Terry McMillan

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Terry McMillan
McMillan at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival
McMillan at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1951-10-18) October 18, 1951 (age 72)
Port Huron, Michigan, U.S.
OccupationWriter, novelist
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
Notable worksWaiting to Exhale (1992)
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1996)
A Day Late and a Dollar Short (2001)
The Interruption of Everything (2006)
Getting to Happy (2010)
Jonathan Plummer
(m. 1998; div. 2005)
Children1 (son)

Terry McMillan (born October 18, 1951) is an American novelist. Her work centers around the experiences of Black women in the United States.

Early life[edit]

McMillan was born in Port Huron, Michigan. She received a B.A. degree in journalism in 1977 from the University of California, Berkeley. She attended the Master of Fine Arts program in film at Columbia University.[1]


McMillan's first book, Mama, was published in 1987.[2] Unsatisfied with her publisher's limited promotion of Mama, McMillan promoted her own debut novel by writing to thousands of booksellers, particularly African-American bookstores, and the book soon sold out of its initial first hardcover printing of 5,000 copies.[3]

McMillan achieved national attention in 1992 with her third novel, Waiting to Exhale. At the time, it was the second largest paperback book deal in publishing history.[4] The book remained on The New York Times bestseller list for many months and by 1995 it had sold more than three million copies. The novel contributed to a shift in Black popular cultural consciousness and the visibility of a female Black middle-class identity in popular culture. McMillan was credited with having introduced the interior world of Black women professionals in their thirties who are successful, alone, available, and unhappy.[5] In 1995, the novel was adapted into a film of the same title, directed by Forest Whitaker and starring Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon.

In 1998, another of McMillan's novels, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was adapted into a film by the same name starring Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs.

McMillan's novel Disappearing Acts was subsequently produced as a direct-to-cable feature by the same name in 2000, starring Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. In 2014, Lifetime brought McMillan's A Day Late and a Dollar Short to television audiences, starring Whoopi Goldberg and an ensemble cast featuring Ving Rhames, Tichina Arnold, Mekhi Phifer, Anika Noni Rose, and Kimberly Elise. McMillan also wrote The Interruption of Everything (2006) and Getting to Happy (2010), the sequel to Waiting to Exhale.

Personal life[edit]

McMillan married Jonathan Plummer in 1998, who came out as gay during their marriage. In March 2005, she filed for divorce.[6]

On July 13, 2012, she sold her 7,000 square feet home in Danville, California, before moving to Los Angeles, California.

McMillan has one child, a son, Solomon.


  • Mama. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1987. ISBN 978-0-547-52404-7.
  • Disappearing Acts. Penguin Group US. 1989. ISBN 978-1-101-65772-0.
  • (Editor) Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction. Penguin Books. October 1990. ISBN 978-0140116977.
  • Waiting to Exhale. Viking. May 1992. ISBN 978-0-670-83980-3.
    • Waiting to Exhale played an instrumental part in promoting a more honest, reflective representation of contemporary black womanhood and played an instrumental role in creating a dialogue in R&B music that was relatable to black women. Her book discussed the everyday needs as well as the sexual desires and pleasures of women that had largely been missing to that point. Daphne A. Brooks argues in her piece "Its not right but its okay" that McMillan's work informed and influenced the woman-centered R&B movement that has become very popular today. In today's R&B, artists such as SZA, Summer Walker, Jazmine Sullivan, among many others, articulate the experiences of black women, a trend that was jumpstarted by the work of McMillan and the R&B artists who innovated the genre.[7]
  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Viking. 1996. ISBN 978-0451209146.
  • A Day Late and a Dollar Short. Penguin Group US. 2001. ISBN 978-1-101-20938-7.
  • It's OK if You're Clueless: and 23 More Tips for the College Bound. Viking Adult. March 2006. ISBN 978-1419397332.
  • The Interruption of Everything. Penguin Group US. May 2006. ISBN 978-1-101-20981-3.
  • Getting to Happy. Penguin Group US. 2010. ISBN 978-1-101-44294-4.
  • Who Asked You? Viking, September 2013. ISBN 978-0670-78569-8
  • I Almost Forgot About You. Crown, New York. 2016. ISBN 978-1101-9025-78.
  • It's Not All Downhill From Here. Ballantine Books. 2020. ISBN 978-1984-8237-48.


  1. ^ Williams, Andrea (September 17, 2013). "SO WHAT DO YOU DO, TERRY MCMILLAN, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR?". Mediabistro. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  2. ^ Mama, Houghton Mifflin, 1987.
  3. ^ Max, Daniel (August 9, 1992). "McMillan's Millions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "In Black America; Terry McMillan". In Black America. Terry McMillan. KUT Radio. Retrieved March 24, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Brooks, Daphne A. (2003). "It's Not Right But It's Okay". Souls. 5 (1): 32–45. doi:10.1080/1099940390217331. S2CID 219695107.
  6. ^ "ABC News: 'Stella' Inspiration Breaks Silence". ABC News. July 12, 2005. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  7. ^ ""It's Not Right But It's Okay"". Souls. 5 (1): 32–45. March 2003. doi:10.1080/1099940390217331. ISSN 1099-9949. S2CID 219695107.


  • Nishikawa, Kinohi. "Romance Novel." Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey Jr. (eds), The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. pp. 1411–15.

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