Actor Jenifer Lewis starred alongside actor/singer Whitney Houston in The Preacher’s Wife and shared that she knew Houston still struggled with substance abuse while working on the film.
Lewis said there will never be anyone like Houston and needed to take an emotional pause while remembering her loving friendship with the singer.
Jenifer Lewis recalled the last time she heard from Whitney Houston
Lewis choked up while recalling the last time she heard Houston’s voice. While working on the 1996 film, Jenifer Lewis said Whitney Houston was clearly struggling with addiction. “She eventually went on Oprah and said she was using during that time. I noticed something. This is in my first book, ‘The Mother of Black Hollywood’. I noticed something and she just wasn’t ready at that time to go and get help,” she said during a recent appearance on the Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen After Show.
She continued and became emotional thinking about the last time she heard from Houston. “But the last time I heard Whitney’s voice,” Lewis paused and sighed. “She was on her way to a rehab and she called. She said, ‘I’m going to do it this time, Mama. I’m going to do it.’ Never heard from her again.”
There will never be another Whitney Houston
The last time Lewis heard from Houston was right before she was preparing to perform in Waiting to Exhale 2. “She was going to get herself together,” Lewis recalled. “You know, I got to say this to you, Whitney’s voice. Her instrument was the eighth wonder of the world. And I wish that we all could have done more. But you cannot help a person who’s not ready to be helped.”
But she paused to recall Houston’s voice and how transformative it truly was. “Oh, honey, imagine sitting in a church in Yonkers and watching her sing the genre of music that she came from,” Lewis said breaking out into song. “I was like this [looking stunned].”
Adding, “Oh honey … Whitney Houston. There will never be another!”
Whitney Houston was no diva … Jenifer Lewis said she was the diva
While Lewis was in awe of Houston’s talent, she still mothered her. And she remembered the one moment when Houston was late on set. “Whitney was not a diva,” she recalled. “She was late once. And they had to tease my hair up and it was so cold. It was a record-breaking blizzard that year in New York. And it was so cold for them to have to change my hair.”
“So I called her and I said, ‘Ah, ah little girl! This ain’t no concert mama! This is teamwork. You have to call if you are gonna be late,'” Lewis recalled telling Houston. “She was like [stammering], ‘Mama, I couldn’t get out of the garage, mama.’ Because it was a blizzard and she couldn’t get out.”
Lewis said she called Houston out from a place of love because she was like a mother to many of the young actors she worked with. Co-guest actor Oliver Hudson asked who in her career was a diva. She hilariously answered, “No! That was me talking to me! I was the diva!” Adding that she was never late to the set, “But I would throw a chair.”