Thanks to her witty drama and comedy series, writer, producer and show creator Mara Brock Akil continues to entertainingly showcase diverse slices of the Black life. Whether it’s the friendship and fun times of four single friends living in Los Angeles (Girlfriends) or the complicated tales of professional athletes and their loved ones (The Game) or even the professional and love life of a career woman wondering if she can have it all (Being Mary Jane), Akil has a firm grasp on what TV audiences want to see.
BET.com caught up with the prolific screenwriter last week when she previewed a special screening of Being Mary Jane's season two premiere at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, California. In addition to BMJ’s new season, Akil also gave us the scoop on the conclusion of The Game and an update on the much-anticipated Girlfriends movie.
The season two premiere of Being Mary Jane is only two months away, what can audiences expect from the new season?
A lot. We’re excited about sharing the idea that Mary Jane ended [last season] making a good decision for herself. It was bold. It was, "Have a nice life, Andre [portrayed by Omari Hardwick], I’m going to be mature." Sometimes that’s all you have figured out. Now we get to watch her build and heal herself. And you are going to see her try to [be] bold and empowered. I don’t want to say she gets herself into trouble, but she’s not smooth sailing it.
Tell us how the current nationwide racial divide between Black men and police worked its way into one of this season’s episodes.
There is a scene where Patrick [Richard Brooks] is pulled over by the cops. And it’s not a huge plot point; it was just a day in the life. It’s very interesting that we are aligning ourselves with what we are dealing with in our real lives today. Had Ferguson and Eric Garner happened before we produced our episodes, we would have gone in deeper, but I’m very proud that we were already dancing around the issues. I’m very proud that we are in that conversation about what’s going on with us as a family, as a community, as a people. And that we are examining our place and context in America. Those are issues the premiere episode also talks to.
The Game will soon be ending its eight-season run. What are your thoughts on how the show concluded?
We had a fantastic, beautiful run and it was beautiful to say goodbye. It was emotional and fun. I’m proud what we were able to do — it was 147 episodes. We just wrapped the show on December 6.
Discuss The Game’s evolution. You lost major cast members during the course of the series and had to reinvent the show around new ones.
I never thought I was going to lose Melanie and Derwin [portrayed by Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Pooch Hall], but like in real life and in The Game, people come and go. Even in sports. No one ever thought that Peyton Manning would be wearing a Broncos jersey. We thought he would always be in a Colts jersey, but he had to move on and now people are all about that. We used the real life examples of how sports players come and go and you deal with it. We went with that and it worked for us. And the addition of Lauren London and Jay Ellis has been amazing. What I’m most happy with about with The Game is that all the characters, including Melanie and Derwin, were not lost at sea. All the characters have been safely docked at shore. As a show creator, when your characters get an ending, that is a gift. I will always be grateful to BET for pulling us out of the water and getting us to shore.
We spoke to Tracee Ellis Ross, Jill Marie Jones and Golden Brooks and all three actresses said they would love to star in a Girlfriends movie. As the creator of the sitcom, what it would take for that to happen?
People are pining for an ending for the Girlfriends characters. We all want the movie. But, it’s a business situation right now and I’m chopping through it. So hopefully one day we’ll be able to make that Girlfriends movie. I don’t have anything definitive to say — I’m not writing, I’m not doing anything for it at the moment. I just have to get rights so I can do it. We’re sorting out the business now to see if that’s a possibility.
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