Following the success of his 2004 indie debut, “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” Bishop T.D. Jakes returns to the marquee with his second film, “Not Easily Broken.” The movie, based on his best-selling book, chronicles the ups and downs of a married couple (played by Taraji P. Henson and Morris Chestnut). Jakes talks to ESSENCE.com about the secret to a successful marriage, a man’s perspective on love, and exactly when divorce is the only option.
ESSENCE.COM: While you are the senior pastor of The Potter’s House, in Dallas, you are also a very successful New York Times best-selling author with mass appeal. Is this a faith-based film?
BISHOP T.D. JAKES: “Not Easily Broken” is about so much more than faith. It is about life, love and the desperate pursuit of happiness that we all have and how we have to work at being happy. Through Morris Chestnut, who plays Dave, and Taraji P. Henson, who plays Clarice, you feel the range of emotions that married couples sometimes encounter—pain and passion, love and lament. The cast delivered on a wide array of feelings in a very believable way. I have never seen Jenifer Lewis deliver a more passionate and powerful role as the mother of Clarisse.
ESSENCE.COM: This is the second film adapted from one of your best-selling books. Why did you decide to bring this to the silver screen?
JAKES: I decided to make “Not Easily Broken” into a movie because I wanted to share a story of love from a man’s perspective. Because so many Black women of all ages that we see in counseling complain about their men not being verbal about their feelings. I’ve counseled countless men who were grieving over failed relationships, and I wanted to relay the message that men really do want their relationships to work.
ESSENCE.COM: What are your thoughts on the frustration that Blacks have faced in getting their story to the big screen?
JAKES: We have to make the kind of movies that we want to see. My first attempt was a movie that didn’t have the backing of a major Hollywood company, but still got enough attention to draw Sony into a dialogue about telling other stories I had written. This movie is also a good sign that Hollywood is taking another look at the African-American market and starting to realize that we have more than drug deals and gang wars. They are looking at our faith, our families and the resilience with which we have survived.
ESSENCE.COM: The film addresses the complexities of marriage. What lessons do you hope married couples will learn from the film?
JAKES: I want audiences to realize that love is an intimate connection of the mind, body and spirit, and that every decision that each partner makes affects them both and the condition of their relationship. I want to show that even the best relationships hit rocky places and that love and happiness works! At the end of the day, true happiness requires a meeting of the minds and a willingness to change.
ESSENCE.COM: What is your advice to couples who are struggling to keep their marriage together?
JAKES: I encourage people to learn each other’s communication methods and respect each other’s boundaries and needs. As our unions evolve, we evolve, and we must be willing to forgive, compromise and treat each other with respect. While I deeply value the institution of marriage, I do not recommend that a person remains blindly committed in a relationship that is detrimental to one’s safety. Unfortunately, in some cases, divorce is the only solution.