
EUR Extra Coverage: What you won’t see in Elise Neal’s “Life After” segment: