On this day in comedy on March 14, 1966 Actress, Elise Neal was born in Memphis, Tennessee
Neal had formal training as a ballet dancer, but an unrelated injury plunged her into musical theater, where she found success touring once she left college. Her ease of manner jettisoned her into commercials and a relocation to Los Angeles, California, where she got busy. Neal danced in music videos (Chubb Rock’s “Just the Two of Us”, Father MC’s “Lisa Baby”, Black Sheep’s “Strobelight Honey”, Dannii Minogue’s “This Is It”), worked on a soap opera (Loving), primetime series (Hangin With Mr. Cooper, SeaQuest 2032), guest starred on sitcoms (Family Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, The Steve Harvey Show, The Wayans Bros.) and appeared in films (Malcolm X, How to Be a Player, Money Talks, Rosewood).
The role that put Neal on the comedy radar was that of Yvonne Hughley, on the D L Hughley sitcom The Hughleys. This was a show that traveled; starting on ABC; where it did a two-season tenure, it was moved to UPN for its final two seasons. While playing straight lady to Hughley’s punchman, Neal appeared in the motion pictures Scream 2, Restaurant, Mission to Mars, Brian’s Song and Paid in Full. She was also featured in Aretha Franklin’s “A Rose is Still a Rose” video.
Once The Hughleys ceased production, Elise Neal branched off into recording and producing. Her production company received a development deal with Mandalay Bay Entertainment to provide a variety of projects including fitness and lifestyle programming as well as musical content. Her soundtrack single, “I’m Down Baby” came from her 2007 film, 4 Life. Other films included K-Ville with Anthony Anderson, Ransom Games, Playas Ball, and Hustle & Flow. She did the sitcoms, Belle, The Soul Man, the Real Husbands of Hollywood and the reality show, Hollywood Divas on TV One.
Neal has been nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, a Screen Actor Guild Award, a Black Reel Award and she won as part of Best Cast for Hustle & Flow at the Young Hollywood Awards.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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