TV One Film ‘The Secret She Kept’ Addresses Minority Mental Health

Based on Best Selling Author ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s Book About A Family Coping With Mental Illness, Network’s Original Movie Starring Kyla Pratt, Gavin Houston, Kellita Smith and Vanessa Williams, Premieres Sunday, July 10 at 7 p.m. ET

By Yolanda Baruch

Jul 10, 2016

Original Article Published on


July is the designated month for the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. TV One is spearheading the movement by presenting NAACP Image Award-winning author ReShonda Tate Billingsley novel in a made for television film, The Secret She Kept, which airs tonight at 7 p.m. ET (encore at 9 p.m. ET).

The film explores the character Tia Jiles a beautiful, high-powered attorney soulfully played by Kyla Pratt (Recovery Road, One on One, The Proud Family, Dr. Doolittle) who has just married the man of her dreams, successful magazine executive Lance Kingston (Gavin Houston, The Haves and the Have Nots, Guiding Light), and is on the brink of launching a major political campaign when a pattern of erratic behavior uncovers her secret: she suffers from both schizoaffective and bipolar disorder. The film immerses viewers in the story of Tia’s prominent family and how they allow shame, confusion, and misunderstandings about mental illness.

D’Angela Proctor, SVP of Original Programming for TV One, astutely stated:

“Mental health is something [the] African-American community traditionally does not talk about. We will go to the hairdresser, the preachers, we will go to our girlfriends, but we rarely take the time to seek out treatment. If one person sees this movie and encourages a family member to go and get help, then this movie would have been worth doing.”

Many members of the African-American community have attributed such issues as being a “white person problem” or that counseling is not needed because the perception of African-Americans as a strong people is a long-held belief carried on by men, women, and child alike.     But considering the times we live in where African-Americans are both brutalized by law enforcement and society as a whole, the films shows that mental illness is not a white or black issue.  Nor is mental illness a sign of weakness but individuals need to seek help when their minds need care, which is the reason actress Kyla Pratt agreed to play the role of Tia Jiles.

“When the project was first brought to me, I was experiencing some things of my own with someone in my family who was suffering mentally.  I wasn’t sure that I was mentally up for the challenge. I wanted to make sure that if I attached myself to something as important as a film like this, I wanted to make sure I gave it justice. I wanted to be a part of something that someone could watch and affect their lives,” said Kyla.

“The Secret She Kept” provides a thought-provoking and inspirational story which addresses how far to go to save a loved one when they’ve kept a dangerous secret for years. Author ReShonda Tate Billingsley understands the stigma attached to having mental illness and felt telling this story would help alleviated the shame that this severe condition carries.



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