In this post, you’ll find collected quotes from Jenifer Lewis’ book: The Mother of Black Hollywood, with page numbers.
A Letter To The Reader
You have your own story, your own song to tell and sing. Don’t sit back and hold it in. Secrets made me sick, stress held me back. I’ve witnessed fear ruin so many lived.
When I was young, I just knew somebody was coming to rescue me. A knight in shining armor, an angel, a guru, a priest, a director, a producer, a bird, a flower, a tree, a cloud, the moon—anything. And after all that praying and hoping and wishing, it came down to looking in the mirror, taking responsibility for my choices—every last one of them. And it wasn’t until I asked, asked, asked,—you have to ask—that someone did listen with a sincere smile and stood by my side and guided me gently. So, go beyond yourself and fight for it, damnit. Ain’t nobody promised you a rose garden without painful-ass thorns. Go beyond yourself, reach out, and you will touch a hand that will lift you up.
Because I have survived, I owe. Because I still have a smile on my face and am in good health, I owe. Because I live with bipolar disorder and thrive, I owe. Because I made it to the other side of sex addiction, I owe. Because my generation has left behind a world of chaos and environmental deterioration that the next is being made to clean up, I owe. Because while my role as the Mother of Black Hollywood started out as just that—a part to play—the platform has afforded me the opportunity to have so many young people come to me seeking answers to why, how, what, when… please, Miss Lewis? I owe. I owe it to the world to share what I have learned on my journey.
— 303 – 304
Chapter 15: On The Back Of A Two-Humped Camel
With aging comes clarity.
Number one: the elevator to success is broken—take the stairs. Number two: it is when you’re hardest hit that you mustn’t quit. Number three: love yourself so love will not be a stranger when it comes.
Chapter 12: Kicking Down Doors
I don’t need to get up if I can’t get up by myself.
Chapter 11: Dismissing the Diva
[…] once you’ve been a “have not,” you’re forever subject to moments that take you back.
Chapter 10: “It Ain’t That Kind of Call Motherfucker”
We think we’re going to kill our parents by confronting them. But people, including our parents, are often very much able to hear the truth. They may not take it well, but nobody dies from honesty.
I was dumbfounded when Rachel characterized my behavior as extreme. Had she said “you’re crazy,” I would have agreed. I had been crazy all my life. And when she said mental illness, I thought, bitch, you crazy. I associated mental illness with people who couldn’t function, with raving lunatics in straitjackets.
When you’re running, you take yourself with you.
Chapter 8: Hollywood Not Swinging
My modus operandi is to scare a bitch when I feel vulnerable.
It’s one thing to decide that therapy can help you. But’ it’s another thing to actually take the necessary steps to get it.
I’ve learned in life that what you give to others is what provides the most value to your life. There I was, a mess myself, yet I still had something to offer that would have an effect on another person’s world.
Chapter 6: “Ma’am, Are You a Delegate?”
The fact is many parents don’t, or can’t, give you everything you need. Mine couldn’t. So I went in search of substitutes. I often advise young people in this situation to understand there are probably people around every corner who will take them under their wing and help them on their way. But you have to ask.
Chapter 5: Love Versus Dreamgirls
[…] I disconnected from my history with this person in order to survive the present situation. […] This is what trauma does to you—it shuts you down and shuts you up.
Chapter 3: Don’t Tell Mama
You have a right to your thoughts. Have them all, feel them all, so you can get up and keep going.
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