Bookshelf | Always Wear Joy by Susan Fales-Hill (2003) | How to be an original diva


In this beautifully-written memoir, Susan Fales-Hill paints a comprehensive portrait of her late mother, the inimitable Haitian-American performer Josephine Premice.

A triple threat, Premice sang, danced, acted, and wowed on the stages of Broadway and Paris in the 1940s and ’50s. However, despite her showstopping presence, Josephine’s career never rose to the heights of her white contemporaries. In an entertainment industry that did not favor her type of beauty, Josephine was always deemed either “too much” or “not enough” of something. In spite of the ever-present adversity she endured, Josephine Premice always faced her challenges and naysayers head on, and she was ever the consummate performer and the epitome of glamour.

When Josephine married a white man from a WASP, blueblood family, she didn’t allow the forces of racism and prejudice to cast a shadow over her marriage. Instead, she and her husband, Timothy Fales, created a loving family that adroitly straddled the two worlds of aristocracy and show business.

In the book, Fales-Hill also covers her own personal history such as the ill-fated romances of her youth, the development of her sense of self, and the challenges she faced as a female, minority television writer in Hollywood, working on groundbreaking shows such as The Cosby Show and A Different World. Fales-Hill writes how she drew strength and inspiration from her mother’s indomitable spirit and courage. Gracefully illustrating the intricate bond that exists between a mother and her daughter, Fales-Hill’s tribute to her mother’s inextinguishable joie de vivre is both touching and inspiring.

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