The Mother of Black Hollywood

The outrageous, audacious and hilarious Jenifer Lewis earned the nickname "Mother of Black Hollywood" from playing movie and TV roles as mother to Angela Bassett (What's Love Got to Do with It?), Whitney Houston (Preacher's Wife), Tupac Shakur (Poetic Justice), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and others. Musing on her never-aired talk show for Disney, she writes, "To make a long story short, I was basically incapable of asking other people about their lives without going on and on and on about my own." Fortunately, this trait is ideal for a memoirist--Lewis's tales are acerbic, entertaining and brutally honest.

Born in Missouri, the youngest of seven children, Lewis always knew she'd be a star. Her career took off immediately. One day after graduating from college, she moved to New York City, and 10 days later made her debut on Broadway in Eubie! with Gregory Hines. She played Effie in the workshop production of the musical Dreamgirls, but lost the role to Jennifer Holliday when it moved to Broadway. Touring as a backup singer to Bette Midler, she forged a friendship but realized she couldn't sing in anyone's shadow.

Her manic behavior, spending binges, crying jags and the reliance on alcohol and sex to numb her feelings were later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. The second half of Lewis's memoir delves deeply into her therapy, a troubled relationship with her mother and her fear that mood-stabilizing drugs might dilute her persona. This outstanding, no-holds-barred memoir is captivating, thoughtful, disarmingly frank and unforgettable. The book, like its author, is a treasure. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Powered by: Xtenit