Keeping the Beat: Q & A with Kimberly Elise

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You might recognize Kimberly Elise from her roles in films with Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey. This summer, Elise is featured in VH1’s new scripted series Hit the Floor, which takes viewers behind the scenes of what she calls the “Mad Hatter world” of pro basketball dance teams. She portrays a former member of a dance team whose daughter signs up for the squad, putting mother and daughter at odds.

Q: How did you get your head around the world of dance teams?

A: I was with a danceline all through high school. A danceline is a group of 15 or so trained dancers who perform intricate dance routines, with kick splits, formations, and precision moves, choreographed to popular music. We danced for school events and competed against other dancelines throughout the state and the country.

Q: Your character on the series is vegan. How did that happen?

A: The producer, director, and I were discussing a dinner scene with the prop person, and knowing I’m vegan they suggested we use veggie burgers since they look like “real hamburgers.” I asked, “Why do they have to look like ‘real hamburgers’? Why can’t they be vegan burgers and we say that?” My producer, James LaRosa, who’s not vegan, chimed in, “I agree! Let’s make the character vegan.” So in one scene it’s casually mentioned that my character is vegan. She’s not walking around carrying a sign, but I don’t have to pretend to eat meat on the show!

Q: Any cooking tips?

A: One of my big things is kale, but I make it in a way that people who don’t like kale love kale. I sauté the kale in onions and garlic and coconut oil, then steam the veggies a bit, add salt and pepper, and that’s it.

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