Photo by David Livingston
Photo by David Livingston

Jenifer Lewis has played the mother of many actors in Hollywood —from Angela Bassett’s mother in What’s Love Got to Do With It? to Tupac’s mom in Poetic Justice. On her birthday, we caught up with the talent about life, her book The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir and advice to young actors.

 “I always knew I would write a book, which is one of the reasons I kept journals throughout my life,” she told ESSENCE. “But the thing that really helped me to decide is the Internet. I realized that I had the ear and the attention of so many people, especially young people, and the time felt right.”

“As I say in the book — I feel that I owe my story in the hope that it will inspire or entertain people — young, old, gay, women, whoever — to pursue their dream. Especially now, when we are in the midst of this enormous struggle for civil rights and for the environment.”

For the full story, visit Essence.com/Celebrity.

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