From "Star Search" to professional actress...
By Deanna Martin-Osuagwu
Singer/actress Countess Vaughn made us laugh for years as Kimberly Parker on Moesha and The Parkers. The 35-year-old, who got her start as a little girl on Star Search and 227, catches us up with her latest projects.
JET: What have you been working on?
Countess Vaughn: I never took a hiatus. People see that I’ve become a mother. I’ve always been working. I’ve kept myself out there. Thank God for reruns— I’ve got a new audience. I’ve never missed a beat.
JET: Where can we see you next?
CV: More to Love with Tichina Arnold, out on DVD. It’s a romantic comedy. We both play lawyers.
JET: Are you planning to record any more albums?
CV: I love music and I always will. I write music: R&B, a little hint of gospel. I love so many different musical styles. I’m all across the board.
JET: Which do you love more, singing or acting?
CV: Even though I discovered acting later, I’m equally passionate about both.
JET: What do you enjoy about being a performer?
CV: I love the feedback from the fans. Especially how you can inspire a fan to keep going. It makes me feel good to put a smile on someone’s face and touch someone’s heart.
JET: What was your experience like competing on Star Search back in 1988? How did your life change?
CV: Exciting. It had been a dream my whole life. To see it actually happen was truly a fantasy. While you’re doing it, you’re so busy you can’t be in the moment. The enjoyment came when I won. It was a little stressful, but I’d do it all over again. I went from living in a small town of 5,000 to becoming a city girl within a couple of months.
JET: What is your favorite memory about being on the ’80s sitcom 227?
CV: Hanging out with Regina King. She accepted me like I was her little sister. It was fun. She looked out for me.
JET: What was the most challenging aspect of being a child star?
CV: Being in a fish bowl. Having to be a role model. Wanting to make your own mistakes and learning from them. Watching what you do.
JET: Would you encourage your kids to go into the entertainment business?
CV: If it’s something that they want, I’d support it. You hone in on whatever is positive.
JET: Why do you feel it was important to partner with Jackie Elam to advocate for child actors’ safety on sets?
CV: From being on the set, I’d see how parents would leave kids unsupervised. You need someone closer than the set teacher whom you can trust to look out for your child. When children are mainly on an adult set, they’re exposed to things. Be there for your child, cover your child. The sets are not a daycare. My parents were adamant about supervising me. I thank God that they stayed close.
JET: Do you still feel typecast as Kimberly Parker, a character you portrayed for eight years?
CV: Anytime you do a character bigger than life, they’re going to ask you to do it. You have to be able to make the change to get the different roles.
JET: What’s the best show business advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?
CV: My mother would tell me that no matter what level you’re at, you have to know how to work it out in a positive way. Stay positive.
JET: What is your relationship status?
CV: For the past eight years, I’ve been in a longtime relationship with my high school sweetheart. We met when we were 15.
JET: What keeps you grounded?
CV: I pray every day. I try to be a good person. I keep it simple. I treat people how I want to be treated.
JET: Why did you want to become a national spokesperson for Ellaboo’s Ovarian Cancer Foundation?
CV: Minorities need to get tested for ovarian cancer. The earlier, the better. We tend to put ourselves on the backburner and take care of the family first. We need to pay attention to ourselves. Many women ignore the pain, thinking it’s only menstrual cramps. But it’s very serious. A pap smear doesn’t detect it. It’s a silent killer. Cancer has really affected my life. I’ve lost friends and a co-star. I really want to get this message out there. You just want to make a change in the world. It’s time to grow up and teach the next generation. To get more information, people can go to ellaboosangels.org.
JET: What made you get into the beauty product business?
CV: I was on the set doing a reality show and I was wearing a lace-front wig that burned me very badly. My skin was peeling off and I couldn’t be under set lights or wear makeup. So I decided that I wanted to take my time about what will go into my brand of natural lace-fronts. No one should go through the drama I did.
I now have a partnership and hair endorsement with Hair Are Us along with hair care products sponsored by Pure Beauty Essentials for Pure Virgin Hair of Atlanta, GA.
JET: What are you most looking forward to showing fans with your possible docu-series and reality project?
CV: I want to come back in a positive way. I’m not about drinking and fighting. I’m about delivering a message and growing from it. So the show would be a combination of me growing, and getting to know me better.
JET: What’s your five-year plan?
CV: I’d like to do more voiceovers for animation, and more serious roles. I have range. Lena Dunham’s character on the HBO show Girls needs a sistah friend. I could bring the drama.
JET: What are you most thankful for?
CV: I appreciate my whole team. There are angels around me, from my family to my management. It’s pure love. I’m blessed. I have truly been blessed.
Follow Countess on Twitter at @CountessDVaughn!