As children, we often see our mothers as one-dimensional. It is sometimes hard to separate them being our parents from their realities as women. Fresh off the heels of Mother’s Day, DeVon Franklin’s new tribute to the Black women in his life may inspire you to look at yours with a fresh perspective.
What is It Takes a Woman about?
This book is one of the most personal, open, honest, transparent books I’ve done. It’s all about how it takes a woman for us to be who we are as men — for us to be where we are as families and as a community. We would be nowhere if it was not for the women in our lives.
With this audiobook that I’m doing through Audible, I wanted to tell how the tragedy of my father was a catalyst for my mother to bring in help from my great aunts to really surround me and my brothers to make sure that we didn’t become a statistic.
We tell our family story. We tell how this tragedy brought everybody together. Then you get more insight on [each aunt’s] and my mom’s story. I really wanted to do this project to celebrate women, honor women, and preserve the voices and the impact women had in our culture and community.
What inspired you to share this story now?
It was from a series of events. Audible had approached me about doing this book, and when they mentioned it, I said, “Yeah, you know, I’d love to tell that story.” I went to my mom and my great aunts that are still alive and asked, “Would you be open to participating in this book?” They were like, “Yeah, well, if you pay us, we’ll do whatever you want.” [Laughs].
So I said, “All right. Let me close the deal with you; you know, put a little something in your pocket.” I did, and they were just so honored to be able to participate and tell their stories. I love it, and I’m just so grateful and excited for people to hear it and grateful for the opportunity to have been able to do it.
You call those ladies your “village of love.” What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from them?
There are so many lessons, which is why I did this book; so that everyone can hear the lessons for themselves. One of the lessons that always has stuck with me that Aunt Donna says is you have to live it to learn it.
So often, you can intellectually think about something or approach it theologically but ultimately there are certain things in this thing called life you’re not going to learn until you live it. I didn’t understand what she meant until I started living life, and I said, “Oh, now I understand you gotta live it to learn it.” That has stuck with me from the day that she mentioned that to this very day.
What new truths did you discover about yourself or your village through this process?
I’ve spent countless hours with [my mom and aunts], yet I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to ask them more about their story, their experience in life, and how they felt about it. Through producing this Audible book, It Takes A Woman, I could hear their stories, ask them questions I never asked before, and hear things that they experienced I didn’t know.
That was really powerful for me to be the recipient of not just the wisdom but the pain and the transparency and the experience they have had. That was really a new revelation for me that there was much more to that they had to offer that I may have never known had I not had the opportunity to do this.
You have a new scripted series coming to BET+. Tell us about Kingdom Business.
Kingdom Business is a new TV series that I am the executive producer of for BET and BET+, producing it alongside the great Kirk Franklin and Dr. Holly Carter. It comes out on BET+ on May 19, 2022. It’s like Empire but set in the world of gospel music, so y’all better watch out!
It leaves no stone unturned in terms of drama. Yolanda Adams stars in it, and let me tell you something; y’all think you know Yolanda. You don’t. The character she plays is Donita Jordan, and Cookie Lyons has nothing on Donita Jordan. We have Serayah in it who’s an amazing rising star.
We have Chaundre, who’s a new actor on the scene. We have Michael Beach and Michael Jai White. La’Myia Good. We have a phenomenal cast. Kirk also plays a role. We have so many people in this series, and I cannot wait for people to see this. It’s eight one-hour episodes all on BET+; you can binge to your heart’s content. I guarantee you will want a season two.
You have the book available on Audible, a television series on BET+, and your latest book, Live Free, was just released in paperback. What’s next?
Movies, TV appearances, and new books. I got a lot coming and as long as I have the opportunity to create and the outlets that allow me to get that creation to the world, I’m gonna keep creating. I’m gonna keep trying to do everything I can to uplift the human spirit. That’s what it’s all about. We are in some difficult times, and I’m crazy enough to believe that content can change lives. I feel the responsibility of being in this position and trying to do something positive with it.
It Takes a Woman is currently available on Audible and Kingdom Business will be available to stream from BET+ on, May 19, 2022.
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Celestial Holmes is passionate about the power of prose, and she uses it to uplift her people for various Afrocentric outlets. She is also a published author, writing under the pseudonym Mbinguni.