Telling it all (but not really): My Thoughts on Celebrity Memoirs

I recently read two celebrity memoirs that were decent, but didn’t make me squeal with joy. They are Unbreak My Heart by Toni Braxton and Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland.


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In both, each woman gave an account of her rise to stardom from not necessarily stellar beginnings: Braxton from a religious family of eight in Maryland, and Copeland from a fractured background in both Missouri and California. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few decades, Toni Braxton is a platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning singer best known for the hits “Unbreak My Heart”, “He Wasn’t Man Enough”, and “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” (the latter from the Boomerang soundtrack). Misty Copeland is a professional ballerina who is the first black soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in over 20 years.

Copeland’s memoir was more comprehensive, getting into her unconventional (and yes, unlikely) path to being not just a soloist at ABT, but a ballerina, period. Braxton’s autobiography, however, was not much of a revelation. I blame this due to the popularity of her reality show with her sisters, Braxton Family Values. Over the course of the show’s three seasons, Braxton has divulged most of the details that are in her memoir, so reading it was rather anticlimactic. The memoir served more for providing clarity on what she shared in the TV show, than learning anything truly new.

In both books, there seemed to be a lack of a ghostwriter (or if there were ghostwriters, not very good ones). In a way, that’s good, as each author seems smart and capable enough to pen a book on her own, without significant help. The downside is that the books don’t flow as smoothly as they should; this is especially true of Copeland’s book, which jumped back and forth between the time periods in her life; this may work in a spoken conversation, but it doesn’t translate well in a written fashion.

I was bummed because I was expecting more of…something from these books, especially because I was so looking forward to reading them.  Perhaps this is a result of this age of reality TV and social media (over)saturation: the wanting of more, more, more and everything, everything, everything from celebrities. Indeed, I came away from the books knowing more about Copeland’s life, but it was a more superficial knowledge. This is understandable, given that celebrities deserve privacy too (though privacy is the antithesis of being a celebrity). Still, I wanted to learn more about Misty Copeland on a deeper level, and the book was so heavy on her world of ballet that I didn’t get that. With Braxton, I am a fan of Braxton Family Values (or I was for the first two seasons; I’m not digging season 3), so I was hoping to see more behind the curtain of Toni Braxton that was not revealed on the show. Alas, I was disappointed.

I still would suggest the books for anyone to read, and maybe I’m just strange for wanting a deeper connection with the words I read on a page. However, if you’re looking for an old-school style of biography, it’s best to look elsewhere. Thanks for stopping by.






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