The singer plays herself in the Lifetime biopic, ‘Keyshia Cole: This Is My Story,’ premiering Saturday
Keyshia Cole is making her acting debut by playing herself in a new biopic, giving fans a front-row seat into her most vulnerable moments.
In her Lifetime biopic, Keyshia Cole: This Is My Storythe award-winning singer rehashes her life’s ups and downs with her mother Frankie Lons, who struggled with drug addiction until she died of an accidental fentanyl overdose on her 61st birthday, July 18, 2021.
“This is like my way of making peace with a lot of things,” the “Heaven Sent” singer tells PEOPLE of the film. “I was able to relive those moments and make peace with them all. That was my goal.” Another goal, she says, is the hope that the movie “helps people.”
Related: Keyshia Cole’s Biological Mother Dies of Overdose on 61st Birthday: ‘Worst Pain Ever,’ Says sister
The film begins with Cole’s troubled upbringing in Oakland, California, where she lived in foster care and often had to go and seek out her mother, Lons, played by actress Debbi Morgan, who was living on the streets at the time.
Later, the film chronicles Cole’s rise in music and her mother’s debilitating addiction that, at times, played out on camera due to the family’s reality show, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Iswhich debuted in 2006 on BET.
“Part of me was like, ‘I don’t want to show her in that way,’ ” says Cole of second-guessing her decision to portray her mother’s challenges in the film. “But she had fans as well and I thought it would be kind of selfish at this point. And there’s a lot of great things about my mom that they have never seen. She was always joking or always going crazy, one or the other. “
The 41-year-old — who reportedly also lost his father Leon Cole Jr. to COVID-19 and her dog Lola shortly after her mother’s sudden death — saying that while she “almost had an anxiety attack” at the film’s screening on June 21, the experience actually helped her cope with the tragedy in her life, namely the loss of her mother.
“A lot of the moments felt like she was there,” says Cole of seeing mom Frankie in Morgan’s powerful performance. “I felt I was able to tell my mom goodbye because I didn’t get to tell my mom goodbye. In an eerie way, I was able to speak with my mom. Maybe she could hear it.
In one poignant scene, Frankie tells her, “There are two Frankies, the Frankie I want to be and the Frankie I’ve always been.”
“We had those conversations all the time,” Cole says. “I tried my best not to judge her. She’d say, ‘You always did right by me, never made me feel unloved because of my addiction.’ ”
“I’m good. I just pray and I’m so thankful to have my kids because they are my light,” says Cole of sons DJ, 13, with ex-husband Daniel Gibson, and Tobias, 3, with ex Niko Khale. “Just being near them and being able to take them to school, picking them up, being a regular parent, that is a lot of my healing, being able to give my children something that I didn’t really experience.”
When her elder son saw the film, the teen — who witnessed his grandmother’s struggles — helped Cole feel better about sharing her story. “He was like ‘Mom, you really survived a lot and you’ve done it so well for yourself. It’s not all bad moments so don’t beat yourself up about that.’ ”
As for happy times with her mother, Cole shared one memory that comes to mind. “I remember I was at a hotel and I was sad about something and she grabbed my foot and just started to rub it. I was shocked. It was just a mother-daughter moment of her trying to soothe me. She was like, ‘I’m your mother Keyshia.’ It was awesome.”
Cole, who says she believes her mom is at peace, recorded a new song for the film that will be released next Friday in honor of her mother, who died after taking drugs. Cole says he was unknowingly laced with fentanyl.
“She believed in God, in Jesus Christ,” says Cole. “I believe that she is okay. I’ve had dreams about her. in one [dream] right after she passed, she came outside and then she told me she had to go back inside. I’ve had a few of those dreams where she laughed and looked healthy.”
Adds Cole, “I’ve never blamed my mom for what I’ve gone through, I just survived it and was made better for it.”
Keyshia Cole: This Is My Story airs Saturday at 8 pm ET on Lifetime.
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