×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil Shared Their Love Story in ‘Love Is__’

Love is… getting my way,” Mara Brock Akil joked at the premiere of OWN’s new scripted series “Love Is__” Monday night. The series creator was standing on the carpet alongside her husband, director and producer Salim Akil, ahead of the premiere screening at NeueHouse in Hollywood when she explained why there was an empty space in the series title.

“There is not one definition of love and we are supposed to fill in that [space] for ourselves,” Mara explained, adding that it needs to be a commitment between people.

While Salim has collaborated with Mara on a number of projects, including “Being Mary Jane” and “Black Lightning,” he admitted to being hesitant about disclosing aspects of their personal lives onscreen.

“I wasn’t ready to do it, [but] Mara was,” said Salim. “I think part of the theme of ‘Love Is__’ is love realizing you can’t allow another person to do anything. If they respect you enough to ask your opinion, you can can give your opinion but she’s a grown woman independent of me. So as an artist, she should be able to do what she wants to do… but I wasn’t down with the s—.”

The series follows a blossoming TV writer (Michele Weaver) who meets and falls in love with an aspiring director (Will Catlett) in ’90s Los Angeles. Mara admitted that while the “essence” of their relationship throughout the story is captured and many details are factual, other moments have been altered for the show.

“It is an inspired by story and it needs to be so that the story can stay compelling and intentional for what the show is,” Mara said. “The pilot sort of nails a lot but as the season of courtship goes on, we manipulate some of the facts so that Nuri and Yasir can be ambassadors for this idea that love is achievable if you define it for yourself.”

The Akils’ love story made Oprah Winfrey want to bring the series to OWN almost instantly.

“Mara walked in with this story about her actual courtship with Salim and before she even finished the pitch, I said: ‘Yes I’m in,'” Winfrey said. “I think the intimacy, the tenderness, the true affection, the real trust and the most important — wanting you to be the best you can — that’s what real love is, and I’m so excited for people to see it play out in a way that they will absolutely recognize.”

Following the screening, stars including Weaver, Catlett, Kadeem Hardison, Idara Victor and Tyrone Marshall Brown attended the reception where Winfrey made a toast to the new series with tequila shots.

“Love Is __” premieres June 19 at 10 p.m. on OWN.

More TV

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Variety to Honor Jax Media Chiefs Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns at New Leaders Event

    Emmy Award-winning producer Tony Hernandez and Emmy-nominated producer Lilly Burns will receive the Creative Leadership Award on behalf of Jax Media at the Variety New Leaders event presented by City National Bank, taking place Nov. 14 in New York City. As founders of Jax Media, Hernandez and Burns have produced shows and specials such as [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Virginia Leith, Female Lead in Stanley Kubrick's First Film, Dies at 94

    Actress and model Virginia Leith, who starred in Stanley Kubrick’s first film “Fear and Desire,” which he later disavowed, has died. She was 94. According to family spokesperson Jane Chalmers, Leith died after a brief illness at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. on Nov. 4. Born on Oct. 15, 1925, Leith met Kubrick in [...]

  • Friends

    'Friends' Reunion Special in Early Planning Stages at HBO Max

    More “Friends” could well be there for you when the HBO Max rain starts to fall. An unscripted “Friends” reunion special is in the works at the forthcoming WarnerMedia streamer, Variety has confirmed with sources. Sources say original cast members Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are in discussions [...]

  • TC3_SM_060718_238A4600.cr2

    'The Crown' New Season: Netflix to Offer Opening Episode for Free in the U.K.

    When Olivia Colman steps into the royal shoes of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers in the U.K. and Ireland will be able to watch for free as Netflix makes the eagerly awaited Season 3 curtain-raiser available gratis. The streaming giant will launch the series opener on a dedicated site for a limited period starting Sunday, making it [...]

  • T.R. Knight

    TV News Roundup: T.R. Knight Joins HBO Max's 'The Flight Attendant'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight joins HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” and BET renewed “Games People Play.” CASTING T.R Knight has been cast in HBO Max‘s dark comedy “The Flight Attendant.“ Knight will play Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) older brother, Davey. When Cassie’s life starts to unravel, Davey deals with the [...]

  • Days of Our Lives Bill Hayes

    'Days of Our Lives' Cast Members Released From Contracts

    The entire cast of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” have been released from their contracts, Variety has confirmed. The daytime drama has run for over 13,000 episodes since first debuting in 1965. The show will go on hiatus at the end of November, though it has shot enough episodes to last through the [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings Week of Oct. 28:

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct. 28: ‘This Is Us,' 'Grey's Anatomy' Double

    “This Is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were among the biggest TV ratings growers for the week of Oct. 28. Both the NBC drama and the ABC medical show doubled their ratings after seven days of delayed viewing, with the former ending up on a 2.8 among adults 18-49 (the highest rating for a non-football show [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content