The Secret She Kept (2016) A successful attorney is on the brink of launching her political career when she begins to struggle, publicly and privately, with mental illness: she suffers from both schizoaffective and bipolar disorder.
Actor: Kyla Pratt, Gavin Houston, Kellita Smith
Director: Alton Glass
Country: United States
Duration: 90 min
*July is the designated month for the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. TV One is spearheading the movement by presenting NAACP Image Award-winning author ReShonda Tate Billingsley novel in a made for television film, The Secret She Kept, which airs tonight at 7 p.m. ET (encore at 9 p.m. ET).
The film explores the character Tia Jiles a beautiful, high-powered attorney soulfully played by Kyla Pratt (Recovery Road, One on One, The Proud Family, Dr. Doolittle) who has just married the man of her dreams, successful magazine executive Lance Kingston (Gavin Houston, The Haves and the Have Nots, Guiding Light), and is on the brink of launching a major political campaign when a pattern of erratic behavior uncovers her secret: she suffers from both schizoaffective and bipolar disorder. The film immerses viewers in the story of Tia’s prominent family and how they allow shame, confusion, and misunderstandings about mental illness.
D’Angela Proctor, SVP of Original Programming for TV One, astutely stated:
“Mental health is something [the] African-American community traditionally does not talk about. We will go to the hairdresser, the preachers, we will go to our girlfriends, but we rarely take the time to seek out treatment. If one person sees this movie and encourages a family member to go and get help, then this movie would have been worth doing.”
Many members of the African-American community have attributed such issues as being a “white person problem” or that counseling is not needed because the perception of African-Americans as a strong people is a long-held belief carried on by men, women, and child alike. But considering the times we live in where African-Americans are both brutalized by law enforcement and society as a whole, the films shows that mental illness is not a white or black issue. Nor is mental illness a sign of weakness but individuals need to seek help when their minds need care, which is the reason actress Kyla Pratt agreed to play the role of Tia Jiles.
“When the project was first brought to me, I was experiencing some things of my own with someone in my family who was suffering mentally. I wasn’t sure that I was mentally up for the challenge. I wanted to make sure that if I attached myself to something as important as a film like this, I wanted to make sure I gave it justice. I wanted to be a part of something that someone could watch and affect their lives,” said Kyla.
“The Secret She Kept” provides a thought-provoking and inspirational story which addresses how far to go to save a loved one when they’ve kept a dangerous secret for years. Author ReShonda Tate Billingsley understands the stigma attached to having mental illness and felt telling this story would help alleviated the shame that this severe condition carries.
“So often, we trivialize that someone is just ‘crazy’ and we don’t recognize that mental illness is real and relevant. I wanted to show not only was this something that deserved our attention but that we shouldn’t be ashamed to seek help. If our bodies are sick, we get help. I wanted to de-stigmatize the shame that often keeps us from seeking treatment when our minds are sick,” said Billingsley. “I am grateful The Secret She Kept has been turned into a movie. While the book did exceptionally well, the platform TV One provides will hopefully get more people talking about what so many people see as a dirty little secret.”
The Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July) was announced in May 2008 by the U.S. House of Representatives to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD) and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, to also improve access to mental health treatment and services, and promote public awareness of mental illness. More information is available on the National Alliance of Mental Illness website.
To learn more about “The Secret She Kept” author ReShonda Tate Billingsley, visitwww.reshondatatebillingsley.com/, Facebook, Twitter, (@ReShondaT) and Instagram (@ReshondaTateBillingsley). In addition, viewers are encouraged to participate in a nationwide Twitter Party with Billingsley during the movie’s premiere on Sunday, July 10, 7-9 p.m. ET using the hashtag #SecretSheKept.
For more information about TV One’s “The Secret She Kept,” visit the network’s companion website atwww.tvone.tv. TV One viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #SecretSheKept and catch clips and promos on TV One’s YouTube Channel.