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Terry McMillan

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Information about Terry McMillan

Profile image of Terry McMillan

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Fiction Writer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange, Purple
Favorite Food:
Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Brazil, Africa, Caribbean, London, England, Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Have you lost your mind?

Birthplace

Born:
10/18/1951
Birth Location:
Port Huron, Michigan

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Fiction Writer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange, Purple
Favorite Food:
Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Brazil, Africa, Caribbean, London, England, Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Have you lost your mind?

Birthplace

Born:
10/18/1951
Birth Location:
Port Huron
See how Terry McMillan is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Popular writer Terry McMillan was born on October 18, 1951, to Madeline Washington Tillman and Edward McMillan. She grew up in Port Huron, Michigan, a city about sixty miles northeast of Detroit. Her parents divorced when McMillan was thirteen and her father died three years later. McMillan's mother supported her family by working nights at a factory.

As a child, McMillan had little interest in literature, but she discovered the joy of reading as a teenager, while working at a library shelving books. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with a B.A. in journalism. At this time, she also immersed herself in African American literature classics. While attending Berkeley, she wrote and published her first short story, "The End." After graduating, she moved to New York to study film at Columbia University.

McMillan's first book, Mama, was published in 1987 after she took control of the book's publicity when the publisher failed to do so. McMillan wrote 3,000 letters to bookstores, Black organizations and universities, asking them to promote her book. This unique marketing approach proved highly successful; McMillan received several offers for book readings and six weeks after Mama was published it went into its third printing.

McMillan continues to find much success as a novelist. Disappearing Acts, her second novel, was published in 1989. Her third novel, Waiting to Exhale, spent months on the New York Times bestseller list and sold nearly four million copies. McMillan's work tapped into a market long ignored by the publishing industry: young, educated Black women. Waiting to Exhale was adapted into a successful film starring Whitney Houston, Angela Basset, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. McMillan followed this accomplishment with the novel How Stella Got Her Groove Back, an instant best-seller, which was made into a hit film starring Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg and Taye Diggs.

Not limiting herself to writing, McMillan served as the editor of Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction. McMillan lives in northern California with her husband, Jonathan Plummer, and son, Solomon. Her most recent novel is entitled A Day Late and a Dollar Short.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Terry McMillan interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Terry McMillan's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Terry McMillan describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Terry McMillan discusses her father's premature death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Terry McMillan reveals her earliest memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Terry McMillan describes her childhood home in Port Huron, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Terry McMillan discusses her early school life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Terry McMillan describes her early maturation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Terry McMillan discusses the violence of her youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Terry McMillan describes being the oldest child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Terry McMillan becomes determined to leave Port Huron, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The 1960s are a consciousness-raising period for Terry McMillan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Terry McMillan's mother was determined to raise five happy and successful children
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Terry McMillan exhales in California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Terry McMillan considers a number of majors at The University of California at Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ishmael Reed influences Terry McMillan's writing career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Terry McMillan finds a supportive literary community in Harlem, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Terry McMillan sees to it that her first novel is published and publicized
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Terry McMillan discusses the success of her novel 'Waiting to Exhale'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Terry McMillan sees her book 'Waiting to Exhale' transformed into a motion picture
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Terry McMillan meets her 'Stella' muse in Jamaica
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Terry McMillan describes life as a single mother
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Terry McMillan discusses her career success
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Terry McMillan evaluates the merits of comtemporary novelists
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Terry McMillan considers problems in the publishing world
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Terry McMillan discusses the power of parenting in the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Terry McMillan and husband, Jonathan Plummer, in Jamaica
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Terry McMillan's mother, Madeline Tillman, poses with writer, Amy Tan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Terry McMillan's mother, Madeline Tillman, poses in a school portrait
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Terry McMillan exhibits a scene from 'How Stella Got her Groove Back,' the film
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Terry McMillan's mother poses for a photograph a week before she passes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Terry McMillan attends an event for the release of her novel 'Waiting to Exhale'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses for a publicity shot
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Terry McMillan takes her first grade school portrait
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Terry McMillan attends the 'Essence' Awards with her son and husband
  • Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses in her kindergarten school photograph
  • Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses while on a book tour in Melbourne, Australia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Terry McMillan takes a photograph for 'Emerge' magazine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses for a photograph
  • Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses for a photograph while pregnant
  • Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Terry McMillan's father, Edward Louis McMillan, poses in his baseball uniform
  • Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses with her cousin, Frida, in Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses with family members in Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Terry McMillan and her three sisters pose for a photograph
  • Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Terry McMillan poses with her family at a Thanksgiving gathering
  • Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Terry McMillan's husband, Jonathan Plummer, poses for a photograph