*We caught up with Vanessa Simmons to dish about starring alongside Monica Calhoun in the new BET+ thriller “Deadly Entanglement.”
Simmons is best known for appearing on the iconic reality series, “Run’s House” on MTV which chronicled the lives of the Simmons family and how she and her sister Angela built their sneaker line, Pastry. She is also a main cast member on WETV’s “Growing Up Hip Hop,” and has appeared on BET’s “Games People Play” and UMC’s “Monogamy.”
In “Deadly Entanglement,” Simmons stars as Tammy, a singer on the brink of stardom who has her life turned upside down when her producer husband’s ex-wife (Diedra) reemerges, determined to get her old life back by any means.
Check out the trailer for “Deadly Entanglement” below.
In our exclusive interview with Simmons, she gushed about landing her dream acting role with this project, working with Monica Calhoun, and the physicality of certain scenes. As a dedicated beauty and wellness enthusiast and founder of U4IA (pronounced euphoria), Simmons also shared a few self-care tips for the summer. Get into our Q&A below.
Talk about your character Tammy, and what was it about her and this story that compelled you to want to be a part of this project?
Vanessa Simmons: Well, number one, it’s one of those movies that is a wild ride that you just can’t look away from. When I was reading the script, it was one of those things that I was like, ‘oh, my God. What’s going to happen here?’ I got to live out my fantasy of being a singer. My character is a famous singer on the brink of superstardom and she’s involved in a bad entanglement unbeknownst to her because her husband has dealings with his ex-wife that are just not all the way cleared away. My character gets caught in the crossfire of that. I would like to say she’s completely innocent. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but Monica Calhoun’s character, Deidra, is back and she’s back with a vengeance and I am number one on her target list.
It was obviously such an amazing experience getting to work alongside a legend like Monica Calhoun. I’ve been watching her on the big screen since I’ve been a child myself, wanting to be an actress. So it was one of those moments that was just outer body experience. I moved to LA all these years ago to become a professional actress. I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs and challenges. To actually have the opportunity to act alongside such a powerhouse actress was definitely a moment for me, very special. The film was amazing to film. Being a part of it and being able to tell this really crazy, wild, fun story was a moment for me.
What did you most enjoy about exploring the dynamic between these two female energies?
It was incredible for me as an actress to take on a role that was definitely challenging for me. There was a lot of stunts in there for me and I’ve never done that as an actress. I’ve always had stunt doubles for the parts where they’re a little bit physical. In this case, we were actually trained. That was a new experience for me and having to dive into it, it was definitely a lot of pressure. I was nervous, but it was really cool to have to get into that. And yeah, just the experience of the two different women and the dynamics between us was definitely something new for me.
Like I said, I really enjoyed playing along Monica Calhoun. I learned so much from her just being able to play on-screen with her and then also just for me as an actress, getting to dive in and create a character like Tammy and getting the chance to not pretend, because when you’re acting, you’re creating a real world and just to be able to live out my fantasy of being a famous singer. I was like, ‘oh, that would have been nice if I actually were this big superstar singer.’ It was just a lovely experience for me and I’m very thankful that I got to do it. There were a lot of times when I would leave set at night and I would just be a little bit weepy crying on the way home. I can’t believe that after all these years, 10 years I’ve been here pursuing the pursuit of being an actress, this is definitely a full circle moment for me and it’s worth every single rejection that I have faced.
Did you do anything particularly special to prepare for this role?
Oh, yeah. I pull out all the stops. I wanted to really embody what it would be like to be a full-on top star. I got training from other singers. I would have the mannerisms in the studio. Of course, I did my acting work and really helped to build out the character. But I got really into it for two weeks. You couldn’t tell me that I was not a top of the Billboard charts artist while I was doing this. I had a big head.
Is there anything about Tammy’s journey that resonates with you in terms of the personal drama and life stressors that she has to navigate?
Yeah. There are always aspects of my own life or other women that I know in life that I put into my character. I’ll never tell those secrets or what it is that I’m infusing to really get into that moment, but I feel like there are definitely relatable themes throughout the film that women go through. I hope that they would never resort to trying to harm anybody else in the process, but sometimes these kinds of things come up in entanglements that can trigger you. It’s just all about keeping a cool and calm, collected, and logical way of thinking to not resort to rage in that way. But I do believe that as women, we’re so dynamic and we go through a lot of experiences that there are definitely some relatable themes in there, but let’s never resort to violence as a result of any of that.
There are relatable things from … Tammy just being the new wife and then having to experience all of this rage from the ex-wife that she doesn’t even know why she’s the target of it. She’s just trying to love her husband in the best way and nurture her relationship and then you have this woman who may have not had the best relationship with him, but as a result of their relationship, maybe he wanted to be a better man. Unfortunately, that happens in life because we’re always growing and evolving.
Will viewers be surprised by where these characters end up when this film ends?
I definitely think it’s a journey and it’s definitely a plot twist all through it, so I do think that viewers will be more surprised by the story and where it leads than the typical movie like this. I don’t want to give away too much for those people who haven’t watched it, but I’ve been getting really great reviews and people saying they really enjoyed the story at the end. It’s definitely something out of the ordinary than something that I would do. I’ve never done a film like this before. You guys have never seen me in this form.
If you were friends with Tammy or Deidra in real life, knowing what you know, their history and what they go through in the film before things turn deadly, what advice would you give each of them?
It’s so funny because I was watching this film with my best friend the day it came out and she’s yelling at the screen and she’s like, “Come on, Tammy, smarten up. You can’t see this woman doesn’t like you?” What advice would I give her? It’s going to sound corny but to lead with love. That’s all you can do to diffuse sticky and uncomfortable situations for all around. It’s just to lead with your best self and that would be to lead with love. That would be my advice to both women because Deidra is hurt and I understand her take on it as well as of course Tammy who’s like the victim in it or I’ll say, but lead with love.
Lastly, as the founder of U4IA (an online community built around fact-based beauty and wellness tips), do you have self-care or skincare tips you can share?
Yes. Especially for the summer, I’m going to say lemon and water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, or lime and water. Lime tends to be a little bit more effective. Drink up your water. Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re putting on your sunscreen. When you’re doing the lemon and water, here’s a trick. Using vitamin C with that will make your skin glow beyond belief and lymphatic drainage massages. They help to just dump all the toxins out of your body and you can do that on your face and your body and you will see a huge, huge, huge, huge result with that. Drinking lemon and water, lime and water in the morning, vitamin C drops, take care of the hyperpigmentation and just get that glow going, and lymphatic drainage massages and even on your face. It works miracles. Try it. Come back to me. I promise you you’ll have good results.
“Deadly Entanglement” is now streaming on BET+.
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