This photograph was taken on the movie set of The Secret Life
of Bees in Watha, North Carolina during a break between scenes. Right before it was snapped, I looked around at the female cast who had gathered behind me and felt surrounded not so much by the actresses as by the characters in the story: Lily in her beekeeping suit, looking very pleased to have landed in the pink house; August, the wise head of this female hive, her nurturing hand on Lily's shoulder; Rosaleen with a mix of strength and vulnerability on her face; June in her Civil Rights T-shirt, radiating defiance; and May in her braids with her hypersensitive heart and childlike manner.Left to Right: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo
Seated: Sue Monk Kidd and Director, Gina Prince-Bythewood (Photo by Sidney Baldwin)
The film will arrive in theaters soon–– Friday, October 17–– and it seems everywhere I go I'm asked if I've seen the movie and what I think about it. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago at a small screening. I'd read the script, but sitting in the theater, waiting for the movie to start, I had no idea what I would see, whether the story and characters would come to life on the screen and feel true to the novel. I'd said before that turning over my novel to Hollywood had, at times, seemed like leaping out of an airplane, but it never seemed more so than at this moment, when the lights dimmed and the film began. Over the next hour and forty-five minutes the parachute opened and the whole thing floated beautifully to earth. I realized that not only was the adaptation true to the book, it was actually a very good film.
When I saw the photograph for the first time last week, it reminded me of one of the things I love best about the movie–– its portrayal of the solidarity that binds these women and how vividly their mothering and sistering change the lives around them. I hope the photograph will be an invitation–– novelist to reader–– to see the movie with your friends, mothers, sisters, daughters, and book groups, and experience The Secret Life of Bees
, as I did, in a whole new way.