This week (Aug 14), 22 years ago, How Stella Got Her Groove Back was released across the United States. For those who are either too young or simply weren’t paying attention, the film was based on the best-selling novel written by Terry McMillan.
We know Angela Bassett is one of the greatest actresses of all time. The thick layers she kills with sharp Ivy League-bred chops are precisely cut from the strict, straight halls of Yale University.
In 2020, ideas like independence and striking back against chauvinism and misogyny are indicative of the age in which we live, one where such things are much more normalized than they may have been 20 years ago.
At the time of its release, the movie was considered something of a risk. Yes, there were films at the box office around the time where black leads were moving the needle, like Denzel Washington in He Got Game, Eddie Murphy in Dr. Dolittle and Will Smith in Enemy of the State.
But Stella was the only film with a leading black woman, as well as black supporting actresses, that hit the box office that year.
The $20 million budget required to secure an all-star cast that featured Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, and Regina King was doubled by a $40 million profit.
Now, the story of Stella Payne’s Jamaican fling with Winston Shakespeare is a permanent part of American cinematic history.
The younger sister of Waiting to Exhale and the clear predecessor to Girl Trip, How Stella Got Her Groove Back is part of the connective bridge of creativity that took black woman representation from “then” to “now” and into the future.
Angela Bassett continues to add to her film legacy, is considered “The Queen Mother” of Black women in film and continues to win awards, break ground and push the envelope for women of color in major motion pictures.