Married producers Tommy and Codie Elaine Oliver are a genuine team. For a Zoom interview during the Tribeca Film Festival—where their new rom-com The Perfect Find, starring Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers, premiered in advance of its June 23 Netflix debut and won the Audience Award for a narrative feature—they sit shoulder to shoulder, exchanging loving, sometimes playful observations about marriage and careers.
They work together within film production company Confluential Films (Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss; Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project) and media company Black Love, Inc., which produced their long-running Black Love docuseries and now hosts podcasts, photojournalism, live events, and more. They contribute to each others’ creative concepts and develop projects jointly—all while raising their three young children.
The Olivers met 10 years ago, at a party at the Toronto Film Festival. “Where she hit on me,” Tommy cheerfully interjects. “That’s—up for debate,” Codie responds. “I believe it’s totally OK for a woman to make the first move. But I would never say I hit on you!” “Doesn’t mean it isn’t true,” Tommy answers, starting to laugh. (The established facts: They were at a party, and she began to speak with him. Eventually, he asked her if she was hitting on him. She replied, “Uuhhh?!” Make of this what you will.)
Tommy had founded Confluential and was a producer, director, and writer; Codie was with Film Independent, producer of the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Awards, and year-round filmmaker labs. “He was more focused on making movies, while I was more supporting storytellers,” Codie recalls. Both concentrated on bringing Black stories to light.
Asked about the strengths and drawbacks of intertwining personal and professional lives, Codie gives a response that defines “couple goals.” “This is a person who knows what matters to me and will have my back and help me pursue those things,” she says. “And The Perfect Find is a great example of that.”
“He doesn’t care about a rom-com!” she continues, laughing. “He might watch one with me, but it’s not his style. But he decided to put everything he has into making this movie, from the moment we optioned it in 2016 [from a novel written by Tia Williams, a former editor at Essence]. I wouldn’t say they were all decisions made for me, but I think they were rooted in knowing this was important to me.”
Also, “he knew it was gonna be a big, wonderful movie!” she declares proudly. “So, you know—that would be some strengths.”
“This genuinely would not have happened without both of us,” Tommy says. “This movie started with her, and it wouldn’t exist without her. But our partnership is part of what got it here. There was a lot of us working together in tandem.”
As for downsides: “Working from the same room,” Codie says. “Just—being together all the time has highs and lows. It has more opportunity for conflict. But there are also opportunities for connection, so that’s a gift.”
As the Olivers work together, their companies share common goals. “We’re juggling the film’s release with what’s new on the Black Love site right this minute: our fatherhood campaign, called ‘Father Noir,’” Codie explains. “It’s portraits Tommy has been taking for three years—Black celebs and their dads, and Black celebs and their kids. Keith Powers is there! These things represent our commitment to our community—and wanting to tell stories of all sizes, lengths, and platforms that positively reflect us to ourselves.”
“Positively and accurately,” Tommy adds. “It’s about being representative and three-dimensional. We’re telling stories that are positive and aspirational, but with nuance and complexity.”
“We wanna do stuff we can be proud of,” he concludes, “and that we can make well, with good people.” The two share a warm glance of agreement. Couple goals, achieved.