Before they were stars Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Issa Rae (Insecure) along with a host of other celebs were just people with big dreams and the drive to match.
I've always been curious about what it is really like to be a celeb: how they got to where they are today and honestly, just more about them as a person. And what's the best way to learn all of this? In my opinion, from the sources' mouths themselves!
So many celebs have written books and memoirs all about how they rose to Hollywood fame ― and like the book lover I am, I've snagged them all. There's an invisible bubble surrounding actresses, writers, etc. sometimes that can make them feel so far away from us everyday folks, but when I pick up these books I instantly feel connected to the celebs.
When reading I can identify with their struggles of not being enough in high school, as well with the questionable choices they made with men over the years. Most of all, I can relate to wanting something so bad and not always having people around you who understand your dream. Or that support it.
If you feel this way too and/or are just looking for your next great read, here are seven amazing celeb memoirs/essay books to curl up with now.
1. The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish
“I think that’s the very first time I had an orgasm. I’m pretty sure I had one onstage. Then I didn’t know what it was. I just started trembling and freaking out and getting sweats and tingling. Man, I was so happy.” ― Tiffany Haddish
If you thought Tiffany Haddish was hilarious as Dina in Girls Trip, then you'll love her book. It's all about her incredibly humble beginnings growing up in South Central Los Angeles, CA. Similar to how she works today, Tiffany survived growing up by making people laugh ― and when she did they let her copy their homework. Every personal essay I read left me laughing, crying, feeling inspired by her hustle or a combination of all three. One of my favorite essays: her story about Roscoe. Trust you'll die when you read it.
2. We're Going To Need More Wine, by Gabrielle union
"You were fly, dope, and amazing from birth,’ I would tell that girl now. ‘From the second you took your first breath, you were worthwhile and valid. And I'm sorry you had to wait so long to learn that for yourself.'” ― Gabrielle Union
Let me just start off by saying that Gabrielle Union has always been my best friend in my head. Ever since I saw her She's All That and Bring it On, I've been in awe of her down-to-earth personality, ageless skin, and undeniable talent. So when I learned that she was releasing a book I literally jumped up from my desk. And let me just tell you that it didn't disappoint! In a moving collection of thought-provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, my BFF shares stories about her childhood, power, race, her rise to fame and more. Here's more about why I loved it.
3. The Mother of Black Hollywood, by Jenifer Lewis
“I’ve learned in life that what you give to others is what provides the most value to your life. There I was, a mess myself, yet I still had something to offer that would have an effect on another person’s world.” ― Jenifer Lewis
If you don't laugh every time Jenifer Lewis shows up on screen then you just don't have a sense of humor. The title for her book is completely fitting given she has literally played every single person in Hollywood's mother at some point or another. The Mother of Black Hollywood takes a deep dive into the personal and professional life of one of Tinsel Town's living legends, which includes a sex addiction, her bipolar disorder and 17-plus years of therapy to overcome it all. If you're looking for a no holds barred book that's incredibly real and inspiring, then this is the one for you.
4.This Is Just My Face: Try not to stare, by Gabourey Sidibe
“Don’t let anyone else take away your joy. If they don’t want to be with you or around you, let them go. Pick up your shit and keep going. You came into the world by yourself, and the next person’s lungs don’t help you breathe.” ― Gabourey Sidibe
Don't we all have that friend who's funny, unfiltered and incredibly full of confidence? If not, let me introduce you to Gabby, who can most definitely be that friend to you. With an incredible amount of relatability weaved in between her words, Gabby tells the story of her life growing up in New York, her first job as a phone sex “talker" and her unconventional rise to Hollywood fame in the 2009 critically-acclaimed movie Precious.
5. Year of Yes: how To Dance It Out , Stand in the sun and be your own person, by Shonda Rhimes
“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” ― Shonda Rhimes
Confession: I pick up this book at least once every few months. Shonda is like a mentor in my head and this memoir/self-help book is a sneak peek into her brain. Like most introverts, Shonda used to say no to everything. Well, that is until her sister called her out on it and from there, the writer/producer made it her mission to say "yes" to everything for a year; yes to the things that scared her, required her to leave her house and step outside the comfort zone she'd created for herself. As someone who definitely likes keeping a low-key, solo, minimal social interaction routine, I can definitely relate. But if there's one thing Shonda taught me in this book it's that the people who make the greatest impact in the world don't just sit around and dream, they do.
6. Around The Way Girl, by Taraji p. henson
"No matter how often you fall from grace, what matters most is how many times you get up.” ― Taraji P. Henson
Hands down, Taraji P. Henson may just be one of the most versatile actresses around. Literally, every role she takes brings something new to the table, although in each and every one she brings the same Taraji spirit and intensity. That same thunder comes to light in her memoir all about her journey from DC to Howard University to Hollywood, while also sharing the joy of living her own personal truth. And trust, the title says it all: this book is so authentic, Taraji will feel like a homegirl you've known all your life.
7. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
“It all made sense: my shyness, all the times I was dismissed for not being “black enough,” my desire to reframe the images of black film and television, which I started to do when I created a series in college called Dorm Diaries, my inability to dance—these were all symptoms of my Awkward Blackness.” ― Issa Rae
Out of the books on this list, this was the first one I picked up and is arguably my favorite. When I found it in 2015, I'll be entirely honest: I had no clue who Issa Rae was or what Awkward Black Girl was. But let me tell you, once I got done reading this book, I watched it all. Black women have a tendency to always appear flawless, strong, confident and when it comes to me, this couldn't be further from the truth. I'm awkward as hell and after discovering this book, I realized that I'm not the only one. In this New York Times Bestseller, everyone's fave humorously discusses the daily struggle of being an introvert: from the perils of eating out alone to navigating the workplace to public displays of affection and learning to accept yourself throughout it all. Check it out, you might even discover that there's a little awkwardness in all of us.
Have you read any of these memoirs or plan to? Let me hear in the comments!