Successful, Black and Lonely — D.C. Author’s Tale of Young Black Women’s Loneliness Catches Hollywood’s Ear
Helena Andrews, author of “Bitch is the New Black,” talks about her collection of essays that provide a satirical look at successful young black women living in Washington. She’s 29, single, living in D.C., and might be the star of a black “Sex and the City” — stylish, beautiful and a writer desperately in search of love in the city.
Andrews’s life appears charmed: The film rights for her memoir, “Bitch Is the New Black,” a satirical look at successful young black women living in Washington, were purchased before the book was finished. Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” is set to produce the film and Andrews will write the screenplay.
When Andrews pitched the book, she described it as part “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” part “Sex and the City.” The book is to be published in June by Harper Collins.
“What I am trying to say about single black women in any urban environment is, you don’t know them as well as you think you do. They may not know themselves as well as they think they do,” Andrews says, seated at a table with a white tablecloth in a restaurant on U Street. Her appearance is flawless: She is wearing an ivory blazer and skinny jeans, her movie-star eyes glisten with shadow and her hair is cut in a fresh bob. Perfect. Image is everything. And it means nothing.
“The book was a time for me to step back and reflect,” to capture the internal dialogue and the dialogue with girlfriends who are “caught in a quarter-life crisis.” She is not talking about all young black women, but some. Revealing a story not oft told.
A lot of black women put up an exterior that says: “Everything is together. ‘I’m fine. Perfect. Don’t worry about me. Keep it moving.’ That is the trend,” Andrews says. “Put on new stilettos. Put on a mask of bitchiness.” But that image — prevalent in both the media and the workplace, Andrews believes — is one-dimensional.
“When people think about black women, they have only one adjective for us, which is ‘strong,’ ” Andrews says. “The girl you see walking down the street looks like she has it all together,” but she may not.
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