She’s conquered the big and small screens appearing in box office hits like Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and John Singleton’s Rosewood, Frightening and fun flicks like Scream 2, Idlewild, and Hustle & Flow starring opposite Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. And these are just a few of the many films Elise Neal has appeared in. She also has a long standing career in television appearing in some of our old school favorites like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and Hanging with Mr. Cooper. A bit more recently, she co-starred opposite comedian D.L. Hughly in The Hughley’s, and in Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s, All of Us. But acting isn’t all that Neal does. This multifaceted starlet laid her voice to the tracks of a song that showed up on the soundtrack of the movie 4 Life in which she also appeared. Yup! The girl can sing and dance. Her current undertaking: Assorted Flavors – a new all girl group Elise started. Now, don’t think this is just another celebrity trying to go from one extreme to the next just to create multiple streams of income with questionable talent in her new ventures. This is not the case with Elise Neal. She was already multi-talented. Training as a ballerina with aspiration of one day becoming a Solid Gold dancer from an early age, Neal showed America just how talented she was when she showed up on Star Search before a career as a professional dancer, as well as Broadway and in many musicals. Now, Elise has returned to her first love of song and dance. With her group Assorted Flavors whose members, including Elise herself, are from talented and diverse backgrounds in the entertainment arena; Neal is setting to bring forth fresh, new change to the music world. Promising more than just a performance, there’ll be much emphasis on the style and delivery of the performance Assorted Flavors will have to offer. Excited about the group and what’s to come, Neal hasn’t put Tinseltown or television on the backburner. In fact, look for her and Assorted Flavors on VH1 soon in not one but two reality shows. Neal’s longevity in the game is crazy phenomenal and her star continues to emit immense shine.
Join in the conversation as Clutch catches up on more news happening in the life of this high performing actress/singer/dancer – diva!
Clutch: Tell us about your new group Assorted Flavors!
Elise: Right now with my group Assorted Flavors, I’m really doing a lot of things. It’sreally a labor of love for me because singing and dancing is how I got my start. It’s always been a passion of mine. I thought I would be on Broadway and doing that type of thing for the rest of my life. So, it’s really a great thing for me to have produced and created this show that gives me the opportunity to still perform. Currently what I’m doing is searching for a great single for the group, but the big thing we’re doing is putting together what I hope to be a mainstay in Las Vegas, New York, and possibly around the world.
Clutch: What kind of music are you guys putting out there?
Elise: It’s very R&B and hip-hop driven. It’s all on the Assorted Flavors MySpace page. I’m looking forward to being a multimedia experience with a larger-than-life vibe. I’m definitely not trying to give away what that is, but the concept that we’re working towards is really a great one.
Clutch: Are you currently working on an album?
Elise: More so a single than an album right now. My main focus is producing the stage show.
Clutch: Other than your stage show, which is really a fresh idea, what are some other ways your group is different from other girl groups now and in the past?
Elise: I think a difference when I put it together was just bringing together all the things that I know. I’m a person that comes from all angles. I know about staging because I performed on Broadway and in musicals most of my life. I know about holding the attention of an audience from being in television and film, and knowing what’s new and what people are into. Also, I’m a fan of music and I’ve loved music my entire life. I’m a girl from Memphis, Tennessee, so I like to listen to music that’s hip. I’ve tried to put all these aspects together in the routines that we do and in the music that we or other writers create for the group. I like to have all those elements. I don’t think a lot of artists put that much attention into their music. For me, it’s all about finding the right thing; finding a new sound and really creating something special.
Clutch: Anyone we know working on the single?
Elise: I’m actually looking at a lot of different writers who have approached the group. Right now, I don’t have but one because I feel like we don’t have or heard “it” yet. You know, the single that makes you go, oh yeah, this is the next song! We do have one song I love that I’m holding on to though.
Clutch: Well one thing the group definitely has down is style! Speaking of style, when it comes to yours how would you describe it?
Elise: Again, it depends on how I wake up. I’ll be the first to say that the characters I play are not me. When you’ve been in television for as long as I have, people think they have a sense of who you are as a person. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “Oh hey Elise, what’s going on?” And I’ll wonder if I might know them from somewhere? I think I’m a lot more hip and into fashion. Most of the fashion that I admire is from overseas. I spend a lot of time looking through Vogue Italia and Vogue Paris. I kind of look to these magazines as guides, and I get a lot of my inspiration for how I dress on the regular from them. I like to dress all kinds of ways, and I do put my own twist on things. One day I’ll wake-up and want to be girly and another I’ll want to wake-up and throw on some boots or something. You know, it just depends.
Clutch: Whose creations are we most likely to see you step out on the red carpet in?
Elise: This also depends on my mood. I have to say I love new designers. I love watching shows like Project Runway to see what new talent is going to come out. A lot of times they’re innovative and fresh. I was just doing a shoot and I requested Korto Momolu who was in Project Runway. So it was kind of cool to have her want to work with me. There are a lot of different designers that I love. I’ll wear anything from Gucci to Roberto Cavalli.
Clutch: Now, you’re about to step behind the camera to produce your own reality show. Tell us about that.
Elise: Producing has been a lifetime goal of mine, and one of the things that helped me to make the decision to go forward was producing my group. I love creating things. Some people think it’s just cool to be in front of the camera, I love coming from ground zero and making the idea work. The show will be coming up on VH1 very soon, and basically it’s about Black women in Hollywood. It’s Claudia Jordan, Melissa Ford, I and possibly a fourth person, but we’re still looking. So, you’ll be seeing that show air very shortly. Outside of that show I’m also creating and producing my own reality show that VH1 is also interested in. It’s a dream to create my own programming and follow in the footsteps of Oprah, Tyra Banks and Tyler Perry.
Clutch: Reality TV is the hotness right now, can’t wait for that! I have a picture of you with your group Assorted Flavors and you look great. How do you stay so fit and fabulous?
Elise: Thank you. You and thousands of other women ask me that often. One of the other reasons I wanted to do a reality show is because I wanted people to get a better sense of me. People have their own perceived notions of who you are as an individual from seeing you act. They think oh this person is this, that, or whatever, and being able to do a reality show gives you and other people in reality and branding to put yourself out there in all aspects. Women do ask me for workout tips, so I’ll be putting out a workout DVD. For me, working out is not that big of a deal. I think that the first rule of being fit is to know that staying in shape is a good thing. A lot of people say ugh! I don’t want to work out. Take away the negative to keeping your body healthy. How about that? For me, it’s very easy. Starting out in musical theatre, in the mornings I would wake-up and do an hour of ballet, in the afternoon its tap, in the evening its jazz class, and then I would go home to do it all over again. So working out to stay fit and keep myself healthy is not a big deal. I feel like if the average person would train themselves to say it’s really not really that big of a deal to take one hour out of a 24 hour day as opposed to begrudging it, I think people would be a lot healthier. It’s a good thing to take care of your body. It’s helping you out in the long haul, trust me. I feel better on the days I workout than on the days that I don’t, and it’s a stress reliever. Barry’s Boot Camp is the best workout in Hollywood right now, so I do that, the gym, and ballet to stay flexible. I like to mix it up.
Clutch: So what sort of goodies do you carry around with you in that clutch of yours?
Elise: My camera which is very tiny, lip gloss, and Vaseline! I’m a big Vaseline fan. I have a travel size that goes everywhere with me. I can use it if I’m ashy or if I need to slick my hair down. I can use it for lots of reasons.