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Press Release for Tuesday, February 2, 2016

‘Waiting to Exhale’ Author Terry McMillan Speaks at Annual MLK Scholarship Luncheon

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

Terry McMillan, the best-selling author of “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” will be the guest speaker at the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon at noon Thursday, Feb. 18, in the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044, on the University of North Florida campus. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. McMillan will discuss “Speaking from the Heart.”

McMillan was introduced to literature while shelving books at her local library in Port Huron, Mich., where she grew up. Here she was inspired by the iconic African-American novelist James Baldwin, a milestone moment that introduced her to the possibility that she could write books too.

She graduated from UC-Berkeley and relocated to New York City, where she worked on her fiction with the New Renaissance Writers’ Guild. The supportive feedback she got from the Guild motivated her to expand her short story “Mama,” which would became her break-out novel. She won the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction Award in 1986 for this book as well as an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1987.

McMillan’s second novel, “Disappearing Acts,” received critical acclaim, selling more than two million copies after its release in 1989. “Waiting to Exhale,” her third novel, was written during McMillan’s tenure as a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The hardcover release spent more than 38 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List and Forest Whitaker’s film sold out millions of theatres, winning seven Grammy Awards and an MTV Movie Award, among others.

In 1995, her Jamaican vacation inspired her fourth novel, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” A departure from her prior work, the stream-of-consciousness fantasy was completed in the 30 days after she returned home. This manuscript was met with critical acclaim, debuting at No. 1 on The New York Times Bestseller List, where it would stay for weeks. By January of 1999, McMillan’s second screenplay, co-written with Ron Bass, appeared on the big screen to sold-out audiences. Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan also brought “Disappearing Acts” to HBO.

McMillan has gone on to write several more novels, including “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Bestseller List and also won both a NAACP Image Award and an Essence Award, “It’s Okay If You’re Clueless,” “23 More Tips for the College Bound,” “The Interruption of Everything,” and her most recent book, “Who Asked You?”

Tickets for the luncheon are $30 for individuals, $500, supporter-level corporate tables; $1,000, silver-level corporate tables; $2,500, gold-level corporate tables; and $5,000, platinum-corporate tables.

Tickets for the event, sponsored by the UNF Intercultural Center for PEACE, can be purchased through the UNF Ticket Box Office, located in Lassiter Hall, Building 8, Room 1100, by calling (904) 620-2878 or online at

For more information about this event, contact UNF’s Intercultural Center for PEACE at (904) 620-2475. Individuals who require reasonable accommodations in order to participate must notify the Center at least five working days prior to the event.

The Intercultural Center for PEACE at UNF promotes student learning, development, and support through purposeful programming with different cultural groups and departments on campus. The Center strives to bridge the cultural divide between all individuals at the University as well as the local community to enhance multicultural sensitivity and strengthen cultural competence.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.