Waiting to Exhale

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Waiting to Exhale
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Forest Whitaker
Produced by Terry McMillan
Ronald Bass
Deborah Schindler
Ezra Swerdlow
Screenplay byTerry McMillan
Ronald Bass
Based onWaiting for Exhale
by Terry McMillan
Music by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
Cinematography Toyomichi Kurita
Edited by Richard Chew
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 22, 1995 (1995-12-22)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million
Box office$82 million

Waiting to Exhale is a 1995 American romance film directed by Forest Whitaker (in his feature film directorial debut) and starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The film was adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name by Terry McMillan. Lela Rochon, Loretta Devine, Dennis Haysbert, Michael Beach, Gregory Hines, Donald Faison, and Mykelti Williamson rounded out the rest of the cast. The original music score was composed by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. The story centers on four women living in the Phoenix, Arizona area and their relationships with men and one another. All of them are "holding their breath" until the day they can feel comfortable in a committed relationship with a man.

Romance film film genre

Romance films or romance movies are romantic love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on TV that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate romantic involvement of the main characters and the journey that their genuinely strong, true and pure romantic love takes them through dating, courtship or marriage. Romance films make the romantic love story or the search for strong and pure love and romance the main plot focus. Occasionally, romance lovers face obstacles such as finances, physical illness, various forms of discrimination, psychological restraints or family that threaten to break their union of love. As in all quite strong, deep, and close romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations, and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films.

Forest Whitaker American actor

Forest Steven Whitaker III is an American actor, producer, and director who has earned a reputation for intensive character study work for films such as Bird, The Crying Game, Platoon, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Great Debaters, The Butler, and Arrival.

Whitney Houston American singer, actress, model, and record producer

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts—as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know"—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.



Waiting to Exhale is a story about four African-American women who are good friends: Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria. The four women get together frequently to provide support, and to listen to each other vent about life and love. They all want to be in a couple but they all have difficulties finding a good man.

Savannah "'Vannah" Jackson is a successful television producer who believes that one day her married lover will leave his wife for her. She later realizes he will never leave his wife, and that she must find her own man who will love her for who she really is.

Bernadine "Bernie" Harris had abandoned her own career dream of having a catering business -- instead she raised a family and supported her husband, who then announces he is leaving her for a white woman he works with.

Robin Stokes is a high-powered executive, and the long-time mistress of married Russell. She has problems finding someone suitable after she dumps Russell.

Gloria "Glo" Matthews is a beauty salon owner and a single mother. Her ex-husband, who is also the father of her son, tells her he was always bisexual and now realizes he is actually gay. Gloria eventually falls in love with a new neighbor, Marvin King.

The situations all resolve themselves for the better. Savannah ends up dumping her married lover for good. Bernadine gets a large divorce settlement from her ex-husband. She finds love with a widowed father who is a civil rights attorney and who encourages Bernie to pursue her catering dream.

Robin ends up pregnant by her married lover, but dumps him, and chooses to raise the baby on her own.

Gloria learns not to be so overprotective to her son. She lets him go on an "Up With People" trip to Spain. She apologizes to her neighbor for snapping at him when he suggested that she should let her son grow up and experience the world, and she finds love while learning to take care of herself rather than being overly self-sacrificing in her devotion to her son and her business.


Angela Bassett American actress

Angela Evelyn Bassett is an American actress and activist known for her biographical film roles, most notably her performance as Tina Turner in the biopic What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. Bassett has additionally portrayed real life figures Betty Shabazz in both Malcolm X (1992) and Panther (1995), Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992), Voletta Wallace in Notorious (2009) and Coretta Scott King in Betty & Coretta (2013). Her other notable film roles include Reva Styles in Boyz in the Hood (1991), Bernie Harris in Waiting to Exhale (1995), Rachel Constantine in Contact (1997), Lynne Jacobs in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), and Queen Ramonda in Black Panther (2018).

College educational institution

A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education or a secondary school.

Lela Rochon American actress

Lela Rochon is an American actress, best known for her breakthrough role as Robin Stokes in the 1995 romantic drama film Waiting to Exhale. She also had starring roles in films The Chamber (1996), Gang Related (1997), Knock Off (1998), Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998), and Any Given Sunday (1999).


Parts of the film were shot at Monument Valley in Utah as well as Chandler, Fountain Hills, Phoenix and Paradise Valley in Arizona. [3]

Monument Valley Area characterized by distinctive buttes and mesas in the American West

Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona–Utah border, near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.

Utah A state of the United States of America

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Fountain Hills, Arizona Town in Arizona, United States

Fountain Hills is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. Known for its impressive fountain, once the tallest in the world, it borders on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Scottsdale, Arizona. The population is 22,489, as of the 2010 census. Between the 1990 and 2000 censuses it was the eighth-fastest-growing place among cities and towns in Arizona.

Reception and box office

Waiting to Exhale was a financial success, opening at number-one at the North American box office, grossing $14.1 million in its first weekend of release. [4] In total, the film grossed $67.05 million in North America, and $14.4 million internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $81.45 million. [5] Its widest release was in just over 1,400 theatres and was the 26th highest-grossing film of 1995. [5]

Upon release, the film received mixed reviews from critics. Film critic Susan Stark from The Detroit News stated, "For all the pleasure there is in seeing effective, great-looking black women grappling with major life issues on screen, Waiting to Exhale is an uneven piece." [6] Reviewer Liam Lacey from The Daily Globe and Mail wrote of the film, "[It] never escapes the queasy aura of Melrose Place: just another story about naive people with small problems." [7] However, film critic Roger Ebert positively reviewed the film, stating that it is "an escapist fantasy that women in the audience can enjoy by musing, 'I wish I had her problems'—and her car, house, wardrobe, figure and men, even wrong men." [8] The film is notable for having an all-African-American cast. The Los Angeles Times called it a "social phenomenon". [9] The film received a 56% approval rating at review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 27 reviews. [7]

<i>The Detroit News</i> Major newspaper of the Detroit, Michigan area

The Detroit News is one of the two major newspapers in the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan. The paper began in 1873, when it rented space in the rival Detroit Free Press's building. The News absorbed the Detroit Tribune on February 1, 1919, the Detroit Journal on July 21, 1922, and on November 7, 1960, it bought and closed the faltering Detroit Times. However, it retained the Times' building, which it used as a printing plant until 1975, when a new facility opened in Sterling Heights. The Times building was demolished in 1978. The street in downtown Detroit where the Times building once stood is still called "Times Square." The Evening News Association, owner of The News, merged with Gannett in 1985.

<i>The Globe and Mail</i> Canadian newspaper

The Globe and Mail is a Canadian newspaper printed in five cities in western and central Canada. With a weekly readership of 2,018,923 in 2015, it is Canada's most widely read newspaper on weekdays and Saturdays, although it falls slightly behind the Toronto Star in overall weekly circulation because the Star publishes a Sunday edition while the Globe does not. The Globe and Mail is regarded by some as Canada's "newspaper of record".

Roger Ebert American film critic, author, journalist, and TV presenter

Roger Joseph Ebert was an American film critic, historian, journalist, screenwriter, and author. He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

In the book Is Marriage for White People? writer and Stanford Law School professor Ralph Richard Banks states that the film is a perfect example of the problems African-American women have in finding serious relationships. [10]


The soundtrack to the film featured exclusively female African-American artists. The soundtrack included the number-one hit songs "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)", sung by the film's star, Whitney Houston, [11] and "Let It Flow" by Toni Braxton as well as "Not Gon' Cry" by Mary J. Blige, "Sittin' Up in My Room" by Brandy, and "Count on Me" by Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans, all of which reached the top ten of Billboard's Hot 100 chart. [12]


Interviewed in the spring of 2011 on an episode of The Talk , Angela Bassett confirmed that a sequel was in the planning stages, with all the female principals signed on to star, and Whitaker returning to direct. The film would supposedly be based on McMillan's 2010 follow-up novel, Getting to Happy; McMillan was adapting the book to screenplay. [13] As of July 2012, no news has come of the sequel, and after Houston's death in February 2012, it is unknown whether the role of Savannah Jackson will be recast.

In a 2012 interview with blackenterprise.com, screenwriter Michael Elliot said he was writing the script for the sequel "I was hired with Terry McMillian's blessings, it's her baby. These are her characters and [in the sequel] I'm treating the women like they are iconic. It's a pretty big deal and I'm very excited. This is like selling my first script! We're shooting this thing next summer or something but with me, I've yet to actually write the script, I've just started it. It's really hard to say [when the film will be released]."


Related Research Articles

<i>Whats Love Got to Do with It</i> (film) 1993 film by Brian Gibson

What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 American biographical film directed by Brian Gibson, based on the life of American-born singer Tina Turner. It stars Angela Bassett as Tina Turner and Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner.

Terry McMillan American author

Terry McMillan is an American author. Her work is characterized by female protagonists.

Loretta Devine American actress and singer, best known for her roles as Marla Hendricks in Boston Public

Loretta Devine is an American actress and singer, best known for her roles as Marla Hendricks in the Fox drama series Boston Public, and for her recurring role as Adele Webber on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011. She had a role in the series Everybody Hates Chris as Rochelle's mother. In film, Devine appeared in Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher's Wife, Hoodlum, I Am Sam, Urban Legend, What Women Want, Kingdom Come, Crash, Woman Thou Art Loosed, For Colored Girls, This Christmas, First Sunday, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Jumping the Broom. She also played Cynthia Carmichael on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show.

Leon Robinson actor

Leon Preston Robinson , usually credited as simply Leon, is an American actor and singer, who began his professional career as a film actor in the early 1980s. Robinson is best known for his roles as David Ruffin in the TV Movie The Temptations (1998), J.T. Matthews in the 1991 Robert Townsend film, The Five Heartbeats, Derice Bannock in the 1993 film, Cool Runnings, and as Shep in the 1994 basketball drama film, Above the Rim.

Exhale (Shoop Shoop) 1995 single by Whitney Houston

"Exhale " is a song by American recording artist Whitney Houston, featured on the soundtrack for the film Waiting to Exhale. It was released as the lead single from the soundtrack on November 7, 1995, by Arista Records. The song was written and produced by Babyface. A mid-tempo R&B ballad, composed in the key of C major, the song's lyrics speak about growing up and learning to let go. The song garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, many of whom noted Houston's vocal maturity in the song.

Michael Beach American actor

Michael Anthony Beach is an American actor. He has appeared in films Lean on Me (1989), One False Move (1992), Short Cuts (1993), Waiting to Exhale (1995), A Family Thing (1996), and Soul Food (1997). On television, he starred as Monte Parker in the NBC drama series Third Watch from 1999 to 2005.

<i>Waiting to Exhale</i> (soundtrack) 1995 soundtrack album by various artists

Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album is a soundtrack for the film of the same name, released on November 14, 1995 by Arista Records. Written and produced by Babyface, the soundtrack features appearances by some of the biggest names in the industry, including Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, TLC, Brandy, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Patti LaBelle, SWV and Mary J. Blige. The album remained at number one on the US Billboard 200 album chart for five weeks and Top R&B Albums chart for ten weeks, going 7× platinum, on September 4, 1996. It spawned two number-one hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart; "Exhale " and "Let It Flow", and three top-ten hits, "Sittin' Up in My Room", "Not Gon' Cry" and "Count on Me". "Exhale ", "Let It Flow" and "Not Gon' Cry" also topped the R&B hits chart. All songs were written and produced by Babyface, except for "My Funny Valentine". The album also includes songs by lesser-known artists like Shanna and Sonja Marie.

Count On Me (Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans song) song by Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans

"Count on Me" is a duet by American recording artists Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans. It is an uplifting song about leaning on a friend for support when needed. Released in early 1996, the song was the fourth single from the soundtrack album of the motion picture Waiting to Exhale, and the second single by Houston released from that album and its soundtrack. "Count on Me" became Winans's highest-charting single on the US Hot 100, peaking at #8. It was certified gold in the U.S.

Not Gon Cry 1996 single by Mary J. Blige

"Not Gon' Cry" is a 1996 single by American R&B singer Mary J. Blige, from the soundtrack to the film Waiting to Exhale; the song is also featured on Blige's 1997 album, Share My World. The song was written and produced by Babyface and became a major hit for Blige in the US, where it peaked at number one and two on the Billboard's R&B Singles and Hot 100 charts respectively. On the Hot 100, it was one of several songs to be kept from the top by "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which spent sixteen consecutive weeks at the top spot. The single sold 900,000 copies domestically and was certified platinum by the RIAA. Blige received her third Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 39th Grammy Awards in 1997 for the song. Coincidentally, other songs on that were later released as singles from the soundtrack also received nominations in the same category. Blige performed the song at the 39th Grammy Awards telecast.

Sittin Up in My Room single by Brandy

"Sittin' Up in My Room" is a song by American recording artist Brandy Norwood. It was written and produced by Babyface and recorded by Norwood for the soundtrack of the 1995 film Waiting to Exhale, starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The track was one out of five singles the album spawned and reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Norwood's most successful single on that particular chart up to that point. It is of note that the characteristic bass intro is a replica of the famous riff performed by bassist Larry Graham, of Sly and the Family Stone, on their hit "Thank You ", and its remix featuring LL Cool J contains a sample of "Haven't You Heard" by Patrice Rushen.

Why Does It Hurt So Bad single

"Why Does It Hurt So Bad" is a song recorded by American singer Whitney Houston for the 1995 film Waiting to Exhale. It was released on July 7, 1996, by Arista Records as the seventh and final single from the accompanying soundtrack. The song was written and produced solely by Babyface. Musically, it is an R&B ballad, and the lyrics chronicle a lovelorn lament.

<i>Why Did I Get Married Too?</i> 2010 film by Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? is a 2010 American comedy-drama film directed by Tyler Perry and starring Janet Jackson, Tyler Perry, Tasha Smith, Jill Scott, Louis Gossett, Jr., Malik Yoba, Michael Jai White, Sharon Leal, Richard T. Jones, Lamman Rucker, and Cicely Tyson. Produced by Lionsgate and Tyler Perry Studios, it is the sequel to Why Did I Get Married? (2007). The film shares the interactions of four couples who undertake a week-long retreat to improve their relationships.

Getting to Happy is the sequel to Waiting to Exhale by author Terry McMillan. The novel follows the lives of four African-American friends in Phoenix, Arizona in 2005. McMillan decided to write the sequel after her divorce from Jonathan Plummer, the inspiration for How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The book was released in 2010.

<i>Whitney</i> (2015 film) 2015 television film directed by Angela Bassett

Whitney is a 2015 American biographical film directed by Angela Bassett based on American recording artist Whitney Houston and her turbulent marriage to R&B artist Bobby Brown that premiered on Lifetime in North America on January 17, 2015. Whitney received mixed reviews from critics, with praise going to DaCosta's performance as Houston and Bassett's direction of the film but criticism of Escarpeta's casting and the film's accuracy.

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American entertainer Whitney Houston worked in four feature films, one television film, seven television episodes, and appeared in six commercials.


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