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What happened to Jenifer Lewis? Actress, 67, tearfully breaks silence on near-fatal accident

The Black-ish star spoke with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America

Actress and author Jenifer Lewis attends the Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner on October 06, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
12 March 2024
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Jenifer Lewis is breaking her silence on a devastating accident that left her near death during a vacation to the Serengeti in Africa in 2022.

A snippet from an exclusive special with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts was aired in which the actress, 67, affectionately known as "The Mother of Black Hollywood," detailed her experience.

While still possessing her signature verve and zest for life, she candidly told Robin that the past year had been "the hardest" as she processed how her dream vacation turned into a nightmare.

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Jenifer recalled that after the conclusion of her sitcom Black-ish after an eight season run in April 2022, she intended to retire and celebrated by taking a trip to the Serengeti months later in November 2022.

She painted a picture of the fateful day. "The sun sets. And when the sun sets in the Serengeti, there are no street lights, it is pitch black. I was escorted to the lodge, my room. But I wasn't given a tour…I should've been given a tour.

"I laid out my safari clothes, and I saw the infinity pool out on my deck. So I went out, I was just taking in the fact that I was back in the Serengeti once again. I was walking and all of a sudden…I had fallen ten feet…into a dry ravine."

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Jenifer choked up as she described falling off her deck over ten feet into a dry area that was surrounded by boulders and sharp rocks with little vegetation.

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"There was a space that was not sectioned off. And there was no sign that said "Caution"…ten feet drop." Footage from the night taken by a friend showed Jenifer, not moving at all, collapsed on the ground as rescuers came to her aid.

BLACK-ISH - Our Wedding Dre  Pops and Ruby are getting re-married! And Dres intimate wedding plans go awry when Pops brother, Uncle Norman, shows up unexpectedly for the festivities. Meanwhile, Ruby refuses Bows offer to help with preparations until an unanticipated situation gives her an opening to save the big day on black-ish, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18 on ABC. (Richard Cartwright via Getty Images)
The actress was celebrating the end of her run on "Black-ish" with a vacation to Africa, which is where the incident took place

She described being "in shock" when she made impact, with her shoulder hitting a stone and her hip taking most of the impact. "A lightning bolt went through my mind's eye. In pitch black, I didn't know I was falling."

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The Sister Act star fought to hold back the tears as she recalled: "I laid there, I said [to myself], 'Move your body, baby. Come on, Jenny, move your body.'" As she tried to call out to her friend, she remembered it being "hard to take a big breath to scream."

Jenifer Lewis visi SiriusXM Studio on September 08, 2022 in New York City.© Getty Images
The queen of the high kick recalled: "I laid there, I said [to myself], 'Move your body, baby. Come on, Jenny, move your body.'"

Robin pointed out that because she was in the middle of the Serengeti, there were probably animals nearby, and Jenifer mentioned that not only was there a Cape Buffalo ten feet away, but she heard a lion roar nearby while laying on the ground.

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"My last thought, because I am Jenifer Lewis, is, 'What a headline! The king at the queen! Pieces of Jenifer Lewis' body is being flown back to the states!'" she said with a booming laugh.

Actors Niecy Nash and Jenifer Lewis attend Moet & Chandon celebrate The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for  Moet & Chandon )© Getty Images
It was mutual friend Niecy Nash who suggested Jenifer share her story with Robin

Robin explained to her GMA co-hosts that Jenifer had kept her time in recovery quiet, and the interview was actually facilitated by a mutual friend, actress Niecy Nash, who encouraged Jenifer to speak with Robin before going public on social media.

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