After more than three decades of playing matriarch roles opposite from Tupac, Angela Bassett, Anthony Anderson and Will Smith among many others legendary actress, Jenifer Lewis knows a thing or two about maternal instinct. Although she has no children of her own, the actress has lived a life full of the type of experiences that teaches the best lessons. The self-proclaimed ‘Mother of Black Hollywood’ recently sat down with MADE to share some of her most profound professional and personal moments and how millennials can learn from both her triumphs and challenges. Check out the candid actress’s real advice about managing life’s obstacles.
Smile through the BS no matter what.
Being one of the first black actresses to break many barriers in Hollywood didn’t come without a price. Jenifer spoke on how she pushed through prejudices and gender biases working as a black entertainer throughout the years.
“There’s always going to be some type of storm coming your way no matter how hard you try to avoid it; but the best way to honor God is to take it head on with a smile, especially when you’re at work being judged by people who expect you to fail. Force yourself to have a positive attitude and eventually, people will gravitate towards your light whether they want to or not.”
Don’t garbage collect
An avid proponent of cognitive therapy after being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder more than a decade ago, Jenifer shared one of the most powerful revelations her therapist taught her about recognizing self-sabotage.
“Garbage collecting is what my therapist and I like to call the practice of bs’ing yourself. All of the excuses you make when you feel more comfortable wallowing in self-doubt and failure as opposed to taking accountability for your poor choices. After some time, I’ve been trained to instantly recognize when I begin to collect the garbage and pivot away from that behavior before it really starts to stink up my life.”
Be meticulously careful with your heart
The actress was diagnosed as a sex addict after years of engaging in damaging casual relationships.
“We all want to be loved powerfully and often find ourselves making the wrong choices while in attempting to fulfill that need. However, we need to be smart. Through your romantic dealings, always remind yourself to take inventory on what this person offers you versus what they take away. If the scales tip further in their favor, walk away.”
Never Turn Away from Your Dreams
Before being asked to join the cast of the hit show in its second season, ‘Black-ish,’ the veteran actress hadn’t been on network television in nearly ten years and had considered retiring from the art due to her age and lack of roles.
“I was tired of having audition for parts after having proven myself for more than 40 years in this business; I was ready to hang it up.”
That all changed when her long-time publicist informed her that Black-ish, already a hit, hand-picked Jenifer to play the role of Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) mother.
“Imagine what would’ve happened if I would have given up on myself. It’s NEVER too late to reach your fullest potential.”
Follow Jenifer at JeniferLewisForReal. Her memoir, The Black Mother of Hollywood is also on Amazon.
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