Toni Braxton

It’s hard to lớn imagine the video of Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” any different than what has been watched more than 600 million times on YouTube, let alone never existing. That almost happened after its director Bille Woodruff screened the final cut for executives at LaFace Records.

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“Toni và I loved the video, but I played it at one of our office meetings, & no one liked the video,” recalled Woodruff in a 2020 interview with Rated R&B. This included the label’s founder LA Reid and label distributor & Arista head, Clive Davis, who Woodruff recalls saying, “Oh my gosh. You have her with this orchestra. No, this doesn’t work.”


Woodruff knew the concern for Braxton’s next visual following the runaway hit “You’re Makin’ Me High” và its racy video clip would happen. However, he had a broader vision behind a tuy nhiên as powerful as the one Diane Warren penned & David Foster produced.

“I didn’t want khổng lồ make it about ‘you did me wrong.’ I wanted khổng lồ make it feel bigger. I wanted the loss lớn feel bigger & more thematic,” Woodruff shared.

Woodruff drew tons of inspiration from 1976’s A Star Is Born, one of his favorite films, which starred Barbra Streisand.

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“It’s the reason why I had her in that curly bởi when she’s in the trắng dress. It was kind of like what Barbra Streisand’s hair was like. The whole thing of her man getting killed .”

After finally getting approval from Reid to lớn send the videos to lớn major television networks lượt thích BET, Woodruff found himself backed against another wall.

“I dropped it off at MTV và they called me back & was like, ‘Bille, we love you, we love Toni but this đoạn clip is….’ I’m like, ‘What?’ They’re like, ‘This is lượt thích Whitney Houston.”

Woodruff elaborated, “What that meant was it’s too adult contemporary because Whitney Houston had become that at that moment, which was not hip.”

Between a rock in a hard place, considering he worked at LaFace và had entered a friendship with Braxton, he pleaded with them khổng lồ give it a shot.

“I said lớn them, ‘Listen, you said you love me. You said you love Toni, so what you need to do, just vì me this favor, just put the video clip in rotation for a week. I know you’re not feeling the video, but just play it và let the people decide. The rest is history. People loved it.’”


“Un-Break My Heart” cemented Braxton as one of the greatest singers of all time, soaring up many Billboard charts, including one labeled Adult Contemporary, where it topped for 14 weeks. It stayed atop the Hot 100 for 11 weeks, one of the longest consecutive runs among women in R&B.

The platinum-selling single was acknowledged with a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal in 1997.

“It sounds crazy lớn say now that these people didn’t love the đoạn phim because it’s a classic video now,” said Woodruff.

“I was luckily in a position where I could protect it because I worked at the label. If I didn’t work at the label, that đoạn clip never would have seen the light of day because it just would have been written off & they would have re-shot the video. There would have been no one inside to maneuver & go out on a limb & fight that way.”