When Angela Burt-Murray, Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller wrote their novel, The Vow in 2005 they knew they were on to something great.
Ten years later, the world will get to see their vision translated onto the small screen in Lifetime’s upcoming film With This Ring.
The book —and film— is all about women and much of that theme stems from real life in more ways than one.
The authors were able to work together to create an incredible story while getting the movie made was another labor of love shared between executive producers Gabrielle Union, Tracey Edmonds, Sheila Ducksworth and screenwriter and director, Nzingha Stewart.
CocoaFab: How did The Vow come about?
Angela: I think we wanted to write something at the time that we felt people would identify with. When we released the book ten years ago it was the height of the chick-lit phenomenon. We didn’t see any that were told from an African American perspective and we thought there was an opportunity to speak to an audience who wanted to see themselves reflected in the pages. We always felt in our hearts that it was meant to be a movie.
CocoaFab: How did The Vow make the journey from best-selling novel to a feature film?
Denene: It seems quick but it has been in the works since 2008. To see it happening all these years later is just surreal.
Mitzi: Gabrielle has never given up and Nzingha came onboard and turned it into a screenplay. She kept her word and she pushed our story through and now it’s finally being told. It’s like a circle. It feels like an absolute dream come true. It’s just one of those things where it’s a vision realized and when those things happen you just feel so incredibly blessed.
CocoaFab: Was it hard to put your project in other people’s hands?
Denene: There’s a powerful, beautiful team of black women who ushered this through every step of the process. Each of them have similar sensibilities to me, Mitzi and Angela in terms of portraying black women and being truthful in our storytelling and presenting us in a light that honors us in every way out of our truth. It never once crossed my mind that they wouldn’t get it right because the team that put it together was just phenomenal.
CocoaFab: How did you develop your characters? How did you identify with them?
Angela: At the time I was working as a journalist at Honey Magazine and I was in that celebrity world and I had contacts with a lot of agents and managers and publicists and I always found that world to be quite interesting. I built the character of Trista out of dealing with those sorts of people and wanting to create this character who is very driven about her career but who is also maybe neglecting another aspect of her life.
Denene: Viviane is my character. The way that I wrote her is she was supposed to be every woman. A single mom who built a really nice life for herself and her child. I have never been a single mom but I’m a mother and a woman and I know what it means to put so many other needs in front of your own and how that translates. Between that and the fact that she was an entertainment reporter like I was, I brought a little piece of who I am in creating this character.
When I wrote her I envisioned Jill Scott. Thats’ the weirdest thing on the planet and it’s funny how the universe works.
CocoaFab: How did the three of you work together to create such a cohesive story? Did the process test your friendship?
Denene: Those are my girls. There’s nothing that we can’t tell one another. There is a tight friendship there that has just gone on for so long. We never write together in the same room because we can never get a damn thing done. We end up laughing and talking and acting a fool. The majority of the work got done over the internet with each of us going to our own corners and writing those chapters and e-mailing them to each other and looking at it from three, separate, critical lenses…It was a piece of cake.
Mitzi: All three of us are writers and editors so we understood that all we could do is make each other better so there wasn’t ego involved. I think we all had personal and professional respect for each other so it was a seamless process.
CocoaFab: The Vow is full of steamy sex scenes. What was it like to write them?
Denene: The problem is I don’t like writing sex scene AT ALL. But they were insistent that Viv has a sex life. In the movie, she’s dealing with one guy but in the book she has two guys and she’s deciding between them. It was very uncomfortable for me. I decided to make the sex scenes about horrible sex because I hated writing them. I thought, if I have to do this it’s gonna be the worst sex ever.
Angela and I were on set while they were filming a sex scene in the movie and let me tell you, they hit it on the nose. It was pitch perfect. It was exactly what I hoped it would be transformed into film.
With This Ring premiere Saturday January 24 on Lifetime.