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Jennifer Holliday Talks About Surviving Her Suicide Attempt, Issues with Weight and Multiple Sclerosis


Bruce Glikas/FilmMagicJennifer Holliday, currently starring as Shug Avery in the Broadway musical revival of The Color Purple, explains to People that her present-day comeback follows years of strife, including a struggle with depression and a suicide attempt at the age of 30.   

“When I was suffering with depression, people weren’t talking about depression. It had a stigma. Nobody asked me about it,” she said. 

After spending “three healing months in a sanatorium,” Holliday realized that her unstable mental health stemmed from issues with her weight.  

“I had thought I was really ugly. I had just been dropped by my record company because they called me too unattractive and not marketable,” she explained. “My record company dropped me, I can’t get a boyfriend — that’s the reason! I’m too big,” added the vocalist. 

Even following gastric bypass surgery through which she lost 124 pounds, Holliday recalled still not have any friends or steady employment.  

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, eventually causing temporary blindness in her left eye, the recording artist fought her way back to a successful life in the spotlight, using a positive frame of mind. 

“There’s so much great power of our mind that we take for granted, and how we think and what positiveness can do,” Holliday declared.  

“There was some purpose that I didn’t die when I tried to kill myself. So I decided I was going to fight for life.”

Holliday’s run in The Color Purple at New York City’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre ends on January 8. 

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