Willa Ford plays Janice Michaels on the Starz Network's "Magic… (Dove Shore )
While the drama "Magic City" offers the Starz network a bid for critical glory, it's also serving as a second chapter for one of its sexiest players: Willa Ford.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Ford was a pop diva in a heyday that saw chart peers including Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. "I Wanna Be Bad," her biggest single, showcased a hard-bodied blond with some specific intentions.
But now she's all grown up, married to retired NHL player Mike Modano and stepping out with a serious role on "Magic City." The Ministry sat down with Willa to talk about her secret life as an athlete's wife, mistakes from her pop past and her racy TV role.
Ministry of Gossip: So your music career is compelling and this TV role is impressive, but please tell us first about being a hockey wife [Ford married retired Dallas Stars player Modano in 2007]. Hair-pulling and all.
Willa Ford: Hockey wives! Well, most of them usually marry their high school sweethearts. They're from small Canadian towns and they're more down to earth. There's another breed that have decided they're multimillionaires and now life is all about them, they're famous because of their husbands.
MoG: And you?
WF: Then there's someone like me who came in, already had their thing going on and ended up trying to fit into this life. I also knew he was getting close to retirement. I do miss the fashionista portion of being a wife in Dallas, because it's all about what you're going to wear to the game. You'd think its all jerseys and jeans -- not in Texas.
MoG: Speaking of Southern belles, your "Magic City" character isn't for the faint of heart. As the pilot opens, your character Janice is, um, assisting a gentleman -- sexually -- while he's driving.
WF: I definitely thought, 'How in the world do I explain this to my grandmother?' And here I am trying to show people the bad girl thing [in my life] is over. But my husband was fine with it; he made a really sly remark about how we should probably practice.
MoG: A lot of your peers from your pop days are still working their schtick. Backstreet Boys are still touring and what-not.
WF: You know, more power to 'em. They could probably spend the rest of their lives touring and earning a living. But I've put all my energy into acting, coaching and classes and working as much as I can. It's what I love. And I didn't spend all of my money.
MoG: At 31, you've had a couple different incarnations but you're still really young. What do you think now when you look back on your pop career?
WF: Back then I didn't depend on my talent enough. I can say it now and I couldn't say it then, but I'm a really damn good singer. That hyped-up, sexual side of me, I let it water stuff down … I would do all of it again, but I do think taking that time off helped. I recognize it now, I maintain a very solid life.