Review of "The Mother of Black Hollywood"

By Jenifer Lewis
Amistad, 2017
Review by Kaolin on Jan 2nd 2018
The Mother of Black Hollywood

Several weeks ago I saw Jenifer Lewis on The View TV show as she spoke about her new memoir, being diagnosed with Bipolar illness mid-way in her career and having been in the entertainment industry for decades. Lewis is presently a star on the TV program “blackish” and as the title of the book suggests The Mother of Black Hollywood: a Memoir Lewis has played the mother of many popular stars in the field.

In her memoir there are 320 pages including 8 pgs...of photos, plus a Letter to the Reader, 5 pgs. of Acknowledgments including many celebrities and a Career Overview.

There is a great deal of information in her memoir: references to extreme poverty in early childhood, child abuse she reconciled herself to in adulthood; coming to terms with and understanding her single mother once she became a mom; attempted child molestation from a local revered preacher and an expressive personality some found compelling while others grew wary of because her need for attention seemed excessive to them. Lewis also included her concerns around aging, the impact of the losses of loved ones combined with a recurring desire to work. Her zest for life comes through with much love, acceptance and humor!

Lewis grew from many experiences, including relationships that reinforced her self-definition but also lead her into risky terrains, most especially during the time in her life when HIV positive surfaced as a illness that was here to stay and so many lived with it and died from it.

Throughout her memoir those of you who are aware of the symptoms for Bipolar disorder will recognize the sexual addictive behaviors. Lewis herself refers to them and the rapid-cycling, brash resentment and anger often expressed to peers; jealousy of their own competence or success and her depressions until she starts therapy and explores the advantages of treatment.

From childhood onward becoming famous was her dream. Persevering throughout the business’s ups and downs takes talent, strength and resilience. Ms. Lewis contributed to a part of the American History of Broadway in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as the Civil Rights Movement shaped the Arts & Broadway in ways that were long overdue!

In her memoir the language and sex disappointed me. Therapy was saved for the last 40 pages of the book however inferred at different points throughout it. We all have our preferences. However there is a great deal of information in this memoir and one must applaud those who open their hearts and souls to the reader and that is exactly what Jenifer Lewis has done.


© 2017 Kaolin


Kaolin is a lecturer and the author of Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives. Her 2nd book Protocol: Welcome to Paradise, Watch Your Step will be launched in 2018 for more info. please go to HTTP://WWW.LTAR.BIZ



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