La La Vazquez Talks Movies and Motherhood
La La Vazquez can't help but walk around with a big ol' smile on her face: She recently married her sweetie of seven years, NBA star Carmelo Anthony, on camera, and the resulting reality show, "La La's Full Court Wedding," has rocked VH1 since it premiered. With he big-screen debut, "The Gun" (opposite Val Kilmer and 50 Cent), coming this January, this busy mom of one (to son Kiyan) kindly spared a few seconds to chat with us about movies and motherhood.
momlogic: Your reality show has done really well -- congrats! You've produced a bunch of shows and you've hosted shows, but what was it like to be on a reality show?
La La Vazquez: Actually, I enjoyed the experience tremendously. The difference for me is I knew exactly what it was going into it. Being on camera my whole life, whether hosting "TRL" or being on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," I already knew what to expect. One thing I say to people is, if you don't want to show your life or put yourself out there, then reality TV may not be what you want to do. I think the audience can sense when you're holding back or being "fake" or whatever. I really enjoyed it and I was ready to put it out there for people. That can be a little bit nerve-wracking, because you don't know how people are going to respond, but to get the response that I did was just incredible.
ml: So you have a movie coming out in January?
LV: Yes! I'm actually meeting up with "Fifty" today to talk about the project and some of his other movie deals. I'm going to see what I can squeeze myself into!
ml: Your little man, Kiyan, is three. Was it challenging to balance doing a reality show with hanging out with him?
LV: I had him be as much a part of it as he could be. I know people are 50/50 when it comes to that, but it wouldn't be my reality if you didn't see my son. I'm a hands-on parent; I raise my son and I don't hand him off to somebody else to raise him, so not having my son be a part of it would be a lie to the audience. He's involved in everything I do. Kiyan is in school for a good portion of the day, so during those hours I knock out as much as I can. It's all about managing your schedule and moving things around, just like any other working parent would do.
ml: How are you finding the "threes"?
LV: Fun and challenging all at once! Three is where they are finding themselves, so they have a lot of answers to things. It's definitely challenging and fun, seeing his personality really blossom into what it's going to be now. He said he can't wait until he turns four, because then he can drive. I said, "You can drive?" And he said, "When I'm four I can drive and I can't wait."
ml: Did he say anything on the wedding day that blew your mind?
LV: To this day, he'll call it "the day that we got married." Which we kind of told him -- that we were all getting married. He really believes it was all of us; he doesn't differentiate that it was something between Mom and Dad. He thinks it was a big party and keeps asking, "When are we going to have another wedding?"
ml: It's stressful to plan a wedding, period. What was it like to plan a wedding on TV?
LV: Honestly, you forget the cameras are even there. After a while, you are so mixed up in doing what you're doing. They're just kind of following you, then they just disappear. You're so engrossed in menus and cake tastings and Mindy Weiss that you don't even see the cameras. That's when the best TV comes out, because you're just being your natural self.
ml: Was getting married different to you than just being together?
LV: For me, it feels the same. My husband and I have been together for seven years, so not many different things are going to happen now. But inside myself, I have that little place that no one else has to know about where I think, "We did it! It's done!" You smile inside, because you know that it's technically official now. But I definitely feel that the overall dynamics of the relationship haven't changed.
ml: Was there anything about acting in your first film that surprised you?
LV: I moved here to L.A. when I was a teenager and I was hired in radio out here. I don't think you can be in L.A. in any form of entertainment and not get bitten by the acting bug. It's something I've been wanting to do for a very long time. The job at MTV came calling first. Anybody in their right mind making a very small amount of money who got an offer to host "TRL" would never turn it down for the love of asking -- no one's going to do that!
ml: HELLS NO!
LV: Exactly! So it led me down a different path, and now I'm trying to find my way back into the acting world, because I do have a passion for it. It lets you be creative and free and really express yourself. It's no-holds-barred. You can't care what anybody thinks. You've just got to go out there and be open to criticism from other people. It works on your self-esteem -- that's why I really enjoy it.
ml: You get to be someone else on camera, instead of yourself.
LV: Absolutely. I'm just a person who believes one person doesn't have to just do one thing. Being a TV host for the longest time, that's how people wanted to see me. Then I did the reality show and now I'm becoming this reality TV person, then I have the movie coming out. I want to be a person who's able to cross the board and do different things, and you don't see that too often, especially coming from being an MTV VJ. You kind of get grouped into being the only thing that you can really do and I just totally disagree with that.
ml: As a mom, it's daunting to take on something new because it takes up so much energy.
LV: I never settle -- I'm always up for the challenge. My mom always says that no matter how many times they slam the door in your face, you're going to keep knocking, so that's how it is for me. With acting, I'm not going to let up until I make my mark, because it's something I really want to do. I feel like if you're passionate about something and willing to put the work in and the time in, you will get better and get to the point where you want to be. Like I'm taking a seven-hour acting class. You have to be willing to put that kind of commitment in.
ml: How do you balance it with parenting?
LV: I try to make the bulk of my workday during Kiyan's school hours so when it's Kiyan-and-Mom time, he definitely has my undivided attention. I'll carve out a couple of hours that day where there's no phone, no BlackBerry -- just he and I doing an activity that he wants to do. Kids live in our world, so they like to see you get engrossed in their world as well. Just taking the time out to be in their world makes all the difference.
ml: In this digital world, do you feel like it's hard to cut yourself off sometimes?
LV: I don't find it hard, but I do have to make a conscious effort to say, "It's six o'clock, everything's going off for an hour to two [so I can] bathe him, read a book, play a game then put him to bed and then get back to work." Once I do it, it's just done. I just laugh because every time I do it, that's when the biggest whatever happens and I'm not available to everybody! I'm on the phone all day and it has to happen during the two hours I shut off my phone! That's just the way of the world. On weekends we always try to get an activity in. Kiyan is at that age where he's starting to have playdates with kids at his school, so I'm entering into the world of him socializing with other kids and going to each other's houses and that's cool, too. He's having fun hanging out with his friends and doing things they like to do.
ml: What's next for you? Would you do another reality show?
LV: The big thing is the movie, but I'm just really exploring my options. The reality show did do so well, so it opened up a lot of doors -- including one where I have to ask myself if I want to continue doing that. So I'm kind of putting everything on the table and figuring out what's the next best thing. I can't help but quote my mom, who I get all my life lessons from, who says, "It's great to have options. When you don't have options, that's when you need to worry." I have a couple of great options on the table and I'm going to explore them and figure out what the next thing is.
ml: What's the most important lesson your mom taught you that you'd like to share with Kiyan?
LV: The most important, yet most simple lesson, is basically treating people how you want to be treated. As corny or cliche as it sounds, I treat everybody the way I want to be treated and treat everybody like a human being, whether they are at the bottom of the totem pole or the top -- because in life, you'll see those roles reverse so easily and so quickly. As you get older, you apply it differently, but the same rule works.