Many people tuned in Saturday to Lifetime’s biopic about the life and career of singer Toni Braxton. Titled “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart,” the film told the story of Toni’s rise to fame and her struggles with money, love and health along the way. Newcomer Lex Scott Davis was cast to play the Grammy Award-winning singer.
The movie began with the now-48-year-old singer getting signed to Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ and Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s LaFace Records and showed the guilt she faced because of her getting picked to be a solo artist over her also-talented sisters Tamar, Towanda, Traci and Trina Braxton.
Check out 18 things we learned from Lifetime’s “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart” below:
1. Toni and her sisters got their start in music by singing at the church where their father preached. Evelyn Braxton, Toni’s mom, only wanted her girls to sing “clean” music, not that “bumping and grinding” stuff.
2. When Toni told her family that Babyface and L.A. Reid wanted to sign only her, Traci was the first one to encourage her sister to take the deal. Her brother Michael Braxton Jr. also wanted her to accept it. The youngest of the bunch, Tamar got upset, as did Evelyn who initially didn’t want Toni to accept the solo deal.
3. Michael Braxton Sr. revealed that Evelyn was once in a girl group and had the chance to go solo, but she turned it down. Michael Sr. said Evelyn did not get the opportunity to become a solo singer again.
4. Evelyn put a lot of pressure on Toni not to leave her family behind. The matriarch wanted all her girls to become successful singers and made Toni promise she would help them.
5. Toni never really had somebody explain to her how she was supposed to handle her money at the beginning of her career. The “Un-break My Heart” singer subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection twice. The first filing centered on a bad contract she signed with LaFace: Toni sued the record label and won $22 million, but she wasn’t allowed to publicly discuss it for 10 years. The second filing was made right after she found out she had lupus and had to cancel her Las Vegas residency.
6. Her first big break in the music industry came when she recorded a demo track for the 1992 film “Boomerang.” She sang the song “Love Should Have Brought You Home” for Anita Baker, but Baker couldn’t record it because of a scheduling conflict. She suggested Toni record it instead.
7. Wesley Snipes apparently had a crush on Toni and sent flowers to her home after one of her performances.
8. L.A. Reid bought Toni her first expensive car, a Porsche, following the success of her debut album, which went four times platinum.
9. Toni had a boob job early in her career, much to her mom’s disapproval.
10. Toni didn’t really like the song “Un-break My Heart,” but Babyface and L.A. Reid convinced her to record it. She wanted to attract a younger audience by being sexier, but they wanted her to continue selling “pain” and sing love songs.
11. Toni met her ex-husband Keri Lewis on her first solo tour. He was with the group Mint Condition at the time.
12. It was Toni who decided to end her marriage to Lewis in 2013, not long after she was diagnosed with lupus.
13. In 1999, she found out she was pregnant with her first child, but she had an abortion. Toni told Keri she had been using an acne cream that cause birth defects in babies.
14. Toni and Keri went on to have two children together, Denim and Diesel. Diesel was diagnosed as autistic when he was 3 years old.
15. Evelyn went ballistic when she learned that her husband had been cheating on her for nine years. Evelyn started smashing photographs of her husband and herself, while Michael Sr. locked himself in a room to escape her. Toni said that moment changed her family forever.
16. Toni’s doctor initially believed she had a heart attack after she collapsed, but later determined it was caused by lupus. The doctor told Toni she would have to stop touring and putting on big concerts, but the singer didn’t slow down because she had so many people depending on her. However, she was forced to take a hiatus when she collapsed in the middle of a show.
17. Tamar was the one who brought up the idea of doing a reality-television series called “Braxton Family Values.” Toni wasn’t on board at first, but eventually agreed to do it.
18. Babyface convinced Toni not to retire from music. The two went on to record the joint album “Love, Marriage & Divorce” and won a 2015 Grammy for best R&B album.