Tonesa Welch wants to be known for more than her role within the Black Mafia Family, so she’s taking control of her narrative with the new film directed by Vivica A. Fox.

“I really wanted to tell my story because of the whole BMF series, the perception, and the misconception people had of me,” Welch told Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “I wanted to show who I was, the way it was, the way that I saw it with my own eyes. What I am doing now. I didn’t want it just to be a glorifying story, because it wasn’t like that,” she said.

“It’s ups and downs in that life and so coming through that journey, I wanted people to see my journey, how I got there, what made me get into a life like that, and where I’m at now,” Welch added. “And for director Vivica A. Fox to want to do my story and show who I am, I just wanted people to know that I worked hard on stage. I want people to see that and for young women to understand and know that you can change.”

For Welch, it was much more than being a “drug girl.” Life gave her a second chance, and she fully displayed it for BET+’s First Lady of BMF: The Tonesa Welch Story.

“I remember getting the link and watching Tonesa’s story,” Tressa Smallwood, the film’s executive producer, said. “She did an episode on BET’s American Gangster: Trap Queens, so when they asked me if I wanted to do this movie, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, the answer is yes.'”

Smallwood says Welch’s resilience drew her into joining the team to share her story.

“The reason I was attracted to this story is because she talked about change. She talked about redemption,” she explained. “Growing up for me, I was all over the place as a teenager so I was instantly attracted to this story because I could relate,” Smallwood continued. “I remember telling Vivica about Tonesa and obviously we didn’t have a script at the time, so all we could do was watch the Trap Queens episode and she was like, ‘Let’s get behind this.'”

“I’m just proud, period. Even when I watch Tonesa now. We have conversations sometimes about the project and its finish date, and she’ll say, ‘I’m nervous. I wonder what will people think.’” Smallwood shared. “And I will say to her, it doesn’t matter what anybody says. Well done, honey.”

For Fox, having First Lady of BMF as her directorial debut is a dream come true.

“I’m getting a little emotional because it’s a hell of an opportunity,” Fox said between tears. “Tressa and Tonesa did a screening and to see the reactions of the audience, I literally burst into tears like I am right now because we worked really hard. There were 14-hour days. I remember the last day, I think it was almost an 18-hour day, we shot around the clock to make sure that we got it done. The team, the cast, the crew, they were just so wonderful so to see that reaction to our project made it all worth it. It really did.”

First Lady of BMF premieres Thursday on BET+.