Soon, Denise Vasi will be trending on Twitter. The actress is the newest single lady on VH1’s hit scripted show "Single Ladies", and she’s trying to brace herself for fans to love her, or hate her or at the very least stick around a few episodes to take her in.
She’s not replacing Stacey Dash’s character altogether—on the show she plays Raquel, a wealthy Southern Belle—but Dash, of course, is no more. Still, fans of the show—and critics, too —will usually describe Vasi as the actress who’s replacing Dash.
Brooklyn-bred actress is hoping that once you get a load of her, and all the drama and comedy and storylines that come with being a single woman in Atlanta, you’ll allow her to stand on her own.
EBONY.com hangs out with Vasi on set in the dining room of her fictional apartment (it comes with a stunning Atlanta skyline, to boot) and she dishes all.
EBONY: Where were you when you got the phone call that this was your new gig?
Denise Vasi: I was going to Beverly Hills Hot Springs to get a body scrub and milk bath! I literally had just gotten my towels and stuff and checked in, and my phone rang and it was my manager. It was the next day after the screen test, and it was Friday, so there was the weekend coming on and the anxiety of waiting. I was like, ‘should I go in?! It’s time for my scrub. Should I answer?’ They had made a decision right away. It was so nice not to have to deal with the anxiety over the weekend.
EBONY: Did you watch the first season of the show?
DV: I watched the pilot. I was filming a soap opera, and it’s every day and we’re shooting over 100 pages a day. So I wasn’t able to watch the full season. I’d heard a lot about the show and I had fans that watch my soap opera that watch "Single Ladies" and … (they) actually gave me the idea to call my manager months prior to the character of Raquel being written and saying, ‘by the way my fans on Twitter told me that there’s an actress leaving a show and there’s going to be a void, let’s stay on top of it, let’s take a meeting, let’s introduce ourselves.’
EBONY: That’s very proactive of you.
DV: I have great fans! They helped me get my next gig. Right before coming out here to start working, I took a three-week vacation and I had VH1 send me the full season and I watched them and in its entirety, one after the other, like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen next?!’
EBONY: What stood out to you?
DV: What I was really excited about was, obviously, the fashion. I’m a big fashionista; I come with a fashion background, so I was very into the clothes, and the gossipy women lifestyle that just seems so true and relatable.
EBONY: It’s a new character, but you’re still replacing Stacey Dash. Any trepidation with that?
DV: No. Stacey Dash played Val and Stacey did a wonderful job and made Val her own, and no one can take that away from her. I think that that was a wise decision for the writers not to attempt that. But at the same time, Stacey Littlejohn, our head writer, wrote that character and wrote her so well, as she does with the others and she wrote a Raquel that’s completely different and I’m a different actress playing a different character. I don’t feel like I’m filling anyone’s shoes. I don’t feel like I’m replacing anybody. Raquel is going to go through something big in the first episode that’s going to make her question everything in her life, and we’ve all been there. We’ve all, like, had that moment of, ‘Why am I doing this? Am I doing this for me? Do I really want to do this? Who am I trying to please? Am I making myself happy? She’s humble and sweet and the believer in love, but she’s a giver and she’s concerned about worldly things, so she’s not stuck in this high society Atlanta, although that’s what she was brought up in.
EBONY: What’s it been like working with LisaRaye?
DV: Oh, it’s hysterical. We find ourselves doing very similar things. She was great. She called me before I moved out to Atlanta and warned me that ‘this is not Hotlanta! Bring a coat, bring a scarf.’ We’re having a bunch of fun.
EBONY: What’s something important we should know about you?
DV: I’m a hugger.
EBONY: You’re affectionate. That’s good …
DV: And I eat a lot.
EBONY: Oh my God. They’re going to hate you. You’re so tiny.
DV: No, I’m telling you, if you eat constantly that’s the way to do it. Everyone on set makes fun of me. I’ll be like, ‘is it lunch time? Can we have some snacks made?’
EBONY: Does that mean you work out a lot too then? Because you look amazing …
DV: No. No. Thank you. I have a big dog that’s literally my only exercise here. We’re on set 15, 16 hours a day, and there’s just enough time to get a little bit of sleep and work on your lines for the next day. Fridays we work into Saturdays so it cuts into the weekend.
EBONY: Are you a single lady yourself?
DV: I’m not a single lady, but I’m not a married lady!
EBONY: Do you bring any parts of your relationship to set?
DV: What I bring to set is my plentiful experience with men! I’ve got 10 girlfriends too … where that’s all we talk about really, right? But my perspective is that a) I have a boyfriend, but I’m not married, so technically, by taxes, I’m single.
EBONY: Has being on this show made you think differently about your own relationship?
DV: Not this one, because thankfully I’m in a very balanced relationship right now. He’s in the business so he understands me and my schedule and my need to stay focused on work, as well as being committed to come see me every two weeks, because I can’t move. So I’m stable there.
EBONY: What advice do you have for single women who’d like to be in a committed relationship?
DV: Date a little older. My boyfriend’s 38 and I just think that he’s in a good place. And I think that you really have to have things settled in your own life to even be looking out there in the field for someone who’s good in their own life. You won’t be happy, nor can you make someone else happy if you’re not happy with yourself. So that’s the first step. Communication is so, so important in every relationship. My biggest thing is sometimes … things sound harsher when they come out of my mouth. Cause I’m from New York, I’m from Brooklyn, I always say sh*t how it is. That’s one thing you want to know about me, I keep it very, very real.
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EBONY Entertainment Editor