Will Smith Was Vivica A. Fox’s Acting Coach on One of Her Most Iconic Films

Vivica A. Fox has worked on-screen alongside Will Smith in several projects. She considers him to be a dear friend and recently revealed that he served as her acting coach in one of her first major roles. The film, Set It Off, went on to become synonymous with Fox’s career.

Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox
Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Vivica A. Fox co-starred alongside Will Smith on his television show and first major film role

Fox first worked with Smith during a guest appearance on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She starred in a 1991 episode as the bossy date of Smith’s character. 

Interestingly, when she learned of Smith starring in Independence Day and that almost all of Hollywood was auditioning for the role of his on-screen wife, she practically had to beg for an audition.

Source: YouTube

Related: Vivica A.Fox Shared How Jada Pinkett Smith Felt About Her Kissing Will Smith in ‘Independence Day’

“I just did Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with him, it was awesome, I’ve worked with Will, I know Will,” she says she told her agent in a chat with Vlad TV. “They were like, ‘Honey…you just do not have a big enough name. This is going to be a $60 million [movie budget]….they’re only looking for A-listers.’”

Luckily, the producer’s wife saw Fox on a soap opera and felt she had the chops, recommending that he go after Fox for the role. Fox had to audition six times before landing the role. 

Will Smith was Vivica A. Fox’s acting coach for ‘Set It Off’

After landing Independence Day, film offers for Fox began to roll in. She was soon cast in the F. Gary Gray directed the film Set It Off, a story about four friends who decide to become bank robbers amid difficult financial times.

Fox starred in the film alongside Queen Latifah, Kimberly Elise, and Jada Pinkett. Fox played the role of Francesca “Frankie” Sutton, a bank teller who loses her job after it’s discovered that she fails to follow proper protocol during a robbery due to fear. 

Source: YouTube

Related: Vivica A. Fox Reveals Who Almost Played Frankie in ‘Set It Off’

Interestingly, Pinkett was dating Smith at the time, who she’d eventually marry. In a recent interview with Vlad TV, Fox reveals that Smith was a major help to her.

“Will Smith was actually my acting coach for that,” she gushed. “He coached me for the role of Frankie in our trailers while we were filming Independence Day because the director F. Gary Gray came to visit me on the set of Independence Day.”

‘Set It Off’ became a cult classic

The film was released in 1996. It made $41 million against a budget of $9 million. According to Tribute Magazine, Set It Off became New Line Cinema’s highest-grossing film of 1996. Gray won a Black Film Award for Best Director, as well as the Special Jury Prize at the Cognac Film Festival. The film also received generally favorable reviews from critics. 

A 1996 Variety review praises Fox’s performance, noting, “Always congenial, Fox is good in showing the fine line between legit and criminal behavior.” Of the overall film, the review also notes, “Set It Off” is a well-crafted girls-n-the-hood actioner, with an acute social conscience and plenty of soul.” 

Source: YouTube

Related: How Vivica A. Fox Really Feels About the ‘Set It Off’ Remake

The film is often aired on cable television networks. 

An accompanying soundtrack was also released, with the popular single “Missing You” performed by Brandy, Gladys Knight, Tamia, and Chaka Khan. All singles from the soundtrack had accompanying music videos. The soundtrack was eventually certified platinum.