Jenifer Lewis keeps it real in this provocative and touching memoir by a mid-western girl with a dream whose journey from poverty to Hollywood will move, shock, and inspire readers.
Told in the audacious voice her fans adore, Lewis describes a road to fame made treacherous by dysfunction and undiagnosed mental illness, including a sex addiction. Yet, supported by loving friends and strengthened by “inner soldiers,” Lewis never stopped entertaining and creating.
A chapter titled “Kinloch” focuses on her upbringing. She was the youngest of seven children growing up so poor they shared bathwater. She also writes about her difficult relationship with her mother, Dorothy Mae Lewis, her absentee father, Edward James Lewis, and a pastor who molested her.
“Kinloch shaped me, having been born and raised in an all-black community, as poverty stricken as it was at that time,” says Lewis, who lives in Los Angeles.
But she basked during her youth in a community where everyone looked like her—and looked out for her. She mentions women like Miss Clark, Miss Benson, and Miss Williams (still referring to them formally), who helped her through tough times with friendly faces and open doors, and always having homemade biscuits, German chocolate cake, or a pot of greens on hand.
Written with no-holds-barred honesty and illustrated with sixteen-pages of color photos, this gripping memoir is filled with insights gained through a unique life that offers a universal message: “Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes.”
We watch as Lewis develops icon status, stemming from a series of legendary screen roles as the sassy, yet loveable, mama or auntie. And we watch as her emotional disturbances, culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations, launch her on a continuing search for answers, love, and healing.
From her first taste of applause at five years old, to landing on Broadway within eleven days of graduation and ultimately achieving success in movies, television, and global concert halls, Lewis reveals her outrageous life story with lots of humor, a few regrets, and most importantly, unbridled joy. Candid, warm, and wonderfully inspiring, The Mother of Black Hollywood intimately reveals the heart of a woman who lives life to the fullest.
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