Did Y'all Know Vanessa Williams Improvised That Iconic 'F-ck the Family' Line in Soul Food?

Vanessa Williams as Teri in Soul Food (1997)
Vanessa Williams as Teri in Soul Food (1997)
Screenshot: 20th Century Fox/YouTube

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but we have yet another upcoming reason to sit down and eat a smorgasbord of ‘itis-inducing food. That’s right, we have Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and more this month!

In the spirit of this deliciously heavy food, we need to take a trip down memory lane to the 1997 classic, Soul Food. Specifically, we have to talk about that scene.

Y’all know the scene…

Soul Food Movie Clip - Teri Pulls a Knife on Miles / YouTube

...but, I’m going to set the scene for you anyway in print.

The Joseph family are at a function and they begin arguing over the status of the late Big Mama’s house, which Teri (Vanessa Williams) believes should be sold. Several members of the family argue that the house is important to the family, to which Teri responds, “Fuck the family!” In fact, this is what she says, exactly:

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“Oh, fuck the family! I let the family into my house, and you know what? The family fucked my husband.”

“The family” who fucked her husband (Miles, portrayed by Michael Beach) was Faith (portrayed by Gina Ravera). Miles tries to explain, but Teri ain’t hearing none of that shit! Teri then pulls out a whole knife and lunges toward the adulterer while Ahmad (Brandon Hammond) makes an “OMG” face that wholly encapsulates how the audience was feeling because…OMG OMG OMG!

It was iconic. It was scandalous. It was epic. It added yet another probably-unfair-but-not-really reason not to trust Michael Beach.

Well, apparently, Williams didn’t read that line from a script—it was improvised! In a clip from Williams’ recent interview with Blair and Brandon Dottin-Haley of Savage Chat Series, Williams revealed that the popular line was an ad-lib.

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“That wasn’t in the script,” Williams said. “So, the great thing about working with people that are undiscovered and have that fire in the belly, when we worked on Soul Food, George [Tillman Jr.] was a new director...this was something that he wrote about his family. So, getting a chance to work with George, a young director and writer, on the set, I was like ‘Let’s try this, let’s go for that, let’s do it’. I’m not a mentor, but I loved supporting him and his choices. And I said, ‘Let me go for this’ and he’s like, ‘Go ahead!’”

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We love an open-minded director! Because without that openness, we wouldn’t have gotten such an epic moment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit down and watch Soul Food for the 50-11th time...

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

violetofjuly
Optimistic Prime

1) This scene is so iconic

2) Unpopular opinion, but Teri was right. It was easy for everyone else to yell about keeping the house because no one else was paying the bills.