Proud Mama Lynn Whitfield Praises the Power of Tough Love

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The How to Get Away With Murder star recalled the lengths she went to to push her daughter to study French.

A little tough love is good for the soul, right?

Actress Lynn Whitfield couldn't be prouder of her daughter, up-and-coming actress Grace Gibson. The two spoke about growing to be each other's best friend during yesterday's mother-daughter ESSENCE Empowerment panel, but Whitfield told ESSENCE that tough love was a part of their journey.

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The How to Get Away With Murder star recalled how years ago she found 12-year-old Gibson buried beneath her covers, trying to avoid studying for an upcoming French test.

"She said, 'Don't you see? I can't do it. I'm stupid,'" Whitfield told ESSENCE. "So I took a little soft French book, and I started whacking her with it. I said, 'You will get up and turn the light on and study your French! Now!'"

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And the tough love paid off! Three years later, she said, Gibson approached her, asking permission to study abroad in France, which she did ("Merci, maman!" Gibson added over Whitfield's shoulder). 

"She took my passion for her to do it, and it became her own," Whitfield said. "I had to give way for that growth, and now, it's a beautiful story." 

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