Ivy Box looks like she’s a Jackson family cousin, but growing up in her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida, the world of show business seemed galaxies away. Until, that is, she landed as a cast member of the hit reality TV show “College Hill: Interns”.
It’s standard to be on a reality show and for that to be the highlight of one’s life, but Ivy didn’t stop there. She used the show as a stepping stone to create other opportunities for herself as an entrepreneur, community leader, and non-profit founder (she’s the mind behind. Now, she’s added “author” to her list of goals she can cross off. The 365 Go Get H.E.R.S. Guide is a manual she’s created to help other young women get a handle on a well-directed life.
Get the story behind this bold entrepreneur and go-giver.
Kreyolicious: You were born in Fort Myers, Florida of Haitian parents, and counties and counties away from Miami-Dade the center of Haitian immigrant settlement. What was it like?
Ivy Box: I loved every minute of growing up in Ft. Myers. There’s a large Haitian population there. My mother helped build the first Haitian Baptist Church in Fort Myers so we were always around our people. I grew up in a time when being Haitian wasn’t cool, not like it is now, but because I was centered around so many great Haitians in Ft. Myers, I wasn’t as affected by that kind of pressure. It was a different story when we moved, but when we were there, it was all love. One of the cool things about Fort Myers is that it is only a 30-40 minute drive away from Naples, another Haitian mecca, and about a two-hour drive from Miami, so we were literally in Miami every other weekend. We did some of our best food and clothes shopping in Miami-Dade County. I even lived in Dade for a couple years when I was younger, but that’s for another interview. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: Before you became an author and seasoned business woman, you were a TV star, with a role on “College Hill: Interns”. How did that come about, and what did you learn from that experience?
Ivy Box: Omg, yes. I used to always tell my friends in high school and in college that I was going to work for and be on BET. I didn’t know that my first gig on BET was going to be on their reality TV show, let-alone, a spin off from one of their most popular shows at the time that I was at home watching just several months prior. It all happened when I decided to go to BET’s “Spring Bling”, that they would tape in West Palm Beach. I saw flyers all around the beach saying to apply for BET’s “College Hill: Interns”, I originally thought that it was an internship with BET and was like, that’s going to be my way in. Long story short (’cause the entire story is for another interview too). [Laughter] I applied, made it past three rounds of auditions, next thing I know, I was being flown to Chicago to start taping. The idea of reality tv is fun, until you step into that house and see them cameras in your face…that’s when reality TV, gets real. [Laughter] I could write book about that whole experience. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: In your book, you really have a touching dedication to your mother and sister. What are three of the most vital lessons these two women have taught you?
Ivy Box: Aww, thank you. My mother taught me faith, perseverance, and sacrifice. My sister taught me dedication, boldness, and loyalty. They both taught me love, what family really means, and how to shade with grace. [Laughter] I’m kidding, but not really. [Laughter] Haitians shade without even knowing it, “Se konsa, ou vle abiye pou legliz?” [So that’s how you dress up to go to church?] instead of just telling you to change. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: One of the things you emphasize in your book The 365 Go Get Hers Guide is the importance of goal-setting. Do you think there’s such a thing as having too many goals?
Ivy Box: No. My motto is that “the Sky is not the limit, it’s only the beginning.” Restricting your goals is restricting your opportunities, it’s restricting your dreams, that’s how people end up stuck in a box that they created for themselves. I love the concept of living Beyond the Box, that’s living beyond restriction, even beyond the restrictions you place on yourself. You can never have too many goals, I just wouldn’t recommend trying to get them all done at the same time. That doesn’t work, believe me, I’ve tried it, and that’s the quickest way to get burned out. Pace yourself, balance out what you have going on in life, and take it one step at a time. You’ll get more done way quicker that way, believe it or not.
Kreyolicious: You been to Haiti, tifi?
Ivy Box: [Laughter] wi madam, plizè fwa [Yes, lady. Many times]. The first time I went to Haiti I was 5 years old. It was the best thing that my parents could have done. I was able to meet my entire family in person, see the beauty of Haiti, the people, and polish up on my Creole. I remember teaching my cousin’s Salt and Pepa’s “Push It.” My sister and I had a whole routine to it and everything. A couple of years later, when we went back to Haiti, they remembered the lyrics and the dance. It was so cute. I was in Haiti this past August, last December was my first time back since 2010. In 2009, we spent Christmas and New Years in Haiti, and thought about staying a few more days. Three days later, the earthquake happened.
I took one of the last pictures of the [National Palace] before it crashed down. CNN featured my picture from a tweet I had posted around that time. I love Haiti, I feel the strength of my ancestors when I’m there. It’s a powerful thing. We’re descendants of African slaves who physically survived the slave ships, who mustered up enough mental strength to overthrow their oppressors. On top of surviving the discrimination, isolation, and attempted annihilation from every other powerful country that surrounded us. They had the compassion to try and help free other slaves from those vary countries that sought to destroy them and still we stand! I come from that. You come from that. That’s in our bloodline. I am honored. The older I get, the more I appreciate it. I don’t know about you, but Haitians are freaking superheroes! We’re the real Black Panthers. [Laughter]
This concludes PART I of the interview with Ivy Box. Watch out for PART II. Meanwhile…