Terry McMillan announces ‘Waiting To Exhale’ will become TV series

Tonya Pendleton
·3 min read

Terry McMillian, the author of the groundbreaking 90s book ‘Waiting to Exhale’ that became a top-grossing film, shared the news on social media

Fans of the 1995 movie Waiting to Exhale based on the best-selling Terry McMillan book are rejoicing today after the author announced that the beloved work would now be a TV series.

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“So, WAITING TO EXHALE is going to be a TV series,” McMillan posted Thursday. “Produced by Lee Daniels. Attica Locke and Tembi Locke are writing. Anthony Hemingway will direct. I lucked out.”

The 1995 movie directed by Forest Whitaker starred Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon and Whitney Houston, and included appearances by Dennis Haysbert, the late dancer/actor Gregory Hines, Wire alum Wendell Pierce, Micheal Beach, and Wesley Snipes. Based on the 1992 book of the same title, it showcased the love lives of four affluent Black women in Phoenix, Arizona and the various scenarios they encountered while looking for, losing, and finding love.

Angela Bassett as Bernadine in ‘Waiting To Exhale’
Angela Bassett as Bernadine in ‘Waiting To Exhale’

In the 90s when the book was released the themes were controversial and McMillan was accused of promoting stereotypes of Black women and men. But the book, McMillan’s second novel, was a New York Times bestseller that sold over three million copies and put not just her, but contemporary Black fiction, on the map.

The film grossed over $80M at the box office and its Grammy-winning soundtrack, produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds featuring Houston’s hit “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” sold over 12 million copies. It was Houston’s second #1 hit from a soundtrack after The Bodyguard.

Though McMillan didn’t announce any further details, or even what network it will air on, it appears she’s jubilant given the talent that has already signed on to do the series.

Daniels is, of course, an award-winning filmmaker and producer, most recently with Fox’s Empire. Attica Locke is an author and screenwriter who has written four novels in the crime genre and was a writer and producer on Empire, Little Fires Everywhere and When They See Us. Her sister Tembi Locke is a writer and actress who most recently played Dr. Grace Monroe on the Syfy series Eureka. Hemingway directed the feature film Red Tails and has been directing film and TV for over two decades working on shows like True Blood, The Wire and American Crime Story.

Terry McMillan Waiting to Exhale author thegrio.com
Author Terry McMillan speaks onstage at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2016 Essence Festival)

None of the main actresses from the original film have made any announcements about their involvement or lack thereof, though it’s possible they may be worked in some way or the series will take up the same themes with a new group of actresses.

According to Cheatsheet, a sequel was in the works at one time with Whitaker slated to direct it. But Houston’s 2012 death stalled the project and McMillan told Sister2Sister magazine in 2015 that she didn’t see it continuing without her.

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“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I really don’t,” she told the publication. “It’s been horrible since Whitney [Houston] passed away for a whole lot of reasons. Fox wanted to basically eliminate that character altogether from the story. How they thought that was going to work, I don’t know.”

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