Debbi Morgan stars in the Lifetime movie Keyshia Cole: This Is My Story as a very important person in Keyshia Cole’s life: her mother, Frankie Lons. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Debbi about tackling the role of Keyshia’s mom in the wake of Frankie’s death in 2021.
“Working with Keyshia, it was a journey and sometimes a bit challenging because of the fact that Keyshia Cole played herself. She wasn’t another actress, and she was still very raw from just losing her mother the year before,” Debbie said. “There would be times in a scene when it was loud and confrontational, and I could see her staring at me like, this was really her mother. This was really Frankie. She even said that to me. I just wanted to reach out and hug her, but I had to try to hold myself together and stay in the moment.”
She continued, “But it meant a lot that we did have those moments where Frankie was able to embrace her and display her love and affection and also express the real pain and sorrow that she had felt from all of the trauma that she had inflicted upon Keyshia ever since she was a young child and even as an adult. But unfortunately, that monkey on her back always seemed to have the stronger pull.”
Frankie struggled with drug addiction throughout her life and died of an accidental overdose in 2021. Debbi admitted that the role was at times challenging for her because some of her own family members have suffered from substance abuse.
“I had spoken to a member of my family who had said that even though they’ve been in recovery for almost 10 years, they have still had these moments, even now, when they think about what would it be like to take just one more hit, but they’d probably never come back from that,” Debbi revealed. “Another family member who just liked doing drugs had no intention of ever stopping doing drugs and did not and has since died. It was a really emotional roller coaster. Keyshia even shared with me that Frankie had said to her, ‘Listen, you need to stop wasting your money sending me to rehab because I like getting high, and I’m not gonna stop getting high.’ And so what do you do? You just keep praying and hoping and keep showing your love and support so maybe eventually they will want to turn their life around. Unfortunately, a lot of times it becomes too late.”
Over the course of filming Keyshia Cole: This Is My Story, Debbi pointed out that she and the R&B singer were “very much in sync.” She added, “We developed a really strong connection, which was so important because of that relationship she had with Frankie. I think that the whole chemistry that we had was so pure and so on point. That’s what you get throughout the entire film. You really believe that dynamic in their relationship. You really see the love that they have for each other even going through such crises.”
The All My Children alum raved over Keyshia’s performance in the biopic, especially since Keyshia is playing herself onscreen. “I was quite impressed. I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised at just how good she is in this movie, even playing herself,” Debbi gushed. “I thought she did a terrific job. That’s why there were those moments because this was all real. It was based on her real life.” Keyshia Cole: This Is My Story premieres June 24 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.