Jodi Lyn O’Keefe has quite the resume. Her first gigs were roles in 90s series Another World and Nash Bridges. Shortly after, she played an unforgettable role of a snarky Taylor Vaughn in the cult teen classic She’s All That alongside Freddie Prinze Jr in 1999. Since then, Jodi has flexed her acting skills on plenty television shows and films including Charmed, Halloween H20, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Prison Break just to name a few.
Today she plays Lionel Davenport, a hell-raising A-list actress and ex-wife of Pete Davenport on VH1’s popular series Hit the Floor. In other words, a boss. Unlike the mean-girl characters she is known for playing, Jodi Lyn is one of the sweetest and humblest entertainers around. Last week, she chopped it up with VIBE Vixen to give us some insight on Lionel, what Hollywood has taught her over the past two decades, and what its like behind the scenes of Hit The Floor.
Photo Credit: VH1, Tony Donaldson, Instagram
VIBE Vixen: How do you feel about joining the cast of Hit the Floor?
Jodi: I feel really lucky, it’s been a really great experience for me. I was nervous at first because the cast has already been together for a year and they have such great camaraderie, so it’s hard to be the new guy. However, they welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable immediately. Gosh, I just had such a blast with them.
How has Lionel’s addition to the cast shaken up the show?
Well, an estranged wife will shake up anything. I think it just adds a little bit more drama to Pete’s already dramatic life. There is finally a face to Lionel; we heard about her in the past now here she is in the flesh. It’s out of sight, out of mind but then all of a sudden your estranged wife shows up on your doorstep again.
She recently revealed that she wants Pete back after leaving him. Have you ever had a similar experience where you feel you made a mistake in leaving someone?
I mean, I made tons of mistakes. Who hasn’t? Yeah, it’s happened to me in the past and the things that I’ve learned is that the time to walk away is when you really want to walk away. It’s better not to play any games.
Are there any similarities between you and your character?
Well I am non-confrontational to a fault so there’s not that much similarity but it is definitely fun to walk around in her shoes because she’s okay with confrontation. She’s strutting her stuff to the world but I’m a little bit more shy than Lionel, let’s say that.
What do you think are Lionel’s best and worst personality traits?
Her best personality traits are—well, she loves her husband very deeply and I think thats one of her best personality traits. I think her worst personality trait is that she will get whatever she wants by any means necessary. She is a little ruthless [laughs].
Tell me something that we don’t know about her.
I wish I could tell you but I can’t give you any spoilers [laughs] so I think the things that you don’t know about Lionel are gonna be revealed eventually.
So we definitely have to stay tuned then.
How’s the on-set chemistry of Hit the Floor?
It’s great. Everybody is so happy to be there everyday and everyone loves their job so much that it makes for a really comfortable atmosphere. You come in, in the morning, and there’s no stopping everybody’s sunshine. Everyone is just glad to be there and happy to be a part of this show. For example, if you go to work and something is going wrong in your life and you arrive, everyone is so happy to be there that all of a sudden you just get wrapped up in everyone else’s good news. It’s a pleasure, really.
What’s your favorite part of shooting?
Goofing around in the hair and makeup trailer before we start shooting.
Of course, that’s always fun.
The girls and I laugh all morning long before we get ready.
So I did some research and it turns out that you are also a licensed bounty hunter. Why bounty hunting?
[Laughs] A girlfriend and I went to take couple courses in L.A. to see if we can do it in real life because we do so much stunt work together and so we were just trying it out to see what would happen; to see if we could actually do it so we’re both pre-licensed. We only have a couple more hours of training to become licensed but it made me giggle so I put it on my twitter page.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… Success.
Success is work hard and give 100% every single day because it will leave as quickly as it came.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… Hollywood.
Hollywood? [Laughs] Keep some of your personal life to yourself otherwise you won’t have one.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… a co-star or fellow seasoned actress.
Gosh, I’ve learned so many lessons from my co-stars that it’s unbelievable. I learned a lesson without even realizing I learned it just by looking at someone’s actions—and this person shall remain nameless—but I learned not to complain. I have so much to be grateful for so there is no reason to complain.
Are there any actresses in particular, legends specifically, from the past or present that you look up to?
There’s so many oh my god. There’s so many talented and amazing people in my business that it blows my mind. I guess recently I got the chance to meet Jackie Chan and that is someone that I look up to. I can’t even begin to tell you how much! That man lives and breathes giving back. He built 26 schools in China for children and for every dollar that is donated to him for charity he doubles it. His whole life is living, breathing and making the world a better place for kids. He said that he has been helped so much in his life that he just wants to give back and it moved me to tears when I heard his life story. He is a phenomenal man; he is so generous, so kind, and so loving to every single person that he meets. So I am really looking up to him the most right now.
Any last thoughts?
I just feel so grateful and happy to be a part of all this and I’m looking forward to feedback for the rest of the year. I look forward to episodes every Monday night with the cast, seeing live tweets and I love to get the instant feedback from everybody. It’s a whole new thing for me. I have never been a big part of social media and now I have been involved with it with the cast every Monday and it’s been so cool to hear what everyone has to say right there on the spot.
Awesome. It was great speaking with you, Jodi, and I will be looking forward to watching the rest of the season.