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After the success of Waiting to Exhale, studios didn’t hesitate to throw money at anything with Terry McMillan’s name attached to it. For that reason, How Stella Got Her Groove Back was released into theaters in 1998, just two years after the book was written. And the same women who flocked to Waiting went to see Stella. The movie grossed $11 million dollars in three days and went on to earn $37 million at the box office. This story, and the story behind the story, was all over the news but we bet you don’t know these behind the scene secrets of this film.

Angela was really in love when she made this movie

After Bassett was nominated for the Academy Award for her role as Tina Turner, work came pouring in. She was so busy grinding, that she had to plan her wedding to fellow actor, Courtney B. Vance, as she was also filming Stella. The film even interfered with her plans a little bit. The filming date kept getting pushed further and further back, making it difficult for the couple to pick a date. Eventually they chose October 17th, almost a month after she’d started shooting.

Danny Glover was cut from the movie

If you have a keen eye and a great memory, you may remember that Danny Glover had a small role in this film. He was the older man pointing at Stella as she got out of the pool. (Home girl had all the boys, young and old, sniffing around the yard.) Initially though, his role was supposed to be more significant. He was originally cast as the older man who was flirting with Stella during her vacation. But when the movie went through editing, all of Glover’s scenes were cut. Surely, he still got paid though.

Who was the director?

Kevin Rodney Sullivan, who was a child actor first appearing on Sesame Street and in other commercials, stepped behind the cameras for the first time to direct Stella. The movie was so well done, you’d never know this was his first go-around. Sullivan went on to direct other hit movies like Barbershop II in 2004 and Guess Who with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher in 2005.

Bassett refused to appear unclothed in the movie

By now you may have noticed that Angela is a pretty thoughtful person, who’s very particular about the roles she takes. And when she does take a role, you best believe she’s not going to do any and everything to keep it. You know how hot those love scenes were; but the director wanted to take it a step further and have Bassett appear unclothed in some of the love scenes. She wasn’t having it. In an interview with The Daily News, she explained why.

“I know what that’s about,” she says, with a snort. “It’s always the girl who takes her clothes off. We’re the objects. It’s just not necessary.”


But Taye was a little more comfortable about taking his clothes off

After this flick, it seemed like Taye Diggs became every woman’s chocolate fantasy. He was the romantic interest for a while after that, leading one interviewer from AMCTV  to ask him: It always seems like in your movies that you’re taking your clothes off. I’m sure you get asked about that a lot. Is that just part of the characters or do they add it because of your status as a rising sex symbol?

In his response Taye said that it’s a part of the job but not something that’s new to him.

They’ve never added that after I’ve come on to a film. Not one role that I’ve played has been written specifically for me. It’s just been the role of the romantic lead. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are always taking off their shirts. That’s just what you do. You have to have sex and take off your clothes. It has been refreshing that the last four roles that I’ve done have not been so blatantly sexual with me being put on some imaginary pedestal. I keep all my clothes on in House on Haunted Hill, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, and The Way of the Gun.

And here’s a little something extra to throw in your cornflakes. Did you know that Taye Diggs’ name isn’t really Taye? It’s actually Scott. In that same interview, he explained how he got there.

It’s a nickname. All my friends from my past would know me as Scott Diggs. Taye Diggs comes from Scott-taye. When I went to college I liked it because it was so different and I have an infatuation with nicknames.


The Book and Terry McMillan

This story you already know. You already know that Stella was based, at least partially on the relationship Terry found herself in while vacationing in Jamaica. The media ran with this little development and Terry and her new, younger boo were everywhere. Everybody was trying to cover and ever talk about their seemingly fairy-tale romance. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Terry told him that she had to keep some aspects of her relationship private. Very true indeed, considering outlets like Time Magazine were referring to Jonathan Plummer as McMillan’s souvenir. What you might not have known was that at the time Terry met and fell in love with Jonathan, she was dealing with the death of both her mother and best friend, which might explain, at least partially why she was so quick to jump in. Plummer, who came out as a homosexual, thereby ending their relationship, went on to open a dog grooming business and host a web series called No More Down Low. How fitting.

If any good came of this whole situation, McMillan acknowledged that her being stronger, emotionally and mentally, helped her to finish her next novel, A Day Late and A Dollar Short, which is what she stopped working on once her mother passed.


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