Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mara Brock Akil's "Being Mary Jane" is Wonderful

I rarely get this feeling from TV shows...usually from books, but rarely from television. That feeling that someone has gone inside your head and communicated the exact feelings, and behaviours, and reality that is personal to you and to people close to you.

We've learned to adapt. Black women. We've learned to watch television programs like Sex and the City, and a range of other fabulous shows that definitely depict WOMEN and their thought processes in an entertaining and relatable light. But there's something so intimately different when the story is about a black woman, and being told by a black woman.

Yes, we had Girlfriends and A Different World and a variety of other programs that had black female protagonists that we could laugh and journey through life with. But it's definitely been a while.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again...you can not underestimate the power of a good story. A believable story. And a story that has the power to move you. I must say, that Mara Brock Akil has created a FABULOUS new television series, and BET is fortunate to have this as a part of their original programming.

I mean, The Game was plenty! Yes, the characters live in a world of money, privilege, and fame...but there is something so down-to-earth and INTERESTING (and funny) about the writing on that show too. The characters are real, and the emotions are real. So it's actually no surprise that Ms. Akil and her husband Salim have executive produced yet another gem.

Being Mary Jane premiered last night, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, as a 90-minute movie. And it was fabulous. It didn't take me long to get sucked into the storyline, to see the various characters in Mary Jane's life, and to get a feel for her as a woman. Played by the uber-talented Gabrielle Union, Mary Jane is clearly every woman.

There have been dozens of television shows that I've loved over the years, and each for their own various reasons. But with this show I FELT something. It was pride, mixed with recognition, mixed with happiness, and then of course it had my attention 110%, and the experience felt bigger than just the show itself.

I loved reading the Twitter responses by readers around the continent, and how everyone could relate to what they were seeing on screen. I loved the praise that Gabrielle and Mara were receiving, and re-tweeting, along with cast member like Robinne Lee. I love what it represents to them, the stars and creators...and to us, the audience.

Mara Brock Akil is a classic individual. She's had her hand in other television programs like South Central, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Girlfriends, and obviously is in tune with the African-American experience. She has the ability to present "real life" without perpetrating negative stereotypes or embarrassing caricatures. She presents reality. And I feel like although her track record speaks for itself, we're really going to continue to see more GREAT things from her in the years to come.

As for Ms. Union, she is definitely one of my favourite actresses, and I believe it's because she is a strong woman on and off screen. More than just a "pretty face," this woman has her shit together. She's an educated woman, and she's been consistently working for the past 20 years in every movie and television show that we know and love.

What I like about her is that she's about her business, and you never really hear any gossip about her. Yes, you see her out with other Hollywood A-listers, and her boyfriend Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat...but it's always in good taste.

I love to see a woman work hard, play hard, hold her head high, and have her work speak for itself, and I believe that's what Gabrielle Union encompasses as an actress.

So it's a sure thing, as far as I'm concerned. The combination of Ms. Akil and Ms. Union...plus a dope soundtrack, great writing, and a network that desperately needs to BE this: something inspirational, and something that is positively representative of the black community. I don't doubt that women of all races can equally relate to the hard-working character of Mary Jane, as she strives to balance her work life, family life, and reconcile her relationship issues and needs.

Most importantly, this program has motivated me. Motivated me in the type of writing I'd like to do, the type of woman I'd like to be, and the power of an image and a great story. I'm really looking forward to the season, when it begins in January of 2014.


Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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