The Fall and Rise of Jenifer

“I didn’t marry, Robin.  And I didn’t give birth to children. 
I married Nature.  Nature’s my husband!”
Jenifer Lewis tells ABC’s Robin Roberts about her near-death experience in Africa.

Many people think that since I write this type of column, I can’t keep a secret.  Of course, being able to keep a secret is precisely why I’m still doing this after almost three decades.  A perfect example was when Jenifer Lewis went public last week regarding her near-death experience deep in the heart of the Serengeti.  For those who missed it, the Black-ish star took a harrowing 10-foot tumble off the balcony of her hotel in Tanzania and was almost mounted by a herd of cape buffalos – admittedly, something a few of my readers might enjoy.  That she was able to keep details secret – complete with being carted away by Maasai warriors, airlifted out of the country by Doctors Without Borders, enduring a nine-hour surgery in Nairobi, three blood transfusions, and six days in ICU – is not the most remarkable part of the story.  That I have kept my mouth shut for over two years – well, that’s something!  I wouldn’t do that for just anyone.  My brave, strong, talented friend Jenny might have fallen.  But she got up!  You can watch the full interview here.


It’s an old showbiz joke.  Jenifer Lewis occasionally uses it in her shows.  She’ll get a standing ovation, and then point to an imaginary person in the back row.  “Why aren’t you getting up?  I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair – GET UP!”  Well, that always gets a laugh.  But it was no laughing matter when Madonna – not a laugh riot under the best of circumstances – chastised someone in the front row of her Vancouver concert last month.  “What are you doing sitting down over there?”  Madonna had a spotlight put on Vanessa Gorman, who happened to be in a bright pink wheelchair.  “Oh, okay.  Politically incorrect.  Sorry about that.  I’m glad you’re here,” backtracked the Material Girl.  Vanessa happens to be a paraplegic.  She recently responded to all of the criticism Madonna got over the issues.  “Some people are in wheelchairs and can stand.  She had no idea I was paralyzed.”

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