Singer and actress Jennifer Holliday is back. The Houston native who is most known for her role as Effie White in the original Broadway production of Dream Girls, has returned to Broadway after fifteen years in the new production of The Color Purple as the infamous character Shug Avery. Recently, Jennifer opened up about overcoming depression, body issues and temporary blindness to return to the stage. Check out a few expects from the interview below.
On suffering with depression:
When I was suffering with depression, people weren’t talking about depression, it had a stigma. Nobody asked me about it. No one ever said, ‘Do you want to talk to somebody? I knew I was terribly sad, but I didn’t know why.
On her weight struggles:
I had thought I was really ugly. I had just been dropped by my record company because they called me too unattractive and not marketable. They were like, ‘We can’t make a music video of you. That’s the reason for my problems. My record company dropped me, I can’t get a boyfriend — that’s the reason! I’m too big.
On life after her gastric bypass surgery:
Nobody wanted me small. They only wanted the old Jennifer Holliday. They were uncomfortable with my new look, my new attitude — everything. It was a very hard time for me for about three years. I had no work and no friends.
On her new body:
I didn’t fall for that trick, I like the way I looked and I have stayed that way. I wasn’t going to believe everyone else because they lied when I was overweight!
On fighting multiple sclerosis:
For a long time they thought I had lupus, then they thought I had something else. Finally, when I couldn’t walk, they did a spinal tap and conclusively diagnosed me with M.S. The process was painful. Sore joints and muscular pains took away my ability to walk and function.
One day in 2007, I felt an overwhelmingly sharp pain, as if someone had taken a knife to my eye. I ended up going completely blind in her left eye. I had to go the New York Eye Infirmary, and I told my neurologist, ‘Fortunately, there are a lot of blind singers. There was no discoloration in the eye, so I’m not concerned about seeing out of it as long as I can sing.’
On how she keeps fighting for her health positively:
I really tried to fight to stay more positive, If your mind is not willing, everything will go. There’s so much great power of our mind that we take for granted, and how we think and what positiveness can do. There was some purpose that I didn’t die when I tried to kill myself. So I decided I was going to fight for life.
On her comeback:
It was a very long, hard journey, but now, I do think that I’m ready to come back. And maybe these opportunities will be better than what I thought I missed. But I’ve grabbed it. And I’m not going to let it go.