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Lynn Whitfield of 'Greenleaf' Fame Once Revealed How Her Church Helped Her through Brian Gibson Divorce

Mary Scott
Dec 26, 2019
02:40 A.M.
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Lynn Whitfield once opened up about how a church helped her get through her divorce with her former husband, Brian Gibson. The talented actress also got talking about how the painful experience helps her career.


Whitfield is currently a fan favorite as Lady Mae on the church drama sitcom "Greenleaf," but what many may not know is that personal experiences influence her acting.

Lynn Whitfield at the "Greenleaf" season 3 premiere Q&A session on Aug. 28, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia | Photo: Getty Images


During a 2018 interview with the Chicago Tribune, the Emmy award winner recalled how a church helped her over two decades ago when she was dealing with a tough divorce.

"If a woman does that, she is the b-word. I resist that, and I don't know a human being who isn't flawed. So, I just try to present the truth."

Whitfield, 66, has been married twice. From 1974 to 1978, she was married to the late arts administrator, Vantile Whitfield. She then married director Brian Gibson in 1990, but the marriage only lasted two years.


It was during her divorce from Gibson, who would pass away in 2004, that Whitfield got the support of a church she joined at the time. The actress and the late English director shared a daughter, Grace.

"I had an opportunity in the church that I joined, back 25 years ago or so, to see the very positive part of being a first lady (of a church), how they set the tone of graciousness and the social fabric of it," Whitfield told the Tribune.


She continued:

"I was shepherded through a divorce – from the director of 'The Josephine Baker Story' (Brian Gibson) – it was right at my Cinderella moment of Hollywood, and I was shepherded through by a woman whose name is Mae, too! The church helped me so much. So I saw the great side of it."


Whitfield starred as the title character in "The Josephine Baker Story." The biopic earned her a Primetime Emmy win and a Golden Globe nomination, so her divorce from Gibson must have been devastating.

As it turned out, going through that dark time helped Whitfield discover a newfound appreciation for God, which is what keeps her grounded to this day in her career.


In November 2018, she told the Los Angeles Sentinel:

"I've personally been through a divorce. When I won an Emmy, which was a goal I'd been working years for, [it] was covered with disappointment. There was nothing for me to do but to allow God to takeover."


Thankfully, the dark days are behind her, and Whitfield is more focused than ever on her career. OWN has renewed "Greenleaf" for the fifth season, and fans will get to see the fierce pastor's wife in action again.

Speaking with Channel 24 last year, Whitfield said she enjoys portraying strong female characters because it's her way of telling the truth about these women in society.

Pointing out that men are not usually condemned for having strong opinions or fighting for their kingdom, the "Nappily Ever After" star said it's the other way around for women that dare to speak up.

"If a woman does that, she is the b-word. I resist that, and I don't know a human being who isn't flawed," Whitfield observed. "So, I just try to present the truth."


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