Entertainment Lead Story Local News Sports West Edition

HELPING SPARKS FLY

LOS ANGELES — Vivica A. Fox is more than an actress, producer and entrepreneur. She’s a superfan and ambassador for the Los Angeles Sparks.

Fox is so passionate about women’s basketball, she’s a courtside season ticket holder at Staples Center.

“Sometimes I think I’m the referee and I want to ref the game. I want to get out there and throw some elbows,” Fox said.

On Dec. 2, Fox hosted the Sparks’ first “The Purple Print” question-and-answer event with Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. The event, which was attended by about 150 people at L.A. Live, gave fans a behind- the-scenes look into the Sparks organization.

One of the main topics was how to grow the WNBA’s fan base and convert naysayers. 

“Many people that judge the WNBA or the Sparks … they’ve never actually experienced it,” Fisher said. “They’ve never actually been there. They’ve never actually seen it for themselves.”  

Fisher is a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

“Anyone that I’ve brought to a (Sparks) game has wanted to come back and come to another game for sure,” Fox added.

Her support is appreciated by the Los Angeles Sparks President Danita Johnson.

“I think we live in a place and time right now where we know ambassadors and influencers make big impact on business,” Johnson said. “It takes multiple voices to elevate us in this space and having an ambassador like her is so valid and so important to us as an organization.”

Fox’s love for basketball runs deep. She grew up playing high school basketball in Indiana. 

She is best known for starring in major films like “Independence Day,” “Set It Off” and “Soul Food.”

However, there’s a special place in her heart for basketball. That’s why she was so excited to play a leading role in a 2002 women’s basketball movie named “Juwanna Mann” featuring cameos from WNBA stars Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes.

Meanwhile, Fox is more than willing to lend her name and more importantly her time to help grow the long-term viability of the WNBA. 

“Me as a celebrity, whatever I can do, especially for the WNBA because these girls work hard,” Fox said. “The majority of them know are in Europe playing another season so that they can economically survive.

“I would love for them to only have to play in America and get major contracts and major endorsements. So as a celebrity, if I can help that come into fruition, I’m all for it.”

For the past five years, she has put her money behind her personal fandom, sponsoring the LA Sparks through the Vivica A. Fox Hair Collection. 

“That is the goal of what I have been doing for the last five years is to bring more exposure to the WNBA,” Fox said. “This season I went to the WNBA Finals as a fan. … I didn’t ask for free tickets. I paid for everything just to show my support.”

Fox also believes the examples set by WNBA players can empower young girls on and off the court. 

“Show your young girls that they too can become a (world-class) athlete. … It is just as entertaining as the NBA and our ladies need to be supported and get all the endorsements and recognition just as much as men do, ” Fox said. 

By John W. Davis

Contributing Writer