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'The Secret She Kept' Addresses Mental Illness

The Secret She Kept - TV One

Have you ever had a secret so big, that it affected your everyday functions, relationships, work and home life?

In TV One's original feature film, 'The Secret She Kept', viewers will immerse in the story of a woman named, Tia Jiles (Kyla Pratt; Recovery Road, One on One, The Proud Family, Dr. Doolittle) who appears to be perfect, but she has a secret that could possibly push her to the edge. She has just married the man of her dreams, successful magazine executive Lance Kingston (Gavin Houston; The Haves and the Have Nots, Guiding Light), and she is on the brink of launching a major political campaign, when a pattern of erratic behavior uncovers her secret; she suffers from mental illness. Tia never revealed to Lance what she and her family have known since she was seventeen — she has an illness called, schizoaffective disorder which transforms her into a raging, violent woman. The symptoms include, but are not limited to hallucinations, depressed episodes, manic periods of high energy and thoughts of suicide.

TV One is shedding light on mental health in the Black community during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month with the premiere of, 'The Secret She Kept', this Sunday, July 10 at 7 p.m. ET (encore at 9 p.m. ET). The film is inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name by NAACP Image Award-winning author ReShonda Tate Billingsley.

Billingsley shared that she wrote, 'The Secret She Kept' because so many black families would rather get treated when our bodies are sick, but not when our minds are sick.

"Like so many African-American families, we do have mental illness in my family, but like so many African-American families, we are not touching it. We are not addressing it. We either lock crazy cousin, June in the backroom, we call them crazy and most of us have these family members that say, 'We need to pray harder, take it to Jesus and He will fix it.' I wanted to destigmatize that. We had a relative that was dying of cancer, and the family got all around him and we did everything we could to help him, but another family member is sick from mental illness and nobody wants to touch it. I wanted to show how we would go get treated when our bodies are sick, but we won't do it when our minds are sick," said Billingsley.

Kyla Pratt did an exceptional job in the film and brought life into her character, Tia. Pratt shared what the process was like and what inspired her to take on this role of portraying a mentally ill character.

"The process was kind of difficult, because when the project was first brought to me, I was experiencing some things of my own with someone in my family who was suffering mentally. I was not sure if I was mentally up for the challenge. I wanted to make sure that if I attached myself to something so important as a film like this, I wanted to make sure I gave it justice. I wanted to do something and be apart of something that someone could watch and it could really affect their life because this is something we really do not talk about and it is overlooked," said Pratt. She also added, "It was shot and it was written for a reason, and I am so happy that I was allowed to be apart of something like this."

The film is powerful, meaningful and is an exploration of the impact of mental illness in families, which is far too often closeted in the African-American community. The film provides thought-provoking and an inspirational story which addresses how far to go to save a loved one when they’ve kept a dangerous secret for years.

To learn more about 'The Secret She Kept' author ReShonda Tate Billingsley, visit her site and Instagram (@ReshondaTateBillingsley). Also, be sure to participate in a nationwide Twitter Party with Billingsley during the movie's premiere on Sunday, July 10, 7-9 p.m. ET using the hashtag #SecretSheKept.

For more information on TV One's 'The Secret She Kept, visit and viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #SecretSheKept and check out the trailer below.

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