Willa Ford became known in 2001 as the self-proclaimed "Bad Girl of Pop," when
she released her debut album, Willa Was Here. Aside from her music career, Willa
has hosted several reality television shows, posed for Playboy, and competed on
ABC's top-rated Dancing with the Stars.
Willa was born and raised in a trailer park in Ruskin, Florida. Her parents are Ralph Everett and Donna Sweat Williford. As a young girl, Willa Ford studied opera and began pursuing a singing career at age 8, when she joined the Tampa Bay Children's Choir. By age 11, Willa Ford had become a member of the Tampa-based Children's Performing Arts Troupe Entertainment Revue, which consisted of 20 girls, ages 5-16, who toured the area and sang at places such as Walt Disney World Resort and Busch Gardens. Ford advanced from the chorus to the role of featured soloist. When Willa Ford was 15, she left the troupe and landed a spot with a local foursome called FLA but did not remain long before heading to Los Angeles, California.
Willa graduated from East Bay High School with a 4.0 GPA, maintained a place on the honor roll throughout high school, and was enrolled in Honor/Advanced Placement classes.
In 1999, Willa, performing under the stage name Mandah, signed with MCA, which released her song "Lullaby" on the double platinum soundtrack Pokemon: The First Movie. She also landed a spot as an opening act for the Backstreet Boys. This not only brought her attention for her performances but also for her relationship with Backstreet Boy Nick Carter.
Soon Willa's label had her change her stage name to Willa Ford, so as to avoid confusion with Mandy Moore, and promoted her as a beautiful singer with a "good girl" image. After negative publicity tainted her clean-cut image, MCA dropped her and let her move to a label that would embrace her "bad girl" image.
During a mall tour for Nautica Kids, Lava/Atlantic Records noticed Ford. Shortly thereafter, Lava/Atlantic gave Willa a deal and put her into their recording studio with a diverse group of writers and producers. Unlike some teen singers, Ford preferred to write most of her lyrics.
On July 17, 2001, Willa released her debut album Willa Was Here, containing the single "I Wanna Be Bad." The album used pop/R&B grooves, dance beats and vocoders. Despite this hit single, the album reached only No. 56 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Ford is one of the few female artists that can access the whistle register as displayed in her song "Ooh Ooh".
Also in 2001, Willa served as the spokesperson for Pantene Pro-V's Pro-Voice campaign and appeared on the in-concert cable special Teensation. Willa also hosted MTV's Total Request Live and Say What Karaoke. She then won a contract with MTV.
In 2002, Willa co-wrote and sang a duet with South Korean pop star Park Ji-yoon entitled "Nastified," which appeared on Ji-yoon's fifth album, Man. Throughout 2003, Ford hosted The Morning After and a reality series; I Bet You Will. Ford's song, "I Wanna Be Bad," became the theme song for the Six Flags amusement park chain and was also used by 7 Up for an advertising campaign. The hit single was also featured on the Totally Hits collection. Ford also modeled for Bongo clothing.
During Willa’s appearances, hosting and modeling, she began working on her untitled sophomore album which contained the songs “F.U.” and “I Gotta Feeling”. Although fans where excited to hear new material, Ford wanted to ditch it and start over. In 2003, Ford released the female empowerment dance song "A Toast to Men," which featured guest rapper Lady May. The single was from her unreleased sophomore album S--ys--obsessive, which Ford originally wanted to call Porn Poetry, but Ford's record label did not agree with her "because that's not something that Wal-Mart will put on their shelves."A Toast to Men" did well but, because of legal problems, the album was not released. This caused Ford to leave the label.
Willa Ford was ranked #100 on the FHM 100 S--iest Women of 2004. Willa Ford
ranked #1 in Stuff's S--iest Women of the Summer in 2005. Willa Ford ranked #48
in the Stuff's 101 S--iest Online Women in 2006.
In 2005, Willa Ford hosted the first season of the reality television show The Ultimate Fighter. After its final episode, Willa got a shot as the summer guest "doll" for The Pussycat Dolls' Las Vegas show.
In 2006, Willa was one of the four celebrity quarterbacks for the Dallas Desire in the third Lingerie Bowl, which was shown on pay-per-view during half-time of Super Bowl XL. In February, Ford proved yet again to be the "Bad Girl of Pop" by posing nude for the March 2006 issue of Playboy with Jessica Alba on the cover.
In February 2006, Ford joined Nicollette Sheridan, Cindy Margolis, and DJ AM for a special Valentine's Day show at Club Pure in Las Vegas. Ford became a celebrity poker player on Calvin Ayre's Poker Wild Card in April. In the May issue of Stuff Magazine, Ford ranked No. 48 in the "101 S--iest Online Women" competition and hosted the Love Jones Lingerie Fashion Show at Body English in Las Vegas later that month.
On August 14, 2006, on national television, Lisa Rinna announced the competitors, which included Ford, for the third season of Dancing with the Stars, which premiered on September 12 on ABC. Some contestants, including Ford, had already been guessed days before Rinna's announcement on Good Morning America. Rumors were being circulated because of an article about Ford's close friend and former boyfriend UFC champ Chuck Liddell.
Willa and her professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy were voted off Dancing with the Stars on October 11, 2006 after five weeks of competition. On October 12, it was announced that for personal reasons, Sara Evans would be dropping out of the show.
On November 1st 2006, Ford returned to the televised result show of Dancing With the Stars, where she performed Fame (Irene Cara song), making her the first celebrity to be a contestant and performer on the show. On November 8th 2006, Ford returned to Dancing With the Stars again, but this time to perform a group jive and promote the upcoming tour. Willa also appeared a third time after her elimination on the November 15 2006 season finale of Dancing With the Stars, when all the dancers and stars returned for their final dance number before crowning Emmitt Smith the third season's champion.
Willa appeared on an EXTRA special undergoing an "Ugly Betty Make-Over" which aired on November 2nd, 2006 on the popular entertainment news TV show. Ford also did a photoshoot for Maxim (magazine) that is out in January 2007.
In an interview with the magazine Starry Constellation, Willa said that she has decided to concentrate on her music career and that once Dancing with the Stars is over, she plans to complete her sophomore album. On Thanksgiving, Ford was given an engagement ring by hockey player Mike Modano. Willa Ford also announced to Access Hollywood that she was dropping out of the Dancing With The Stars Tour and will be working on the new pop-dance album instead.
Willa gave a tour of her home, appearing on an episode of "My Celebrity Home" on the Style Network on February 7th. The episode will play throughout the month.
Willa dated Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys from 1998 to 2001. She has also dated Christopher Jones and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell.
While rumored to be dating Modano, on the third episode of Dancing with the Stars, host Samantha Harris remarked to Ford and her dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, "Wow, you two have really fallen for each other." The couple looked stunned but did not deny it. In the segment preceding their Jive dance, they confirmed having "bonded way beyond the dance floor."
In an interview with ABC after the Jive performance they were prodded by a reporter about their relationship status, Ford stated, "We are not an official couple." Maks followed this with, "Right. Not official."
After their elimination from Dancing with the Stars, Chmerkovskiy posted on his official Web site, "Ford and I have become very close friends. I really like her and we are having a great time together. If you don't mind I would like to leave it at that." After Thanksgiving in November 2006, he announced his intentions to withdraw from the tour and stated clearly that the pair were not dating.
Willa reported to Access Hollywood that she is in fact, engaged to Mike Modano. They had been dating on and off for the past four years excluding the year she was living with Chuck Lidell, with Willa making the engagement announcement at the end of November. Modano popped the question in bed at the end of October and presented Ford with an engagement ring over Thanksgiving. She has also decided to pull out of The Tour along with Chmerkovskiy, and is opting to work on her next album.
Albums for Willa Ford
Willa Was Here (2001)
Singles for Willa Ford
"I Wanna Be Bad" (featuring Royce Da 5'9) (2001)
"Did Ya' Understand That" (2001)
"Santa Baby (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme)" (2001)
"A Toast to Men (F*ck the Men)" (feat. Lady May) (2003)
TV List for Willa Ford
Teensensation - Herself (2001)
Pantene Pro-Voice commercial - Herself (2001)
Pantene Pro-Voice featuring Jewel - Herself (2001)
The Mind of the Married Man - Herself (2001)
Six Flags commercial - Herself (2002)
Raising Dad - Edie "Bully" (2002)
Slime Time Live - Herself (2002) (Got Pied and Slimed!)
I Bet You Will - Host (2002)
The Miss Teen USA Pageant - Co-host (2002)
Morning After - Herself (2003)
VH1's 100 Most Outrageous Celebrity Moments - Commentator (2004)
VH1's My Coolest Years: Bad Girls - Herself (2004)
VH1's 100 Greatest Kids Stars - Commentator (2005)
The Ultimate Fighter - Host (2005)
My Fair Brady: Episode 3 - Herself (2005)
The Fabulous Life of ... Las Vegas - Herself (2005)
ESPN Hollywood: Lingerie Bowl - Herself (2005)
Last Call with Carson Daly: Lingerie Bowl Event - Herself (2005)
VH1's 100 Greatest Teen Stars - Commentator (2006)
Lingerie Bowl III - Herself (Dallas Desire quarterback) (2006)
Calvin Ayre's Poker Wild Card - Herself (2006)
Access Hollywood - Herself (2006)
Entertainment Tonight - Herself (2006)
Extra - Herself (2006)
The Insider - Herself (2006)
E! News - Herself (2006)
Dancing with the Stars -Celebrity Dancer (2006)
Film List for Willa Ford
I Wanna Be Bad (2001)
Did Ya' Understand That (2001)
Santa Baby (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) (2001)
Uncle Kracker's: In A Little While -"Girlfriend" (2002)
A Toast to Men (F*ck the Men) (2003)
This Willa Ford Biography Page is Copyright Biography World © 2004 - 2010