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The Mother of Black Hollywood
Cover of The Mother of Black Hollywood
The Mother of Black Hollywood
A Memoir

From her more than three hundred appearances for film and television, stage and cabaret, performing comedy or drama, as an unforgettable lead or a scene stealing supporting character, Jenifer Lewis has established herself as one of the most respected, admired, talented, and versatile entertainers working today.

This "Mega Diva" and costar of the hit sitcom black-ish bares her soul in this touching and poignant—and at times side-splittingly hilarious—memoir of a Midwestern girl with a dream, whose journey took her from poverty to the big screen, and along the way earned her many accolades.

With candor and warmth, Jenifer Lewis reveals the heart of a woman who lives life to the fullest. This multitalented "force of nature" landed her first Broadway role within eleven days of her graduation from college and later earned the title "Reigning Queen of High-Camp Cabaret."

In the audaciously honest voice that her fans adore, Jenifer describes her transition to Hollywood, with guest roles on hits like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Friends. Her movie Jackie's Back! became a cult favorite, and as the "Mama" to characters portrayed by Whitney Houston, Tupac Shakur, Taraji P. Henson, and many more, Jenifer cemented her status as the "Mother of Black Hollywood."

When an undiagnosed menatl illness stymies Jenifer's career, culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations, her quest for wholeness becomes a harrowing and inspiring tale, including revelations of bipolar disorder and sex addiction.

Written with no-holds-barred honesty and illustrated with more than forty color photographs, 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."

From her more than three hundred appearances for film and television, stage and cabaret, performing comedy or drama, as an unforgettable lead or a scene stealing supporting character, Jenifer Lewis has established herself as one of the most respected, admired, talented, and versatile entertainers working today.

This "Mega Diva" and costar of the hit sitcom black-ish bares her soul in this touching and poignant—and at times side-splittingly hilarious—memoir of a Midwestern girl with a dream, whose journey took her from poverty to the big screen, and along the way earned her many accolades.

With candor and warmth, Jenifer Lewis reveals the heart of a woman who lives life to the fullest. This multitalented "force of nature" landed her first Broadway role within eleven days of her graduation from college and later earned the title "Reigning Queen of High-Camp Cabaret."

In the audaciously honest voice that her fans adore, Jenifer describes her transition to Hollywood, with guest roles on hits like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Friends. Her movie Jackie's Back! became a cult favorite, and as the "Mama" to characters portrayed by Whitney Houston, Tupac Shakur, Taraji P. Henson, and many more, Jenifer cemented her status as the "Mother of Black Hollywood."

When an undiagnosed menatl illness stymies Jenifer's career, culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations, her quest for wholeness becomes a harrowing and inspiring tale, including revelations of bipolar disorder and sex addiction.

Written with no-holds-barred honesty and illustrated with more than forty color photographs, 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."

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About the Author-
  • Jenifer Lewis (deemed a "national treasure" by TV Guide.com) has appeared in more than three hundred television and film roles. She currently stars on the hit ABC show black-ish. She lives in Los Angeles with her bichon frise, Butters Lewis, and has a drag queen named Shangela living in her basement.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 30, 2017
    At the onset of this energetic memoir, entertainer Lewis boards a cruise ship seeking some well-deserved relaxation and considers whether to retire from her 40-year career in show business. She quickly realizes that to retire at the age of 57 would be akin to stopping breathing: “I AM the SHOW in show business!” she tells herself. From there she describes growing up in a small, poverty-stricken Missouri town where at age five she sang at the Baptist church, already hell-bent on becoming a star. Readers follow the feisty singer through cabaret performances, TV and Broadway shows, tours, many mother roles (thus the title), and love affairs (like the performer, readers will most likely lose count). She revisits the years when many young male friends died of AIDS, the times when she scrambled for parts and didn’t get them, and endless moments of triumph. At age 33, Lewis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she began to understand her sexual addiction, as well as to face the demons of her past. Her memoir is frank, funny, and uplifting, capturing the singer’s authentic voice, her humor, and her profound and bold capacity for resilience.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2017

    Currently known for her role as matriarch Ruby Johnson on the hit TV show Blackish, Lewis has risen from modest beginnings in small town Missouri to become a self-described "entertainer's entertainer." Lewis lived for the high of performing on stage in cabaret productions and the imminent applause afterward. Finding that her moods would often become dangerously low upon returning home, she sought to prolong the pleasure by taking men home with her. This frank debut charts her upward career trajectory on Broadway, as a back-up singer for Bette Midler, and in films such as The Preacher's Wife, while also divulging details about her struggles with bipolar disorder and sex addiction. After a long search during her 30s to find a psychologist she trusted, Lewis realized she had the support and direction to work through deeply ingrained pain from her childhood. This newfound confidence led to further success, often playing the role of mother, as evidenced by the title of this book. VERDICT An insightful memoir of Lewis's road to success and eventual path to self-healing, told with honesty and hubris that will appeal to her wide fan base.--Stacy Shaw, Orange, CA

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal "An insightful memoir of Lewis's road to success and eventual path to self-healing, told with honesty and hubris that will appeal to her wide fan base."
  • New York Post "The co-star of the hit sitcom "Black-ish" tells her story with refreshing honesty, tracing her journey from poor Midwestern girl to one of the most versatile entertainers working today, racking up more than 300 appearances for film, television and stage. Funny and candid."
  • Taraji P. Henson "Jenifer Lewis is a natural comedienne in the spirit of Lucille Ball. Inventive, smart, and all her bones are 'funny bones.' You know the workday will be all fun and spirit when Jenifer is on set—the hardest part is to keep from laughing. And now she has written it all down for everyone to enjoy. Congratulations, Mother Jenifer. I love you!"
  • Brandy "The Mother of Black Hollywood is inspiring, funny, and boldly transparent. It takes a beyond brave person to write such a memoir. Jenifer Lewis is a true vessel and channel for pure expression...the most honest person I have ever met."
  • Publishers Weekly "Her memoir is frank, funny, and uplifting, capturing the singer's authentic voice, her humor, and her profound and bold capacity for resilience."
  • Shelf Awareness "This outstanding, no-holds-barred memoir is captivating, thoughtful, disarmingly frank and unforgettable. The book, like its author, is a treasure."
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