“How have you been able to find love, maintain love, thrive in your business and individual dreams, and build a family?” Those are queries Mara Brock Akil, 49, and her husband, Salim Akil, 54, have heard for years. Now the power couple behind Being Mary Jane and Black Lightning are providing “an honest answer to a sincere question” by pulling back the curtain on their 20-year love story with the new drama Love Is___.
The OWN series tracks penniless aspiring director Yasir (Will Catlett) and Nuri (Michele Weaver), a successful sitcom staff writer, as they navigate black Hollywood in the ’90s and end up falling in love. “[It’s] two kids from different economic brackets, different upbringings, coming together and recognizing each other and knowing that they can build something together, but also become better people individually,” says Brock Akil.
The seeds of the story hew very closely to what actually occurred when Brock Akil met Akil. For example, like Yasir, Akil was actually broke and living with his on/off girlfriend at the time, and Brock Akil, like Nuri, was seeing three different men. “Early on, there’s both truth and facts,” Brock Akil says, “and as we go through the series, it’s more of the truth — i.e., the essence of us — than the facts.”
Each season 1 episode is meant to function like an indie film examining one aspect of courtship, from meeting each other’s friends and family to untangling from past relationships and dealing with their contrasting economic statuses. And setting the series in the ’90s will allow the writers to reflect on how dating has changed in the past several years. “What’s important is that it gives us a chance to see the differences and similarities of the generational gap for dating,” Brock Akil says.
By the end of the season, Brock Akil hopes viewers will learn that “love is achievable if you define it for yourself.”
Love Is__ premieres Tuesday, June 19, at 10 p.m. on OWN.
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