Exclusive: Terry McMillan on 'Waiting to Exhale' 20th Anniversary

Terry McMillan looks back at the classic novel's longevity on its anniversary.

Can you believe it has been 20 years since the release of author Terry McMillan’s classic Waiting to Exhale? The novel was released in May 1992 to national acclaim, spent months at the top of the bestseller's list and every Black woman you knew had either read it or was reading it at the time.

A little story about four friends living and dating in Arizona in the late 80s became a cultural phenomenon the industry never saw coming and earned a special place in our hearts. The film adaption of the book was released in 1995 and has since made its way onto most sisters' favorite-film list.

After publishing three more novels, McMillan finally released the long-awaited sequel, Getting to Happy, on September 7, 2010. Many critics deemed it a success and applauded that she stayed true to her characters — and, of course, fans hoped to see the film version. Then, good news came: McMillan confirmed the film sequel.

Production plans were moving full-speed ahead when tragedy struck. Whitney Houston, who played Savannah, suddenly passed away in February. Upon the star's untimely death, the fate of the film was immediately called into question. Will Oprah Winfrey play Whitney? Will Savannah’s character be written out? Will there even be a movie?

We caught up with McMillan, who’s preparing for an appearance at the upcoming Anguilla Literary Festival May 24 through 28th, to see if she could set the record straight, and how she feels about the book on the 20th anniversary of its release.

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