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TV writer and produce Mara Brock Akil opens up about why she’ll never write a perfect Black female character for TV.

Charli Penn
Feb, 19, 2015

Televison producer and writer Mara Brock-Akil walked onto the red carpet at the 2015 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood awards luncheon with a great deal of pride in the work she is doing and wisdom for Black women tired of seeing stereotypical images of them portrayed on their screens.

The Being Mary Jane creator, who received the Visionary Award at the 2013 Black Women In Hollywood event, was asked what that honor meant to her. “It was one of the highlights of my life; it was great,” she told ESSENCE.com Entertainment Editor Yolanda Sangweni.

It's no secret that on Tuesday nights Being Mary Jane is the hottest topic among Black women on Twitter, and Akil admits that she’s thrilled to see that the risks she took in showing an imperfect leading lady onscreen are paying off and appreciated.

“At the end of every cut, I have to ask myself, ‘Do you love it?’ because I’m trying to take risks as an artist,” she added. “We all are. Gabrielle [Union] is taking a risk. We are all trying to go there. You know, at the end of the day, I’m really, really happy with it, but it’s a super-duper bonus when Twitter lights up and we’re taking it over. I love trending!”

When asked if she’ll ever create an angelic Black female character for the small screen, Akil revealed that she’s adamantly opposed to that idea. “I think that’s just as damaging as negative images,” she said. “When Black women say ‘Can you write positive images?’ it’s just a reaction to something that was a lie to begin with. The negative images out there were a lie and to paint them with positive images is a lie too, so you’re just painting lies on top of lies.”

Akil said she would much rather stick to the truth when it comes to portraying Black women on TV. “Our truth is beautiful; we are enough,” she added. “Within our beautiful frailties and flaws is where our humanity exists – between those extremes. No one is perfect. I mean, I tell my kids that every day. You can’t be perfect; so don’t try to be. Just do your best and sometimes your best falls short. The journey of humanity is to get back up again and keep trying, and I think that is what is beautiful about Black women.”