Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful

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Harper Collins, May 4, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
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From an inside peek at the inner workings of Hollywood to the backstage drama of Broadway, from a poignant look at the black upper class to an honest look at the WASP elite, this elegantly wrought memoir of an extraordinary family has something for everyone.

Growing up with a black Auntie Mame-like mother (who performed with the likes of Lena Horne) and an Anglo sea-faring father, Susan Fales-Hill moved seamlessly between many worlds. But it was from her mother -- a woman who was dressed by Givenchy and sculpted by Alexander Calder, yet rejected by many a casting agent for her "dark," unconventional looks -- that Susan drew inspiration, particularly when she faced challenges in her own career as a television writer in Hollywood, a town that wasn't always receptive to positive images of people of color. As a result the two developed a bond that mothers and daughters everywhere will find inspiring. Both a universally touching mother-daughter story and a portrait of a dazzling American family, Always Wear Joy is a memoir readers won't soon forget.

 

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Always wear joy: my mother bold and beautiful

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The late, Haitian-born Josephine Premice lived an extraordinary life, performing as a dancer, singer, and actress in nightclubs, theaters, and TV shows. Her daughter, Fales-Hill, a successful TV ... Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE Through a Glass Darkly I
5
PART
89
Someday My Part Will Come
95
At Long Last Ohsession
117
And They Said It Wouldnt Last
137
Writing the Invisihle Women
169
In Search of the Eternal City
189
The Last Cigarette
207
Darling Youve Found Your Life
225
Now Look Here Jesus
237
Dont Like Goodhyes
251
Redemption Songs
261
Notes
269
Acknowledgments
277
Copyright

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Page 29 - twas but the wind, Or the car rattling o'er the stony street; On with the dance! let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet But hark!
Page 181 - Show, with its rainbow of blackness — the actors ranged from very dark to extremely fair — had made it possible to cast actors once shunned by white producers as "too white-looking." We took great pride and pleasure in showcasing a full range of looks and modes of being. We gave America a glimpse of the infinite variations of blackness.
Page 180 - We weren't performing rocket science or brain surgery, but we were proving that a television comedy could be more than an elaborate excuse to foist new brands of junk food on the American public. I also had the satisfaction of affecting lives more closely connected to mine — I could provide gainful employment and primetime exposure to my mothers friends.
Page 178 - Our executive producer hired and fired people with such alarming speed and frequency, she should have installed a revolving door at the entrance to the writers' room. I survived by throwing out ideas incessantly and turning in scripts that didn't need much rewriting. Nonetheless, like the other writers and the cast members, I was exhausted and demoralized. While the head writer treated me with respect, it was agony to watch her torment others. "You played that scene like you had PMS!
Page 169 - urban," or "maternal. "Translation: they didn't fit a white producer's image of "typical black womanhood." Whose black home had these television, commercial, or movie producers visited, anyway? my mother and her friends often \vondered. What "typical black women" did they know, other than their housekeepers and the occasional assistant?
Page 179 - Debbie Allen, who had just finished a long stint producing the series Fame. Debbie belonged to a generation of young black Broadway stars who admired my mother and felt grateful to her for opening doors. Like my mother, she refused to accept second-class citizenship and pushed to change the image of people of color.
Page 177 - It was important that I succeed, because if I did, I could create parts for women like them. They had blazed trails as performers; it was my turn to blaze a trail, however small, behind the scenes. We worked twelve- and sixteen-hour days, six and seven days a week in our headquarters, the former Edith Head bungalow on the Universal Pictures lot.
Page 180 - Roscoe played a professor on A Different World. Gloria Foster played a dean. Lena Home honored us by playing herself. I was able to write Aunt Diahann into the show as the mother of our spoiled Southern belle, Whitley Gilbert. We depicted the black bourgeoisie whose existence producers and critics had denied. The...
Page 179 - America, the little-known historv of free blacks who owned slaves, the Los Angeles riots. The network did not always appreciate our forays into social relevance, to say the least. In the case of the AIDS episode, they threatened not to pay our "license fee," that is, to cut off our financial support for the episode.
Page 174 - Show the producers Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey suggested I go and work on the show's spin-off, A Different World, in Los Angeles, my mother was crystal clear: I had no choice but to accept. I, on the other hand, was loath to leave New York and my newfound live-in love, Hugues. My mother gave a rare piece of unsolicited advice. "You must go.

About the author (2004)

Susan Fales-Hill is an award-winning television writer and producer. She has worked on shows ranging from The Cosby Show to A Different World, Linc's, and Suddenly Susan. Her writing has also appeared in Vogue, Town & Country, and Travel & Leisure. She lives in New York City.

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