It’s really happening: the premiere of “With This Ring,” the Lifetime original movie based on “The Vow,” a book I penned with my girls Angela Burt-Murray and Mitzi Miller, is Saturday. I mean, I know it’s real: Angela and I were on the set while the stars of “With This Ring,” Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve, Jason George, Stephen Bishop and Brooklyn Sudano worked to bring our story to life, but it didn’t hit me hard until this past Saturday, when I was watching Lifetime’s “Whitney” biopic and the commercials for “With This Ring” splayed themselves in Technicolor across the flat screen.
Yo, a book I wrote is now a movie. A movie.
I’ve penned 23 books, two of themNew York Times best-selling tomes, one of them the bestselling book of 2009 (“Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”), some of them with celebrities (Steve Harvey, Charlie Wilson, Nene Leakes, Holly Robinson Peete, Jesse Norman), some of them novelizations of big-screen films (“Dreamgirls,” “Sparkle“), some of them created specifically for our babies (the “Hotlanta” teen series, with Mitzi, and “Miss You Mina,” a Scholastic Candy Apple book for tweens), some of them quiet personal triumphs penned with people I love (six books, including the “What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know” relationship series and the novels “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “In Love & War” and “A Love Story,” with my husband, Nick Chiles). Each of them is special to me—all of them victories for showing the very heart of African American love, thought, beauty, friendship, life and art.
But my God, to have one adapted into a film with big-named stars, executive produced by Black movie and TV it-girl Gabrielle Union, Tracey Edmonds and Sheila Ducksworth, and written and directed by Nzingha Stewart—I didn’t see this one coming. Sure, this is every writer’s dream; I know that as a young author, I couldn’t have been happier for Terry McMillan’s book-to-film success with “Waiting To Exhale,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Disappearing Acts,” and imagined what it must have felt like for her to have so many fans locking fingers with their best girlfriends and marching off to the movies together to see and celebrate her stories. I’ve even flirted with a few Hollywood producers looking to turn “Hotlanta,” “A Love Story,” and my first book, “The Sistahs’ Rules” into movies. But my celluloid fantasies were just that—fantasies.
I’m so very grateful to the fab Gabrielle Union, who hosted the first book party for “The Vow,” a juicy book about three BFFs looking for good, strong, lasting love. I’ll never forget this part: we were at DaSilvano in NYC, and Gabrielle hemmed me up in the corner and plied me with questions about “Sean” and one of the women he was juggling. Later, Gabrielle graciously took pictures with me, Angela and Mitzi, and I stood next to the tall, slender, sleek gawdess, whose personality, intellect and beauty was so big, so infectious, that it was quite easy to feel a little small in the midst of all her greatness. But Gabrielle didn’t allow such things; she put her arm around me and encouraged us to smile big, because “The Vow” was an incredible book and she was proud of our story of sisterhood, girl power and love.
I knew she liked the book, but I didn’t know that that special afternoon was just the beginning of her relationship with our story. Ten years later, with her passion for “The Vow” unwavering, Gabrielle is executive producing “With This Ring,” her first project in this capacity. I couldn’t be smiling any bigger knowing that this amazing woman is killing the game on behalf of sisterhood, girl power and love of us, the people. I think she’s pretty badass.
So come Saturday, y’all may have to scrape me off Cloud 9 in time enough to lock hands with Angela at our private #WithThisRing Watch Party. I’m going to try really hard not to ruin my make-up with the waterworks I just know will flow the moment the screen credits start rolling and I see the words, “Based on the novel “The Vow,” by Denene Millner, Angela Burt-Murray and Mitzi Miller.” And I may get extra teary when Jill Scott and Jason George—they portray Vivian and Sean, the characters I created—make their entrance, particularly since I wrote Vivian with Jill in mind and Jason, with his deliciously chocolatey self, is a dead ringer for the man I envisioned Viv would fall for.
If you’re in the room, pass me some tissue. If you’re with your girls in your own “With This Ring” Watch Party, follow the #WithThisRing hashtag and @MyBrownBaby on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and then Tweet your girl. This is a big deal for me, but more importantly, this is a victory for all of us Black girls who get to see a group of Black women—from us, the authors, to the executive producers, to the writer/director to the actresses—celebrate OUR stories.
If you’re hosting a #WithThisRing Watch Party or helping to plan one, check out this #WithThisRing Watch Party Planner I whipped up for the occasion, and show off your “With This Ring” party pics on Twitter and Instagram.
“With This Ring” premieres on Lifetime January 24, 2015 at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. C.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.