At The Arrival of ‘Love Jones’ on Netflix, ‘Love Jones’ Actress Bernadette Speakes Shares About Being a Christian in Hollywood & More…

Hello World,

Editor’s Note: As of this month, “Love Jones” is on Netflix! As as a result, I’m sharing an interview I did with Bernadette Speakes about the 20th anniversary of the classic film in 2017! Enjoy!

If  you came of age in the ’90s, you know it was the golden age of black cinema…Let me hit you with just a few — “House Party” (1990) “Boyz in the Hood” (1991), “New Jack City” (1991), “Juice” (1992), “Menace to Society” (1993),”Jason’s Lyric” (1993) “Friday” (1995), “Above the Rim” (1995), “Waiting to Exhale” (1995), “Love Jones” (1997) and “The Best Man” in 1999…One of those films “Love Jones” is being celebrated for reaching its 2oth anniversary as of this March with much fanfare, and I’m here for it, particularly as one of my Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters, who also pledged the sorority at the University of Georgia, co-starred in the film! The movie captured a time period in my life just after college when I fancied myself a budding poet (the great poet Nikki Giovanni, also a Delta, even critiqued one of my poems!) and traveled to poetry readings around town with friends. So when I discovered that Bernadette Clarke now Bernadette Speakes, on top of acting in one of my favorite movies of all time and being a Delta, is also a Christian, I knew I had to interview here on After the Altar Call about her journey, particularly as it is the 20th anniversary of the release of “Love Jones.”

Below is my interview with her (which I edited for for the sake of brevity):

1.You were born in New York, raised in Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree in Theater from the University of Georgia in Athens. How did you get from Athens to being cast as Sheila Downes in what has become a classic film “Love Jones?”

After I graduated, I moved back to Chicago, and I began pursuing my career. I ended up meeting Ted (writer and director of ‘Love Jones’) during a master’s thesis film we were doing for someone. He was doing sound. I was one of the actors on the film. And that’s how we first met. And it was very interesting because everybody that was on that shoot, especially one gentleman in particular, kept bragging and kind of boasting about all of these projects and things he had coming up. And Ted really didn’t say anything, he was just kind of joking around and just kind of laid back. We got along really, really well. Next thing I know, like, I think it was less than a year later, I get called on an audition for a film. I walk into the audition room, and it’s Ted. And he’s like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, is this yours?’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Did you have this in the works when we were working together?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it was kind of coming together, but I didn’t want to say anything.’ And that’s how I got cast.

On what set Bernadette apart from other actresses auditioning for the role…

I think Ted could answer that question better than I can, but I will say this about my last audition. I don’t know if you remember in the movie, I do this African dance. So when he wrote that, it was kind of like everybody had been drinking. My character who hadn’t been written yet does this thing, and it’s really simple. And when I auditioned, my agent said you need to come in there with an African dance. And I was like, ‘What?’ And that was my 4th call back. And I said, ‘Is that it? Is that all I have to do?’ And she was like, ‘Yes, they want to see a two-minute African dance.’ I said, ‘Okay.’

God puts things in divine order. I was already dancing with a West African troupe, and I went to one of my friends. We choreographed a routine. I walked into that audition very raw I would say because a very close friend of mine, I didn’t know if he was going to live or die that day because he had AIDS. So I wasn’t even going to go to this audition when I would found out that that he may not make it. I had said I’m not going. And my agent was really mad because I said I was going to visit my friend instead. Well, he found out that I wasn’t going to go to the audition. So he called me, and he swore up and down, he promised me that he would hold on and he said I needed to go do this. He told me he wouldn’t see if I didn’t go do it. So I called my agent and said I was going to go, but I went in there raw. And I guess I put all of that energy into the routine. I went in there with no shoes on, no make up on, these African pants and a leotard. I did my thing, and I was ready to bounce.

And Ted was like, ‘Wait, wait, wait.’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. What’s up?’ He said, ‘I actually wrote something for you that I want you to read on camera.’ I was like, ‘Really? I have no makeup on.’ He said, ‘Naw, it’s all good. I just want to hear how you do it.’ I said, ‘Do you have a note that you want to give me before I read it?’ because it was a cold read. And he said, ‘Yeah. You know those girls who go to Whitney Young? You’re one of those girls.’ And that’s a note that only you being from Chicago (where the film was shot) would understand. Whitney Young (former First Lady Michelle Obama is a graduate) is a predominantly black high school, and it’s like a prep high school. It’s kind of bougie. And my sister went to Whitney Young so I totally knew what he meant when he gave me that note. So that is exactly what I did, and he said, ‘That’s it.’ And when I was finished, I said, ‘Gotta go. Peace out.’

And I think just being authentic and real in that moment is what got me the role. Not to say no one else was, but that is who Sheila is. She is very authentic and real, calls it like she sees it, very loyal to her friends, not fake. So I think the way that whole day kind of evolved brought all of that into place.  I ended up being a co-star in the film which was huge for my first film!

 

2.Twenty years ago, “Love Jones” debuted on March 14. Did you have any idea that it would be a hit movie that continues to resonate with audiences even today?

No, I didn’t.  I don’t know if any of us did. We knew we were doing something unique because nothing had been done in regards to the Chicago scene, the poetry scene or anything like that up until that point. And also, nothing had been done in a real positive, eclectic way of looking at African-American life in this type of setting so we all kind of knew that, but we didn’t know that it would burst. The irony is that it didn’t do well financially. It didn’t cost a lot to make, but it wasn’t in the theaters for a really long time. But it became this pop culture film, and once it went to video and television and online streaming and all of that stuff, it started to reach the masses in different geographical settings. My daughter, she is a millennial, and all of her friends know about the movie. People in my parents’ age group, they know about the movie so it became this really iconic film. And we had no idea that is what we were doing.

And for me, it wasn’t just about the movie. It was about the soundtrack too. Even today, you can listen to the soundtrack, and it’s still good.

And I really credit all of that to Ted. Ted is an amazing visionary artist. He’s a photographer. He’s a connoisseur of music, jazz, classical, R&B, blues. Like he loves it all. And he put all of that in the film.

Me and Bernadette in Athens, Georgia recently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of our Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated Chapter, the Zeta Psi Chapter, at the University of Georgia…

3. I read that last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the event “In the Mood for ‘Love Jones’ – The Academy Celebrates the Film’s 20th Anniversary,” which included a screening of the film at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. What was it like to reunite with the entire cast, and was this your first time reuniting with everyone since the movie debuted?

No, in February, we all saw each other at the ABFF (American Black Film Festival) Awards which was awesome! It was amazing to see all of us older. When we first did the film, none of us were married.  Well, actually, Isaiah was married, and I was the only one who had a child. And we were all like in our early 20s. So when we see each other 20 years later, we’re all married. We all have kids. We’re older, wise, a lot more debonair. (laughter) And then it was really great to see each other again (at the academy event). And everyone is doing well in their lives. I had seen Bill Bellamy and Nia in passing at different events, but we all didn’t keep in touch. Well, I personally didn’t. I think some of them are closer in relationships than I am with them, but it was really beautiful for all of us to be together again.

4.In addition to “Love Jones,” you were featured along side Oscar Award-Winning Actor Sidney Poitier in “To Sir with Love II.” You’ve appeared in several TV shows such as ParenthoodMonk and Boston Legal. And you have acted in several theater productions in addition to being CEO of Dreams Take a Minute Productions in Los Angeles. Have you had a strategy in advancing in your acting career or do you have a principle that has guided you as you’ve made moves in your career?

I think the main thing that I do, I think most people would say, you should focus on one thing, Represent yourself well in that one thing and then move on to the next thing. And I’m more of an eclectic person. I can’t just focus on one thing. And also, I’m a stay-at-home mom taking care of my kids. So it was like what can I do to stay creative but not jeopardize or sacrifice this time in my children’s lives. And that fueled my decision making.

I feel like the industry isn’t going anywhere. It’s always going to evolve and grow, but it’s not going anywhere. So for me, I didn’t want to miss the legacy of my family and missing moments of when my kids grow up and taking steps toward their mark in the world for the sake of my dreams. I would rather still stay productive in my career, watch them grow, get them to a point where they can jump off the cliff so to speak into their dreams and then usher in mine. I don’t regret making that decision. I know I’m not where I could have been. I have not accomplished half of what my colleagues have, and I’m so happy for and proud of them. But for me, my family is my pride and joy. I look at my kids and how they are today, and I’m so glad  I put them first. And my marriage is solid. My husband and I have been together 18 years. I think marriage is hard regardless of whether you’re in the Hollywood scene or not, two people trying to live together with flaws and all. But I think definitely my husband and I have cultivated something that is amazing. We’re each other’s biggest fan.

And now we’re at a point in our lives where are our kids are going, ‘Go do you thing.’ They want to see us soar, especially me. My kids definitely realize what I’ve given up in a sense and now they’re like , ‘Go soar Mom’ and that feels so good.

5.In addition to your acting career, I also admire that you are a Christian. How and when did you find your way to Christianity? Tell me about that journey. What is it like to be a Christian in Hollywood?

It was a journey within itself. My mom’s family are Baptists, and my dad’s are Catholics so I was always around some type of faith-based environment. But it didn’t really appeal to me honestly because I saw a lot of hypocrisy so I wasn’t interested. But then when I got to college, I felt lost. And I felt like I wanted to be a better version of me, but I didn’t really know what that meant. But I chose to become a Muslim. When I went back to Chicago, there is a very large population of Muslims where I lived which was Hyde Park, so I studied with an imam under Sunni Muslims. But I still felt like my soul was crying out for something.

There’s a reputable theatre in Chicago called the Steppenwolf Theatre, and I ended up being cast in two shows that same year with that theatre company, and God put Christians in both shows. It was the first time that I saw Christians not only own their imperfections but were authentic. Like they weren’t ‘judgy’ or judgmental or religious like a Pharisee or legalistic. And they were extremely talented women in the arts whom I highly respected. And all of that kind of piqued my interest and made me think, ‘Well maybe I have this whole Christianity thing wrong.’

So these women studied the Bible with me, and I asked 50 million questions because I had a lot of bitterness in my heart. They helped me sort through a lot of it. So I fell in love with Jesus. He was this masterful storyteller, the very thing that I am, he is the epitome of. I fell in love with the Bible. It became a no brainer for me to follow Him.

On how her faith helped Bernadette to transition to Hollywood…

So I was converted in Chicago, and when I moved to California, the church that I was a part of in Chicago, had a sister church in California, and they just actually moved me here. I moved here with nothing. It was literally my child, my clothes and my car. And the ministry in California gave me a household with roommates and a community that I’ve been with for almost 22 years. My church is called Turning Point LA. We changed our name. It used to be AMS, which stands for Arts Media Sports in the Los Angeles Church of Christ.

Being a Christian in Hollywood, I feel like it’s the fire that fuels me. And not because I’m trying to go out here with fire and brimstone. I’ve always been rebellious in my nature. Like I was the first to get tattoos in my family, the first to get piercings in my family, I had a baby out of wedlock. But now I get to be rebellious in a whole different way. When you look at Hollywood, you can say there are innovators absolutely, but I want to be defiant in a different way. So it definitely fuels me where I feel like I don’t have to compromise or give up anything just because I’m a Christian. What’s mine is still going to be mine and what isn’t isn’t. And I’m not going to apologize for who I am because I’m an actor and a storyteller. It doesn’t hinder me at all.

6.I know that you had a bout with illness. How did your faith sustain you during what I’m sure was a difficult time in your life?

It was 2014, and I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was cancer of my bone marrow. It was stage 4, and it was aggressive. I had a tumor in my back that cracked my vertebrae. I had been sick for six months before I found out that I even had cancer. It was a progressive cancer to say the least. And it caused excruciating pain that wasn’t helped by morphine or Percocet. And I was hallucinating with the dosages they gave me to so I didn’t want the dosages because I didn’t have a clear mind when I was using them. I had the choice to do medical marijuana which I prayed a lot about, and I chose not to do that either. It was a time when I felt like the physical pain, the emotional anguish and the spiritual suffering that Jesus went through when He went to the cross, this is an opportunity for me to experience that intimacy, even on a small scale, with Christ.

On choosing to focus on joy and gratitude during illness…

I think when you go through suffering, it can either be a burden or it can be a joy. And joy doesn’t mean happiness. Joy means I think your perspective and your gratitude. For me, I chose a joyful, grateful perspective going into it and that is what sustained me. I was sick for just over a year. When you have Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, there is only one combination that is curable. The combination that I had which is stage 4 aggressive was a curable combination for the type of chemo prescribed for me. I’m in remission now. I’m technically not cured until the 3 to 5 year mark.

7. Is there anything else you want to add?

I’m not done yet. I may have not been on the scene for a while, but trust me when I tell you, I’m not done yet.

Bernadette Speakes recently completed two films, and is about to step into another in mid-February. She has been adventurous on stage in 2014, stepping into her first COMEDY…Elephant Theatre’s West Coast Premiere of “North Plan,” directed by David Fofi. During the 2013 Fringe Festival, she portrayed Tituba, in “The Crucible.” She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from the University of Georgia; and presently continues to hone her craft at various acting studios around the Los Angeles area.

Bernadette was a part of the Producing Queens of The Trunk Show… which brings its own uniqueness in the world of storytelling. She is also the creator and producer of “Get Up Stand Up…Clean Comedy 4 A Change,” a comedy showcase that bridges the gap of laughter and charity together. Bernadette has also appeared in several acclaimed shows, such as The Elephant Theater’s “In Arabia We’d Be Kings,” and The Fountain Theater’s West Coast Production of Direct from Death Row…”The Scottsboro Boys.” She’s performed at the Steppenwolf Theater, Goodman, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, and the Matrix’s LA Premier of An Evening with Shakespeare featuring Charles S. Dutton.

Awards include an Emmy Nomination for “A Stage of Our Own,” with James Earl Jones, The LA Drama Critic’s Circle, and the LA Weekly. Other Film & TV Credits include…”The Soloist,” “Heroes,” “Parenthood,”” To Sir with Love II” with Mr. Sidney Poitier, and the 1997 Sundance Festival Winner, “Love Jones,” which was honored this year, the 20th anniversary of its release, at the 2017 ABFF AWARDS for its contribution as a cinematic classic in African-American films!

So if you’ve never seen “Love Jones,” see it NOW on Netflix!

Any thoughts?

Greenleaf Recap Season 4 Episode 5: Unwanted…

Hello World,

So y’all, this episode has been the BEST episode of Season 4 and let me explain why in this Greenleaf Recap Season 4 Episode 5: Unwanted…

Everything She Wants…

This explosive and yet internally rich episode begins with the baby of the family Charity explaining to her baby Nathan why he will be seeing less of his mama. I will be preaching soon, she says to her son who has nothing to say (because he can’t talk yet!LOL) about her nonsensical statement. This poor chile (not Nathan her son) thinks that everything she wants she will get…Grace busts into Charity’s suite and breaks up the mother and son bonding time. She confronts her sister about leaving that reckless message on the voicemail of Noah and Isabel. “She kicked him out and now he’s moving in with his folks. You broke up a marriage.”

As Grace interrogates Charity, she tries to act her like phone call was innocent but when she is by herself, she knows that she has invited God’s judgment on her. She watches a television preacher preach, “Judge not that you not be judged…When you go messing with other people, you’re playing with fire.” We all know that what you sow, you shall reap. Charity has sown duplicity to serve her own goals so she shouldn’t be surprised when she reaps duplicity to serve someone else’s goals. (Phil DeMars, anyone?)

The newly named associate pastor Jacob starts off this episode with a noble cause unlike his baby sister. The first time we see him, he is sitting on his bed, praying that God will use him to serve the homeless in the city of Memphis. “Use me mightily on their behalf,” Jacob says. In other words, he wants what God wants and Charity wants what she wants without seeking God’s will.

Grace, Jacob and Charity’s mother’s, Lady Mae, who readily goes after what she wants and seeks what God wants (at least some of the time anyway), is searching through Bob Whitmore’s book. She tells Kerissa, “I’m looking through his book for clues about why he set up camp here.” After she explains what she is doing, she still feels Kerissa staring at her. She asks her what does she want. “I can feel a need stalking me from a mile away.” Kerissa asks if she and Jacob can take their furniture in their suit to furnish their new home. But Lady Mae denies her request, reminding her that the first time they left for the “flimsy parsonage,” they took furniture then. And then when they were run out of the parsonage, they left the furniture there for that “Nigerian to sell on Ebay.” She tells her daughter-in-law that this time the couple has to buy their own furniture. I’m with Lady Mae. This is not a newly married couple who needs a head start. It’s not Lady Mae’s fault that Basie, Tasha and Rochelle tricked them like they were toddlers playing Peekaboo. Jacob and Kerissa need to grow up, at least financially anyway…(And had they kept their land and sacrificed short-term gain for long-term wealth, they would be able to achieve this…)

Bishop is occupied as well. Bishop and his former assistant Karine are uploading all of his sermons onto a hard drive. Apparently, he’s doing research for a speaking engagement in Atlanta. “I can’t tell you how much I miss preaching.” As you may remember, Lady Mae doesn’t think Bishop should venture away from Calvary, even for one Sunday. “Nero did stay in town while Rome was burning,” she says.

Although Charity is pretty much a spoiled brat, after she’s had some time to think, she realizes her action was flat out wrong. What she wants isn’t worth what it costs. She unburdens herself by telling Carlton the choir director what happened with Noah and Isabel.  Carlton tells Charity, “Hell is for those folks who don’t want to turn to God.” Although Charity wants to do right, a part of her still wants to wrong. “I haven’t fully turned away from the sin that got me into this mess.”

Any Way You Want It…

Also at Calvary, Phil DeMars, with his shady self, walks up on Grace and tells her to take Jacob’s proposal for a homeless outreach program off of the board agenda. But Grace continues to let Phil know that he’s not the boss of her. After she gets him straight, she walks into her office where she finds her son! “Did anyone see you come in here?” she asks A.J. He assures her that his arrival was under the radar. While in her office, he takes the opportunity to gaze at photographs of his extended family including Bishop and Lady Mae. “They look like good people.” Grace gets a bit nervous, probably thinking about the fact that A.J. is closer than ever to meeting them. But A.J. reassures her. “I’m not here to blow up your spot.”

He then pivots to the reason for his risky visit. “Are you going to give me money or not, and it’s not like you don’t have it.” See…So I know this kid wasn’t exactly raised, but he needs some on-the-spot home training. What you are not gonna do is talk to me like we are on the same level. Although she abandoned him, she was the one who brought him into this world. At least, he can speak to her in a respectful tone. And then when Grace asks him about how his job search is going and offers to get him a job, he says, “I’m not a d**** charity case.” Grace wants to have a relationship with her son finally, but I’m sure this is not the way she wants it to be.

But before A.J. can continue hitting up his mother like she’s his personal ATM machine, Phil busts in on the meeting. He senses he has interrupted something important but asks about the whereabouts of Karine. Grace tells him that she is with Bishop. “Oh, she’s taking a sick day,” Phil says after noting that Bishop doesn’t work for Calvary anymore. But Grace tells him Karine is on the clock and her meeting with Bishop is really helping Grace. When it comes to Phil, Grace is determined to have it any way she wants it.  After Phil leaves, A.J. gets up to walk out the way he comes in, but Grace directs him to a different door. She explains this it is the door that is used in case of a fire. A.J. says, “I guess I’m fire.”

Speaking of fire, Nicki, the girlfriend of Memphis Red Devils’ b-ball star Dante Saunders, calls up Zora to invite her to a “super lit” soire (party) at Dante’s house. Y’all know Zora is ’bout that life.

Following Grace’s meeting with A.J., she meets with her attorney and half-brother Aaron. He explains that with the help of Grace’s inheritance from their father, Bishop’s IRS bill has been paid in full. “The worst is behind you,” he says. Not so counselor, from where I’m sitting. Grace must agree with me because she asks her brother if he could employ a young man at the church. She explains that “he’s got a record” and “needs a routine.” Aaron agrees to do so and asks Grace to send the young man to his office later that day.

While Grace is still keeping her secret a secret, Charity realizes she is not willing to get to Grace’s secret on behalf of Phil DeMars. “Phil, I can’t do this anymore.” She explains that her phone call to Noah’s house led to his wife’s decision to kick him out of their home. “I wan’t to be AP,” she says,”but I don’t want to mess up people’s lives to get there.” Phil DeMars tries to convince her to continue spying for him. “Uncovering evil is not evil,” he says. But Charity says, “If a thing doesn’t want to be seen, I’m not going to lift up a rock. I’m not like you.” (That almost sounds like a Lady Mae line, right?)  Thank God Charity is coming to her senses!

I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party…

Lady Mae and Bishop always find a way spoil the party and have discord. “Give them the furniture,” Bishop says to his ex-wife. “Bless them as they leave.” Lady Mae says that she wants her son in her house, but she does have a way to make a deal. “Don’t go to Atlanta.” “Quid pro quo,” Bishop states. (Where have a heard that term lately?) “I’ve already told Desiree yes,” he says. She responds with, “I’ve already told Kerissa no.” Lady Mae says, “The fire of loyalty to the Greenleaf name is dying and it needs tending.”

Grace’s fire a.k.a. A.J. shows up at his Uncle Aaron’s office. Once the two introduce their selves to one another, as much as they can anyway with Aaron not knowing that he is meeting his nephew, A.J. lauds the virtues of his half-sister. He calls her the “real deal,” recounts how she has been known to give the shoes off of her feet to strangers and explains how she feels life more deeply than others. He finishes his praise with, “She’s special.” A.J. doesn’t know what to say so he asks about the location of the bathroom. As they say, when you have nothing good to say, say nothing. Aaron was having a praise Grace party and A.J. didn’t want to spoil it.

Phil DeMars doesn’t want to spoil his personal connection to the Greenleaf estate. So he approaches Charity again. She promptly tells, “Get behind me Satan.” LOL

But Phil is persistent, telling her that she really doesn’t know the real him. He invites her to dinner for her to get to know him better. Oh Charity. If a man is asking you to turn on your own family, then no amount of getting to know him is gonna make him a good dude.

Back at the Greenleaf estate, Bishop and Lady Mae are still at it. She tells him that Bob Whitmore invited her to speak at the National Women’s Gathering for the Harmony & Hope churches to be held in D.C. But she politely declined the invitation in order to maintain her “presence” at Calvary. She hopes that Bishop will realize that he needs to follow suit. But Bishop is an Alpha male to her Alpha female. “Do you know what it feels like to be ignored and unwanted?” he says. “You’ve never been unwanted ever. All I want is one more Sunday.” Not being in the pulpit is starting to get to Bishop. Lady Mae reveals that when Bishop was following behind Lady Mae’s sister Mavis and Rochelle Cross, that made her feel ignored and unwanted. “I want to be respected and heard,” she says. “I think you mean obeyed,” says Bishop. “I haven’t once mentioned Lionel and how that made me feel.” Lady Mae spits out, “If it’s that important to you, go to Atlanta.”

Phil DeMars wants Charity to feel like he wants her. At dinner, he explains that he ghostwrites all of Bob Whitmore’s sermons and books. “I”m Bob Whitmore.” He also says how he would like to be the pastor of Calvary as it is the only black in the Harmony & Hope churches. (There’s your clue, Lady Mae.) She starts to feel like they have something in common as he has been forced to be in the background although their gifts have made the church shine, much like Charity I will admit…

Although Jacob isn’t exactly wanted at Calvary, he does work there. He presents his proposal to help the homeless in front of the board. His presentation actually goes over well, but an emergency call from Zora causes him to rush out of the meeting like his pants are on fire. Zora warns him that Dante, whom Jacob is supposed to be supervising, is having a wild party at his house and it’s getting out of control. Dante is threatening to burn the confederate flag and when a white team member bucks on Dante, a blaze of a fight is ignited. Jacob tries to stop the fight even as partygoers document the mess on their cell phones.

I Want To Be Loved…

When Grace hears that A.J. blew off the interview with Aaron by excusing himself to go to the bathroom and never coming back, she confronts him about it. A.J. explains how Aaron’s praise of Grace made him uncomfortable given how he was treated by Grace. “He thinks you’re so good.” A.J. explains that because she thinks she is good, she cannot be trusted. Given the fact that he was shuttled from foster home to foster home and obviously endured abusive conditions all because his mother chose not to raise him, he knows that Grace is not what she and others think she is. “It’s the ones who think they’re good that you have to worry about.” Finally, he says, “Grace we’re done.” And then he takes it a step further. “And the next person who asks me who I am, I’m telling them.”

Back at the Greenleaf estate, now that Bishop’s sermons have been stored on a hard drive, he watches one of his old sermons in which he is reminded of a message that he preached. The message that he preached actually spoke back to him. “God is longing to sit with you and talk it all out…When you’re life is too hard, we’ve got to have a talk with God.”

Two people that are having a tough time talking in this episode are Lady Mae and Kerissa. Before she can plead her case again, Lady Mae criticizes her daughter-in-law for enlisting Bishop in her request to take the furniture with the family when they leave. And since Kerissa is leaving, she decides to let Lady Mae have it in her own bedroom no less. She tells her that “no one has ever hurt me the way you hurt me.” She explains that the reason that she sought the approval of Lady Mae was that her own mother was always in a competition with her. (But Kerissa always seems like she is competing against all of the Greenleaf women, right? Name one woman that she truly gets along with…I am glad that we’re getting some backstory on Kerissa though…) She blames Lady Mae for everything and calls Lady Mae an “old rusted jalopy with a corpse in the trunk.” Wow! If this is her way of getting the love she wants, this is not the way to do it. Obviously Lady Mae agrees with me because she slaps her daughter in a way that reminds me of those old-time night soap operas like “Dynasty.” Those slaps reverberated like gun shots fired!

Bishop walks in on them and for some reason believes the two have made peace?! But Lady Mae does say, “We’ve come to an understanding.” After Kerissa leaves, he tells her that he is not going to Atlanta after all. “God is trying to get me to slow down and see myself, see Him.” I guess this is what God told him once he decided to speak with God about his dilemmas – missing preaching and regaining control of Calvary the right way. You can’t escape your pain. You have to face it, Bishop…

Kerissa is gonna need to talk with Jesus now. Jacob comes home and tells her what happened with Dante. As a result, he has lost his job with the Memphis Red Devils. “You’re going to have to wait on that house.” Bwaaaahaaa…As crazy as that moment is, it’s not THE moment of the episode. That happens next.

The next morning, Grace walks in on her mother, who is studying Hebrews in the kitchen in preparation for her Bible study with Zora. She tells Grace that the book “mystifies her.” Grace explains that she is little mystified herself and needs her help with something. Lady Mae says, “What is it?” Grace replies, “My son.”

And scene…A mic drop moment for reals…What we gon do? What we gon do? When Lady Mae gets involved, the drama will be on 10…And from the preview, I can tell that even a newfound grandson is not gonna stop Lady Mae from reaching her destiny…You reach for Lady Mae, you will be left looking at a nub…convict or not…A.J. thinks he wants to be loved but not like this…

So the reason I LOVED this episode and think it’s the best one so far this season is that we finally got to see into Kerissa after three seasons of not knowing anything about her background, we got to see a good old-fashioned soap opera slap between two divas and we got to see Lady Mae realize that Grace is her daughter in more ways than one…What say you?

Thank you sooo much for reading my Greenleaf Recap Season 4 Episode 5: Unwanted… and my other recaps so far. If you would like to keep up with OWN’s “Greenleaf,” and my recaps, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

Any thoughts?

 

 

Jacqueline J. Holness (AKA ME!) Reveals the Cover of Her New Novel ‘Destination Wedding!’ (INTERVIEW)

Hello World,

Sorry I had to do it. Write in the third person that is. I just couldn’t figure out how to state the fact that I have written my first novel without being a little extra. And referring to yourself in the third person is as extra as you can get on a written page. So pardon me for being braggadocios. It’s just that I’ve written a novel that I’m extremely proud of and it’s finally time to tell you all about it!

When I first imagined myself as a writer at the adorable age of six, I saw myself weaving words into worlds as a novelist. Well, maybe not a quite a novel, but certainly a work of fiction. As I matured and began to grasp that writing was not as simple as it seemed, I gravitated toward journalism where real life (just the facts, ma’am) was written down and every story was thankfully short. I just didn’t think I had enough words to write a whole novel. But in my heart, behind the wall of fear, I wondered if I would ever summon enough stamina and skill to craft a world of words also known as a novel. In 2009, yes, 10 years ago, a real-life event took hold of me and demanded that I explore this topic as a novel. And it literally took me 10 years to learn how to write a novel AND get it published. So Destination Wedding written by Jacqueline J. Holness (oh so extra I know) will be released in December to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the real-life event that inspired me and captivated me enough to write a novel at long last! So below is the synopsis followed by my interview with 96Kix’s Kimberly Kaye, who interviewed me as I wrote Destination Wedding. (Read and or listen to the interview.)

Three successful best friends in Atlanta believe they are thriving in the Black Mecca. Bossy bank executive Senalda breaks down men from business to bed no holds barred. Hip hop PR guru Jarena praises the Lord and pursues married men with equal persistence. Famous and infamous radio personality Mimi fights with her fans and for the love of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.

But when an ABC News Nightline report, “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company,” asks why can’t a successful black woman find a man? The friends are suddenly hyper-aware of their inclusion in the sad statistic: 42% of black women who have never been married. Like the women in the report, they are career-driven, beautiful black women living in Atlanta who have everything — but a mate. They resolve to defy the statistic by marrying in a year and have it all by tackling their goal as a project with a vision board, monthly meetings, and more. Project Destination Wedding is born. A “happily married” best friend Whitney is a project consultant.

But as the deadline ticks closer, the women wonder if they can withstand another year of looking for love in the media-proclaimed no-man’s land of Atlanta. Senalda wrests a marriage proposal from the male version of herself, but the proposal comes simultaneously with a devastating secret. Jarena unleashes hell when her call to ministry coincides with dating her married college sweetheart. Mimi faces losing her career and jail time chasing her boyfriend and marries another man in the process. Whitney’s power couple profile plummets when her husband, a pornography addict, announces he would rather pursue photography than be an MD.

Inspired by an actual Nightline report, Destination Wedding charts four women’s journeys as they discover that love is not an experiment easily confined to a timetable.

These are the four main characters as I saw them in my mind as I was writing- Jarena, Mimi, Senalda & Whitney…Can you match the women to how they actually turned out on the cover?

Kimberly: 96 KIX. On the line with me, I have Jacqueline Holness. How are you Jacqueline?

Jacqueline: I’m great. How are you Kimberly?

Kimberly: I’m wonderful. Welcome back to the show!

Jacqueline: Thank you so much for having me!

Kimberly: You know the last time you we talked it was all about ‘After the Altar Call.’ Now, what have you been up to? I know I always read your blog. Always.

Jacqueline: Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate that. You never know who is reading. Thank you so much.

Kimberly: How is it working with the blog?

Jacqueline: Well, I love to write so it’s a creative outlet for me. And I’m always surprised when people actually respond to what I write because it’s not something that I get paid to do. I just love to do it. Even if people didn’t read it, I would still write.

Kimberly: You said, regardless, you’re gonna blog!

Jacqueline: Yes! Definitely.

Kimberly: Now, how do you pick your topics to know what to blog about?

Jacqueline: Well, the most important aspect of my life is my faith so I always want to talk about my faith and whatever area I choose to talk about whether it be pop culture or whether it be more serious issues, I always try to look at it through the lens of having faith in God and how God would want us to see certain things that play out in our society.

Kimberly: Right,  well that’s great. Now, also I saw that you are getting ready to write another book for us.

Jacqueline: Yes, I grew up reading fiction books, but when I got older, I just veered off into non-fiction books. But recently, I rediscovered my love of fiction and I decided to write a fiction book about three single black women in Atlanta.

Kimberly: Alright. Can you give us a little bit more? Or is that all you can give us?

Jacqueline: (Laughter) I’ll tell you a little more about it, but I’m not finished yet. But basically, I’m not sure if you saw the ABC News Nightline special that came on in December 2009 where it was quoted that 42% of black women have never been married?

Kimberly: Wow! That’s a high percentage.

Jacqueline: Yes, a very high percentage and they featured black women in Atlanta who had everything but a mate. And from there, there was a debate that was held in Atlanta. Steve Harvey was here. Sherri Shepherd. A lot of notables came in town to debate this issue in Atlanta. So as a black woman, I was single at the time, I’m married now, it really impacted me. And I thought what if I wrote a book about black women, fictional black women, who saw this report, and decided to defy the statistics and get married in a year.

Kimberly: Now you live in Atlanta?

Jacqueline: I do live in Atlanta.

Kimberly: Do you see that problem?

Jacqueline: Well, I see it all over. When I travel, I meet a lot of single black women, but for some reason, Atlanta seems to be the epicenter I guess of single black women. And because I was single and just got married at 40 years old, I know what it’s like to be single and I know what it’s like to wonder, ‘Why aren’t men choosing me?’ So I decided to write a book from my own personal journey and do it through the lens of fiction.

Kimberly: That sounds great. Do you know when you will be finished?

Jacqueline: Well, I hope to have the rough draft finished very soon. I’m going to work on it for the next few months. What interested you when you read, I know you read the blog post about me working on this book. What interested you? I’m just curious.

Kimberly: Like you said, we have a lot in common, Jacqueline.  I got married when I was 40. Same thing.

Jacqueline: Oh really?

Kimberly: Yes, we have that in common. I was going through life, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna ever get married.’ But once I quit thinking about it, dwelling on it, it happened so that’s what kind of intrigued me. It takes a lot. You wonder, Am I doing something wrong? Is it me? Why didn’t I get married when I was in my 20s or in my 30s? So that’s why I was interested.

Jacqueline: Wow! So I’m so glad we have that in common. We may have to talk off the air later about that as older women who have gotten married. That’s a category in itself – older brides. I may have to write something about that.

Kimberly: (Laughter) Yes! Well, I’m anticipating it.

Jacqueline: Yes, well, please go to my website AftertheAltarCall.com and you will see updates about the book. I’m really excited about, and I hope it will be on bookshelves as soon as possible.

Kimberly: And that’s also why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to spread the word about your blog. I think it’s just terrific, and I want everyone to be aware of it.

Jacqueline: Oh, thank you so much!

(Note: There is just a minute or so more left of the interview, but I included what pertains to today’s blog post.)

 

Below are some advance reviews I have received about Destination Wedding!

“Jacqueline J. Holness has penned a delightful read that puts a new spin on the age-old dilemma of the beautiful, successful, single black woman finding a mate! Did I say beautiful and successful? Set in the Black Mecca – The ATL – Destination Wedding will have you asking, “Why is this so hard?” I found myself in the moment, rooting for these women – and thoroughly enjoyed their journeys to happily-ever-after.” – Monica Richardson, author of the Talbots of Harbour Island series

“In need of a getaway? Destination Wedding is the read you need. Filled with characters that will remind you of your girlfriends and unexpected adventures, it’s the perfect vacation read.” – Chandra Sparks Splond, author and blogger

“In Destination Wedding, Jacqueline J. Holness takes readers on page-turning twists and turns that hijack several friendships on the path to love. If you’re eager for an entertaining read that will leave you rooting for the characters as if they’re your friends, pick up your copy today.” – Stacy Hawkins Adams, multi-published author of Coming HomeWatercolored PearlsThe Someday List and more

So Destination Wedding will officially debut on Dec. 3, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Target right now! And I’m not gonna be shy about this: I want this book to be a best-selling book so your pre-orders will help me achieve that goal! As a matter of fact, I will be offering some free gifts if you pre-order so come back here often for updates!

Finally, if you would like to be a member of my book launch team which means getting a FREE advance copy of Destination Wedding, email me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com!

Thank you so much for reading this blog post, and I hope and pray you will be reading my first novel Destination Wedding very soon!

Any thoughts?