Actress Vivica A. Fox debunked some of the stigmas around trade jobs in an interview with Fox News Digital ahead of the release of the new documentary "SKILLED."
"SKILLED," produced by 3M and Generous Films and directed by Julio Palacio, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, this weekend. The documentary features four individuals in their work environment as they get candid about why they chose trade school over college.
Fox, the actress, director, and philanthropist known for her iconic roles in "Kill Bill," "Independence Day" and more, shared that her personal connections to skilled trade individuals and the work they do make her "proud."
"I'm all about girl power, and I'm very proud of a couple of my girlfriends that are in the trade positions like my girlfriends Vanessa and Alicia," Fox told Fox News Digital. "They are a mother and daughter duo that drive forklifts in Detroit. And I'm just so proud when they send me their little videos driving their forklifts working at their company."
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"And I was really blown away when they first sent me their videos because they're just kind of - they're all about hair and makeup," Fox continued. "You would never believe that these women are driving forklifts and wearing hardhats. Another girl… who's in the health profession who works her tail off, and it helped us get through COVID and sacrifices so much for our community."
The film features four skilled trade workers, including Paige Knowles, a 20-year-old plumber and author of the children’s book "Plumber Paige," who hosts a unique, all-girls construction camp during the summer. While it may not be glamorous, Knowles said she had followed her passion in plumbing in part because she had been fascinated to learn more about water and how it "starts somewhere and gets to your house."
"You kind of take it granted," she says in the film. "Because you turn that sink on and water's always coming."
Each individual featured in the documentary had a unique reason for wanting to pursue their skilled trade. Cedric Smith was inspired by his mechanical engineer grandfather to find "direction" and become a welder. Anni Martinez became a film gaffer at Amazonas Electricas, an all-female grip and electrical team bringing diversity to Mexico’s film industry, after her experience as an extra on a film set, and Andrea Martin, a fall protection specialist at 3M who was named one of the 2022 Top Women in Safety by Canadian Occupational Safety, was passionate about teaching others about work safety.
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Each individual said they'd been judged by peers, friends, and even family members for their chosen professions.
"When I went back to my home school, it felt like everybody was embarrassed to be around me," Knowles said, saying she had lost touch with all of her middle school friends after deciding to go to tech school for plumbing.
"Unfortunately, for some reason there's just a misconception that women can't do anything," Fox said. "And I'm here to prove that. I'm having success in my career beyond my wildest dreams. Being a producer, a director, an author. Doing things that people said I could never do, so I was really proud to see those ladies that, you know, studying up those naysayers. That's what I call that, that, 'Please don't put me in a box.' If I say I'm going to do it, allow me the opportunity to do it."
Some argue that the only way to truly get ahead in life and career, is to get one's hands on a college degree. Fox said she understood the argument and stressed the importance of education, but said people should know they have options.
"That's not a bad misconception, but it's not available to everyone," Fox said about college. "And when I say that financially, everyone can't afford to go through college and then, you know, go and get their MBAs and all other things like that. So some of us got to take shortcuts. Because either we become young mothers or financially, our family just can't afford it."
"So, yes, I would love to see women now holding positions as doctors, lawyers, Supreme Court judges, through education," she added. "I mean, I always want to stress education, please. I want my girls to get their education. However, if you've had a little something in your life that took you in another direction, don't be afraid to pursue a skill trade, something that you can get good pay and good benefits. But educate yourself about that trade if you decide to do it."
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Fewer and fewer Americans are taking up essential trade work, studies show. Applications for technical jobs have dropped nearly 50% from 2020 to 2022, according to NPR.
Fox said she hoped the film would encourage more to realize they can pursue their dreams in the skilled trades.
"Sky's the limit," she said. "If there's something that you want to do, do not let that the fact that you're a woman or that you're a minority, stop you from pursuing your dreams. That's what we want to do. We want to with this film is to change the negative misconceptions about skilled trade workers. And like I said, I believe that women can do anything."
Fox recently surprised fans by reprising her iconic "Kill Bill" role in a SZA music video.
"My phone was blowing up that day," she told Fox Digital. "I kept it a secret, and it was awesome. It went viral. People were like, 'Oh my God, Oh look at this. They created a whole movie. They've already written ‘Kill Bill Three,’ okay… Vernita Green is back. They just loved it. I was like, 'Whoa!'"
The actress teased a few of her upcoming projects, including her hosting duties for "Secrets of the Interrogation Room," and her current work filming "Twisted House Sitter 2," which she described as "'Single White Female' meets ‘Fatal Attraction.'" She also teed up her appearance in four new Car Shield commercials.