Sunday, October 10, 2010

Terry McMillan On Love, Forgiveness and 'Getting to Happy'

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20:  Author Terri McMillan   attends the BET Inauguration Ball on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
Call it a book signing and reading, but a recent event featuring Terry McMillan felt more like a girlfriends get together. Hundreds of women, and a few men, filed into Berkley's Black Repertory Theater earlier this month, with books in hand, eager to have their copy of McMillan's latest novel "Getting to Happy" signed. Fans were ready to hear McMillan talk about love, life and of course her high-profile divorce.  Marcus Books hosted the reading in the packed theater where some guests had to sit on stage. The bestselling author and Bay Area resident was winding down her tour to promote the sequel to the 1992 groundbreaking tale  "Waiting to Exhale." The novel, which also became a blockbuster film,  follows four black female friends in their 30's as they go through their ups and downs in love.  Many black women at that time, felt the book reflected the obstacles black women experience in finding "the one."  "In Getting to Happy" the ladies are in their 50's, but life isn't fabulous. Bernadine is battling a prescription drug addiction. Robin finds her job and life boring, but is still holding out for Mr. Right. Gloria, well without giving away too much, things just aren't good. And the passion in Savannah's marriage is evaporating.

'What I do know is I'm tired of feeling navy blue when I have a right to feel lemon yellow,' McMillan, sporting a fiery, red afro, read from Savannah's chapter. McMillan, 58,  said she wrote the sequel with middle-aged women in mind to "inspire women who have almost become emotionally dead...and have not given themselves more freedom to enjoy the rest of their lives."  She also wanted readers to know that once you hit your 50's, "it's not all downhill from here."

Author Terry McMillan reading to excited fans at the Black Repertory Theater
 McMillan's struggles with her own journey to happiness began several years ago after learning her husband, Jonathan Plummer was gay. In 2005 the marriage ended in messy divorce, leaving McMillan angry and hurt.
"I had become someone I didn't even know, " she shared with the audience.  When asked how she was able to move on from the past she replied, "If you're being robbed and raped of the beauty of the present, let it go."

According to McMillan, 20th Century Fox bought the movie rights to "Getting to Happy." Three of  the original leading actresses from "Waiting to Exhale" are confirmed to reprise their roles--Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. There's no word yet if Whitney Houston will return.

McMillan's route to happiness is taking her away from the Bay Area.  The Contra Costa Times reports the author plans to move out of her suburban home in Danville and relocate to more lively cities like Los Angeles and New York. As for love, McMillan told the Berkeley audience she has dated since the divorce and is open to marriage.

"Men should be more like a semicolon and not a period. Although I'm looking for an exclamation point."


*Article also available on CityFlight.com*

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