Mara Brock Akil is one of Hollywood’s most powerful TV showrunners, and while her name may not be mentioned in the same sentence with Lee Daniels or Shonda Rhimes, the L.A. native says that just remaining gainfully employed is far more important than receiving industry accolades.
“There was a time in my career when I thought being celebrated was important, but now I’m really more interested in being able to do the work,” she said during an interview with The Huffington Post. “And the interesting thing is, I can’t be this successful and nobody know who I am. I think the audience that I’ve had a conversation with over my 20-year writing career are primarily Black women, and I think that statement is more about society than it is about me. And that is, there’s no value in the audience that I value. But now, the tide is turning; things are changing.”
As Huff Post notes, Mara has worked in TV for 20-plus years, writing for such hit shows as Moesha and The Jamie Foxx Show and creating Girlfriends, The Game, and, most recently, BET’s hit show Being Mary Jane. She and her husband, Salim Akil, launched their production company, Akil Productions, in 2000.
Being Mary Jane is currently in its third season and stars Gabrielle Union as a successful news anchor whose juggle of her career, love life and family have hit a chord with black viewers, and that’s primary because Akil says she pulls from the experiences of the people in her life to help create Mary Jane’s world.
“I have a lot of men in my life, I have a lot of women in my life — and they’re dynamic human beings. And so, part of my job as a writer is being a listener,” she said. “When I create characters I try to put a full human being together. A full 3D perspective of human being. And I feel like I’ve been doing that.”
“My goal is to always create dynamic characters that look like and feel like people we know,” she added.
You can read more of Mara’s interview here.
Being Mary Jane airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on BET.