Elise Neal has been putting in work for more than three decades. The Memphis, Tennessee native fell in love with the arts at a young age, and her passion hasn’t waned since. After graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Neal moved to New York to pursue acting and dancing before making her way to Los Angeles.
Once in LA, Neal’s career took off and she landed a role on the soap opera Loving. The actress became a household name after co-staring on The Hughleys alongside comedian D.L. Hughley, before transitioning to film with leading parts in Scream 2, Rosewood, Money Talks, and Hustle & Flow. While Neal has experienced massive success, she’s had her fair share setbacks to. Breaking off engagement with director F. Gary Gray was painful and losing her mother dealt the actress a devastating blow. Still, Neal has managed to pick herself up, brush herself off and inspire her fans.
EBONY caught up with the actress ahead of the premiere of the Centric show, Being, to see what it’s really like to be Elise Neal.
EBONY: So many celebrities opt to keep their lives private. Why did you want to do this show and let your fans know who you really are?
Elise Neal: I wanted people to hear my life from my words. We live in a world where no one listens to facts; they do Google searches. That’s not a human being’s story. So here’s a piece of my life from my lips.
EBONY: Why is it so important to you to encourage other women to love themselves?
Neal: I always get asked what I’m doing to stay fit. So to help my sisters feel good and understand they can be fit also I created Elise’s Body Bootcamp. I did the first one during Super Bowl weekend, and it’s a one hour event with a nutritional expert giving tips and answers to questions. Then the rest of the class gets a personal workout class with me. The ladies really loved it, and left with tips and exercises they could do to stay fit. We are figuring out the next City RIGHT NOW!
EBONY: You’ve been in the business for three decades, what’s the key to longevity?
Neal: They key to longevity is to take the job seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously. I take my business serious, and the people I work with, we work hard. But I don’t take myself serious and I laugh at myself all the time and we listen to music and enjoy the good and the bad. And with seven different TV shows–five as a series regular and the rest recurring and now the record breaking world wide no. 1 film, Logan–all is possible. Never Give up.
EBONY: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten over the years? What’s the worst?
Neal: Worse advice: Don’t ever leave my hometown of Memphis, TN.
BEST advice: Never let anyone put you in a box , you are one special person. You sing, dance, write, act. Do it all baby girl!
EBONY: What’s next?
Neal: Coming up next I have more Elise Body Bootcamps, I’m in developing a scripted series and a health and lifestyle TV show. Also, Logan is in theaters now.
Being airs Saturdays nights at 10pm on Centric.