“Willa, Willa, Willa, what you want, what you want?”
In 2001, pop sensation Willa Ford simply wanted “to be bad” after the release of her debut smash single -- which we still proudly bump today because it’s a certifiable bop! But it’s 2019, and the now 38-year-old blonde beauty has redirected her talents to a different creative medium: interior design.
“The hot shorts have been hung up!” Willa said, laughing, when she sat down with ET last week. “If you would've asked me 18 years ago, would I be sitting here talking about interior design? I would've said, ‘Yeah, right.’”
More on Willa’s music career later, but for now, the designer is hyper-focused on her company, WFord Interiors, which she started in 2012. After running the business completely on her own for two years, often times overseeing up to 25 subcontractors at a time, Willa knew her company was thriving and she needed to hire some creatives to join the team. Today, WFord Interiors is a team of all women who work together to deliver a signature “high-low luxe” aesthetic to any home. Willa says she’s just as thrilled to source a $20,000 sofa as she is to find one locally at a thrift shop.
“There was a moment when I decided I wanted to be in control of the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ that was said to me, and with acting and music, there was always a gatekeeper. By starting my own business and being an entrepreneur, I was now my own gatekeeper,” she explained. “It was really a no-brainer for me to completely pivot, because I knew something was missing in my soul... I also think the act of serving. You know, yes, when I was writing music, I think I was serving more people, but I wasn't seeing it directly. But now, I see how it impacts a whole family and that takeaway for me is so beautiful that I feel really fulfilled.”
Willa’s reputation as an interior designer quickly spread, and her work caught the attention of Keeping Up With the Kardashians star, Scott Disick. A mutual friend connected them, and before she knew it, Willa was helping out with a few things around Scott’s home. Clearly, Willa left a lasting impression, because when it came time for Scott to launch his spinoff series Flip It Like Disick (centered around his passion for flipping homes), he knew exactly who he wanted to join the cast. But Willa says, she wasn’t immediately sold.
“There's a lot of apprehension. I had built this company, stepped out of the limelight, living this really normal life. And then when Scott called me and asked me if I would be a part of this, I thought, this is going to be a really big commitment for my whole family. So really, we sat down as a family and we talked about it. Then I sat down with my whole company and talked about it. And I needed to know that they were on board,” Willa expressed. “So my big thing with Scott is that we just needed him to know I needed the authenticity of what we did as a company to come across. And as long as that's what we were doing, then I was okay with doing the show... The company is here and the show just supplements the company, but it couldn't be vice versa for me.”
One thing that’s off limits? Willa’s family, which includes her former NFL pro husband, Ryan Nece, and their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Elijah.
“We're Christians. We prayed about it. We talked about it. Was this something we felt like was good for our marriage?” Was this something good for our family?” Willa reflected. “After a long discussion, we both felt like we're at a place where we felt solid in our foundation and it was time… You can see my company, but you'll never see my husband or my son. I choose to protect that family unit for now and I think that it's every mom and dad's choice whether or not they're going to expose our kids. At this time, my husband and I, we choose to kind of keep that private.”
Willa tells ET Scott was extremely supportive of her decision, which starkly contrasts with his own life, which has played out on television over the last decade.
“He's got a family that's very exposed all the time and that's just normal to them and normal to him, but he also understands a family that says, ‘Hey, that's not something we feel comfortable with at this point in our time,’” she said, before praising his co-parenting dynamic with ex Kourtney Kardashian. “You see his kids and his beautiful relationship. Their modern family, him and Kourtney have created, it's really awesome. I think people really need to see this, because they see everything that they had went to and the bottom of the barrel. And then they see where they are now. And I think parents that aren't together anymore need to see this, because it's very important for the children.”
Another reason to tune in to Flip It Like Disick? Willa says it’s downright hilarious watching the antics that ensue between Scott and his team of business partners, and more importantly, it portrays a realistic depiction of what it actually takes to properly flip a home.
“We are showing an authentic look at a home flip of that size. I think a lot of shows show you one episode, one flip. And a lot of people go in and invest, and realize, ‘Uh oh, what have I done? I'm remodeling my kitchen, what have I done?’ And I think we really show people the struggles and how long it really does take.”
Should the show get renewed for a second season, Willa said she’s definitely down to continue the FILD journey.
“We're already talking about our next flip, because this is actually something we do as a team. So it's whether or not the camera follows us around is another story,” she said, smiling.
With Willa’s efforts entirely focused on her interior design business, fans may be disappointed to know she currently has no new music in the works. “Interior design takes up my whole schedule, just like music should take somebody's whole schedule. I don't want to half heart either things,” she said. But after marveling at how positively her career trajectory has shifted over the past two decades, Willa gushed, “Maybe in 20 more years, when I'm a little older [I’ll put out new music], you know!?”
Flip It Like Disick premieres on August 4 at 9pm ET/PT on E!