Photo credit: Shot By Sed
When Vena Excell answered the phone, she was slightly out of breath.
“I’m coming off the set,” she said at the beginning of our interview.
This is now the norm for the social media star, aka Pretty Vee, who has amassed almost 7 million followers across her platforms with her hilarious videos. She’s among a slew of mega-influencers born after Vine, where humor dominated her Instagram pages instead of heavily curated photos. Now, almost a decade after her first post, Excell is stepping into Hollywood.
Excell plays an aspiring sex worker in Issa Rae’s scripted HBO Max dramedy Rap Sh!t, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Having Pretty Vee be the best actor on Rap Shit is such a surprise.” a Twitter user wrote. Another user praised Excell, stating that the role was meant for her.
Excell’s perfect performance makes sense, as glimpses of the Miami native’s acting skills have shined through the characters in her skits for years.
“I’ve always been imaginative, so creating these scenarios is like an outlet for me,” she shared.
Before focusing on content creation, she studied mass communications and radio in college, eventually getting a job at a music label. While she clearly had talent, the timing wasn’t right.
“Well, I started … I used to work for a label,” he said in a 2020 interview with the Atlanta Black Star. “I worked. I went to college for radio; that was my first passion and that’s what I wanted to do first and then I quit. I worked for a label, [and I] was fired.”
Although it was a hard blow, Excell said it was part of God’s divine plan.
“He took me in a direction I didn’t know I had to go,” she said, sharing that she decided to take her comedic career more seriously after her content garnered massive attention. Excell auditioned for hit sketch show Wild ‘N Out in 2017 but wasn’t cast until several years later. Since then, she’s been a fan favorite of the Nick Cannon-produced show.
“Nick has definitely been a huge inspiration to me in a business sense,” she shared. “I just really admire how he used his comedy to take himself down so many different paths.”
She plans to do the same.
In the last two years alone, she signed a clothing deal with Citi Trends, partnered with a variety of brands including liquor company Bumbu, and launched a fragrance.
Excel said this is just the beginning.
“I have so many incredible projects in the pipeline and I owe it all to God,” said the professing minister’s son.
She shared that while she’s grateful for all the opportunities that are being presented to her, she’s not surprised.
“I’ve worked hard for this — I’m much more than just a social media comedian.”