Tracee Ellis Ross often bickers with Jenifer Lewis on the ABC hit comedy “Black-ish.” But the two co-stars shared a special moment at “The Best of the ABFF” awards ceremony as Ross presented Lewis with the festival’s coveted Career Achievement Award.
Before handing Lewis the award, Ross reminded the audience of Lewis’ extensive body of work, which includes TV roles on “A Different World,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Girlfriends,” and films such as Sister Act, Poetic Justice, What’s Love Got to Do With It, and Cars. After a short video montage with congratulations from individuals such as Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburn, and other celebrities, Lewis accepted the award and shared how she established herself in Hollywood.
Lewis found it difficult to find steady employment on New York’s Broadway scene and realized that she could no longer wait for an opportunity. She decided to create her own opportunity by writing, directing, and starring in her own one-woman stage play titled, The Diva Is Dismissed. The off-Broadway production allowed her to prove her talents as an actress.
But while she began finding more work in TV and film, she was also suffering on the inside. Lewis revealed that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she had to come to terms with the mental illness. She decided to seek help and never allowed her disorder to deter her from goals.
“That journey I took has given me the permission to help others,” Lewis said. “That’s what my life is about now, helping others. I help people wherever and whenever I can. Just don’t ask me for no money [laughs]!”