Mara Brock Akil on Stepping Into the Director’s Chair for ‘Love Is__’

Audiences everywhere tuned in to the beautiful black love story, Love Is__, from veteran TV writer Mara Brock Akil Tuesday night on OWN.  Brock Akil first began her career in 1994 writing for the critically acclaimed Fox series, South Central. She went on to write for Moesha for four seasons, and later served as Supervising Producer and was a writer on The Jamie Foxx Show.  It’s no argument that Brock Akil has significant industry history under her belt, and has been a true pioneer in painting diverse portraits of black life on television.  Between Brock Akil and her husband Salim Akil, they have written, produced and/or directed more than 350 episodes of primetime television series.

Despite Brock Akil’s significant contributions to television, she made her directorial debut on the series premiere of her new scripted series Love Is__.

“What’s interesting to me is that I haven’t directed until this time.  For some reason, I was afraid to.  As a writer, I get to rewrite myself over and over again until I’m perfect, and I realize being a director, I was afraid to do it.  I was afraid I wasn’t perfect, but the Nuri in me kicked in, and when Salim wasn’t available to do the pilot…I realized I had to be brave and tell my own story,” said Brock Akil in the above interview with OWN.

“Once I allowed myself to not be perfect, and decided you know what Mara just be your best.  Know that you are good enough, know that you can rely on a wonderful team. You’re going to be fine.”

During the premiere episode, Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett) have their initial encounter at Insomnia, the exact same cafe in Los Angeles that Brock Akil and her husband met at nearly two decades ago.

“The magic of the location, and the magic of being able to actually shoot there, I felt supported by the Universe.  I felt like it was perfect timing, and I also stopped beating myself up that I didn’t direct sooner because to have this experience as your first pilot that you’re directing to be your story at your location…It was magical,” shared Akil.

She continues, “The owners who witnessed part of our love story, they still own it.  The table in which they had their exchange, still exists.  Those locations at Insomnia and the furniture store on Melrose…Those are real locations of our love story,” shared Brock Akil.

Love Is__ is set primarily in 1990’s Los Angeles against the backdrop of Black Hollywood. It follows Nuri (Weaver) and Yasir (Catlett), a couple from seemingly opposite worlds, as they chase their dreams and learn to follow their hearts. Told from the perspective of the couple’s present-day selves, the romantic drama also revisits the social issues and vibrant black culture of that time reflecting on how it all aligned to shape the couple they have become nearly 20 years later — a power couple navigating a complex set of social codes while also balancing successful careers and a beautiful family. Drawing inspiration from creators Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s own relationship journey, the series explores the highs, the lows, and the magic of falling (and staying) in love.

“What I think that we are really trying to say is, love is achievable.  If you follow your own compass, you have all the tools within.  Love is not perfect, love is a leap it’s a daily commitment to want to stay together…star tuned to find out how we did it,” shares Brock Akil.

We are excited to see Brock Akil continue to fully express her levels of creativity now that she has moved beyond her fears, and we are anxiously waiting to see the greatness that lies ahead.

Be sure to tune in to Love Is___ on Tuesdays on OWN.



About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime!

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