Elise Neal’s Belle’s Blog: Episode #1

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    I’m dishing about life on the set of TV One’s original sitcom Belle’s and my character Jil Cooper.  Get the inside scoop straight from the source (ME) including my on-set fashion looks to what I really think of the guest stars.  

    Belle’s Episode 1 – One Big Happy Family
    My character, Jil Cooper, is a single mom and the manager of Belle’s, which my dad, Big Bill (played by Keith David), owns.  One of the best things I love about playing Jil Cooper is that she is so sassy and I love that!  I love the tone of the show!  I love the restaurant!  I think everybody is really going to love it! Besides getting to play sassy Jil, I have a great cast to work with.  You will see our relationships bloom in episode two.

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    Elise Dishes on Guest Stars
    We were all so excited that Cameron Mathison was on the Belle’s set.  He played Tucker Crawford, the man who wanted to rent out Belle’s for a family reunion. GREAT CHOICE! The world knows him from Dancing with the Stars and the soap All My Children.  We had fun!  The entire cast must have bombarded him for at least 15 minutes on the set about Dancing with the Stars.  He was great!

     

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    Eddie Murphy’s daughter Bria appears as the bartender Maurice’s girlfriend-of-the-moment and new cocktail waitress.  When I saw her on the set, I had to smile because I’ve known her father for years.  Bet you guys didn’t know  that I worked alongside Eddie Murphy in Boomerang as the stand-in for Robin Givens!!!!!  I started off as a performer and not an actress.  I toured all over the world in musical tours like Sophisticated Ladies in Japan but didn’t know a thing about acting.  I met Eddie through mutual friends in New York and I jumped at the chance to work on set, even if I was a stand-in.  I learned about camera angles, studying lines, performing improv on the set and how that plays out.  Best thing I ever did!  I told Bria this same story!  If you want to act, being a stand-in is a great way to learn.  On the set you learn valuable tools of trade.

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    Elise on Her Style Team
    The funny thing is I thought I was going to be in this fly, yellow jacket for the majority of the first episode but THAT WAS NOT THE CASE! LOL!  I kept thinking to myself, the audience is going to love this outfit but I was WRONG because they barely got to see it.  I was in the black slacks and short sleeve sweater for the majority of this episode and not the outfit with the yellow jacket but that’s the crazy thing about television; sometimes you film out of order so you just never know.  I LOVED THAT YELLOW JACKET. 

    I want to shout out my stylist Carmegie Dupry who is in New York and was amazing!  It was no easy task to get outfits from New York to the set of Belle’s.  She did a lot of leg work to get items shipped to me for the show but we made it work.

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    Also, L.L. Cool J’s wife Simone has an amazing jewelry line named Simone I. Smith (S.I.S.) and she sent me GREAT pieces that I wear throughout out the entire series.  Another “weird” connection story … I was overseas doing charity work and someone suggested that I work with Simone and the rest is history!  You will see me rocking her jewelry 95% of the time. LOVE IT!

    Life on the Set For Real
    Working on the Belle’s set is like being in a restaurant, for real.  Belle’s was filmed in a real restaurant that was rented for the purpose of taping the show.   That’s a REAL bar you see and a REAL, fully functioning kitchen.  They even have people actually cooking so the food featured is fresh.  Everything is real!!! The funny thing about being on the set with all that food is, THE FOOD!!!!!  All the food you see on the set is REAL! REAL! REAL!  You could smell the food on the set! I was like, I GOTTA FOCUS.

    True to my Belle’s character, Jil, you will never find me eating on the set.  Jil never eats at Belle’s because she is very professional and too busy trying to run the restaurant, deal with her sister Loreta (Tami Roman) and make sure the food is done just right. In real life, I don’t eat on the set, either.  I would rather take it home and pig out later. I left the set yelling…. SAVE ME A PLATE FOR LATER.

    Up Next:  I dish about Belle’s second episode, “Birthday Party” and hanging out with guest star Vivica A. Fox. 

    Follow me on TWITTER @TheRealNealE and don’t miss Belle’s Fridays at 10/9c!

    TELL US:  Share Your Favorite Belle’s First Episode Moment With Elise.        

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