Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 6:52 AM
“That’s my people!” said Eve, her newfound chatty exuberance coming shortly after footage of Philadelphians rushing down Broad Street in post-Super Bowl bliss flashed on the screen.
“I’m so happy for Philly. Fly, Eagles, fly! I can’t believe we won. … It’s my hometown. I’m so happy, it’s crazy,” she said.
When the conversation turned to Justin Timberlake, who for Sunday night’s halftime show wore a peculiar camouflage-print suit, Eve boldly piped in again.
“And that outfit,” she said as she lowered her arched eyebrows, feigning little-girl innocence for comedic effect, that trademark pit bull in a skirt sneer gone. “I think he is cool. I think he is fly. But it was like Duck Dynasty chic.”
That was it for the sharing. During the rest of Monday’s show, Eve was back to her cautious self. But the West Philly-born rapper turned actress turned designer turned talk-show host is working on opening up. After all, her job is to overshare.
“I’m an introvert-extrovert,” Eve told me one recent afternoon. “It’s one of the things we talked about before I got on the show. ‘Are you going to be comfortable?’ they asked me. ‘Well, probably not.'”
After a weeklong tryout in October, Eve officially replaced actress Aisha Tyler on the CBS daytime talk show in November. The Talk is one of those “Let’s calmly, in a non-judge-y — but in a really judge-y — way, chat about the day’s hot topics” show. Thanks to cohosts — Sara Gilbert (who also executive produces), Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne, and Julie Chen — serving as her well-heeled safety nets, Eve is trying to get her share on.
She’s opened up about how she and her husband, British millionaire Maximillion Cooper, have attempted to get pregnant. She shared with viewers her struggle to forgive a dad who wasn’t always there when she was growing up. She ate a water bug (gross!). She teared up when talking about the death of a favorite aunt. Eve’s most revealing move so far? She appeared on air without a stitch of makeup, a big deal; her bronzer is her security blanket.
“It’s been cathartic for me to be vulnerable and open,” said Eve, 39, who got her daytime talk-show feet wet as a guest on the now-canceled Meredith Vieira Show in 2015 and The Real in 2016. “I was ready for a different platform. I wanted people to get to know me beyond my music — as a woman, a wife, and a stepmom,” she said.
Eve released her debut album, Let There Be Eve, in 1999 as the only female rapper of the Ruff Ryders click. This was the same crew that produced what I’ll call overly aggressive acts, like the now-imprisoned DMX, on-the-lam rapper Cassidy, and the LOX. Eve sold 213,000 copies of Let There Be Eve during its first week of release, and she became the third female rapper to have her album peak at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, behind Lauryn Hill and Foxy Brown.
Eve was a lady, but her style was no joke. She gave curt, one-word answers, and she hardly ever smiled. She did, however, become known for her still-visible paw-print tattoos on her chest. Eve’s next big hit was — my personal favorite –“Who’s That Girl?”, and in 2002, she won a Grammy for her duet with Gwen Stefani on “Let Me Blow Your Mind.”
It was around this time that Eve’s Philly hustle started to come through, and she began to expand her resumé.
In 2002, she landed the recurring role of Terri “Who drank my apple juice” Jones in the movie franchise Barbershop. The next year, Eve, who by now was being hailed as the next big thing in fashion, thanks to a few dozen glossy magazine covers — she was starting to smile a bit at this point — launched the now-defunct sportswear line Fetish. Fetish was all about the Juicy Couture-style terry-cloth zip-up sweatsuits. But now that I think about it, it was athleisure before its time.
In 2003, Eve started her run starring as boutique owner Shelly Williams in the UPN sitcom Eve, a gig that lasted three years.
Eve was famous, but she still had a lot of growing up to do. Her days as a stripper may have been behind her, but that tumultuous relationship with Love & Hip Hop villain Stevie J ended with the release of a sex tape, followed by years of internet ridicule. Eve held her head up high the whole time. She filmed travel shows, including one where she traveled around Jamaica eating seafood for the Esquire Network. And then she went and fell in love, marrying Cooper, CEO of celebrity motor rally Gumball 3000, in Ibiza in 2014.
These days, Eve’s edgy look is all but gone. She looks — and sounds — just like her mother, Julie Wilch, known around town for her work producing local fashion shows. She doesn’t yell.
And she doesn’t — thank goodness — speak with that affected British accent celebrities tend to pick up when they move across the pond.
“Look, I’m from Philly,” Eve said, laughing. “I’d get cursed out coming back to Philly talking about ‘Hello,'” she said, affecting a posh accent.
Eve spends most of her time in Los Angeles, where she films The Talk each weekday. When the show is on hiatus, she heads back to London — where she lives with Cooper and his four children — and she’s working on her new album, which she said will be a mix of Afrobeats, funk and classic hip-hop.
On camera, Eve glows. Her cheeks stay defined, but you can never be too sure what color her hair is. When she started her stint on the show, the tips were purple. Now she’s full-blown blond.
And each day she thinks about topics. She likes talking about women’s rights, especially as a female hip-hop artist who has seen firsthand women getting into vulnerable situations.
“I’m happy things are changing,” Eve said.
As far as her penchant for sharing, she’s getting there. Because, as Eve will tell you, life is all about Eve-olution.
“I”m honestly still trying to figure out who I am with the dynamic of these ladies,” Eve said. “I always want to make sure I’m showing up. This is an education for me. I’m far out of my comfort zone, but in a good way.”