Loretta Devine is a Hollywood and Broadway legend. The accomplished actress and singer has been a staple on television, film, and stage for several decades. Her most notable role was as Gloria Matthews in the 1995 black American romance Waiting to Exhale. Loretta recently opened up about her time making the film, her memories of Whitney Houston, and the advice Gregory Hines gave her while filming.
Waiting to Exhale starred Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett and was fellow actor Forest Whitaker’s directorial debut. The film was an adaptation of a 1992 novel of the same name written by Terry McMillan. It featured a classic soundtrack produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and such signature songs as Whitney’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” Toni Braxton’s “Let It Flow,” and Brandy’s “Sitting Up In My Room.”
Speaking with TV One’s Uncensored, Loretta recalls fond memories of filming Waiting to Exhale in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We were in Scottsdale, Arizona, for three months filming this movie. It had such a family feeling to it” Her character Gloria’s character had a love interest in Gregory Hines’ Marvin King, a new neighbor she falls in love with. Loretta and Gregory knew each other from Broadway. “I had worked on Broadway with him, like my second Broadway show, “Coming Uptown.” He was my leading man in that, and we always stayed friends.” Loretta called him a brother and confessed to being happy they kept their relationship platonic because Gregory did not like to work with a woman he’d been intimate with. “It was always a wonderful brother and sister kind of thing.”
On their time filming, she recalled, “Gregory was so wonderful in so many ways. When I did Waiting to Exhale, he was my leading man. And he was the only one that was smart enough, my first day of shooting; he had roses everywhere for me. I always brag on him cause nobody else did that.” Her other fond memory of Gregory was the advice he gave her. “I remember him telling me that as soon as this movie was over, you have to lose all the weight so you could move into the next category. I don’t know what category that was cause I never did lose the weight like he talked about.”
Elsewhere in the sit-down, she recalled her time with leads Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. “Whitney was always singing. You just could not stop her from singing. She was so funny. Angela would stay in character. She was always so proper. she would always enunciate whatever she was saying, and that would always tickle Whitney.” Loretta and Whitney would work together again on Preacher’s Wife and the television Boston Public. She said the film changed her life and sent her to a new level of visibility. “All of a sudden, we were sort of like the most popular people around. People would grab you. I had never been so afraid to go outside.”