• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Connie Stevens gets behind camera in 'Saving Grace. B. Jones'

December 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Connie Stevens has spent her entire adult life in show business. She's been acting and singing professionally for some 55 years.

Stevens' latest project takes her behind the camera. She makes her feature film directorial debut in the dramatic thriller, "Saving Grace B. Jones."

"I showed this screenplay to a friend of mine and I said that I'm going to make this movie one day," Stevens said. "He read it and when he was through, he said, 'You're going to make it now.' (He) sat down and wrote the check."

Stevens went to work on bringing "Saving Grace B. Jones" to life. It's based on a dark time in Stevens' childhood, when her dad sent her to live with friends in Missouri for the summer after she witnessed a murder.

The movie, however, is not about what happened at home in Brooklyn. It's about what happened during her time in Missouri, something she says she suppressed for decades.

"It was just a brutal time of growing up and I came of age very quickly, went back to Brooklyn," she said. "I was a different girl."

While there, Stevens got a lesson in mental illness when Grace B. Jones, played by Tatum O'Neal, returned to her family after years in a mental institution.

During the same summer, Stevens lived through the great flood of 1951, so when Hurricane Katrina hit, she knew what she had to do.

"I got right off the couch. I volunteered. I was there for 3 1/2 weeks with nine of the nurses I knew from Vietnam. They took care of 45 to 60 people a day," Stevens said.

Stevens knew those nurses from all the time she spent entertaining our troops on countless international USO tours. It's something she did for decades.

"The rest of my life, besides making a couple of films, I want to be working for the veterans for the rest of my life," she said. "That is my sole perspective of helping all of these young people."

Besides acting, singing and running her own cosmetics line, Stevens is also a history buff. She's been hired to write a Civil War-era screenplay.

"Grace B. Jones" is in theaters now. It's also available on video-on-demand.