By People Staff
May 06, 1996 12:00 PM

HOW FITTING THAT SHE GOES quip to quip against Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston in Waiting to Exhale. Lela Rochon, who plays exuberant husband-hunter Robin Stokes, is certifiably breathtaking. “The woman is just blessed with beauty,” marvels one of her Exhale love interests, Leon (yep, just Leon). “Great mouth, perfect lips, even better teeth—there’s not much there not to like.” Unless, that is, you have something against long, shapely legs. “I’m glad that I ran track in high school,” says the 5’9″, 130-lb. former model. “I think it paid off.” Rochon, 32, thanks her folks, Sam and Zelma Staples (Lela goes by her middle name, Rochon), for her incomparable complexion. “My father has fair skin, and my mother is dark,” she says. “And I’m kind of cafe au lait.” But she works hard on upkeep: two hours of daily kick boxing and weight lifting at Gold’s Gym, near her L.A. home, plus plenty of facials and massages. “My face and my body are my product,” explains Rochon, who exfoliates (“It makes my skin feel like a baby’s behind”) and sleeps on her back (to avoid “a saggy face and wrinkles”). That product has been on the market since the mid-1980s, when she appeared in the first of 28 Bud Light commercials with Spuds Mackenzie. Now she has graduated to The Chamber, playing a legal adviser who tries to save a racist death-row inmate portrayed by Gene Hackman. Shooting on location in Mississippi, Rochon says she found herself among her biggest fans—convicts. “I get a lot of letters from prisoners,” she confides. “They say things you can’t imagine.”