How do people fall in love? For a phenomenon that happens at least once in every person’s lifetime (or rather it should), the science behind it is still so elusive.
Ava DuVernay turns her lens to documenting the moments when two people go from getting to know each other to falling for each other in her new anthology series, Cherish the Day, airing on OWN Tuesday nights at 10/9c. The series follows Evan, played by Alano Miller, and Gently, embodied by Xosha Roquemore, through significant moments in their relationship.
Miller, who’s married to She’s Gotta Have It star DeWanda Wise, knows something about it. Before he and his wife moved to Pasadena, California, the two lived in the Bronx. And while on-screen his character gives into love by running errands such as buying an antique refrigerator, going bowling and listening to an extensive record collection, in his own life Miller and Wise walked and walked and walked.
“We used to walk from the Bronx all the way to 14th street back in the day,” he recalled earlier this month at ESSENCE. “Our relationship was built on walking. That’s how we got to know each other.”
The two wed in June 2009 after only three months of dating, but Miller said it’s because “it was three months of us walking” and talking. Wise, who studied drama and urban studies at New York University, would often teach Miller about architecture, historical landmarks and how the city landscape would change through the boroughs.
“And in that we also just bonded and had real conversations,” he added. “I mean dark conversations about our families, conversations about our goals, about what marriage looks like, about children in the future. It was intimate constantly.”
Constant intimacy is how one could describe Cherish the Day. DuVernay does a masterful job of creating roadblocks to Evan and Gently’s relationship—while he’s a straightlaced financially secure guy with a snobby mother, she’s a travel-obsessed woman who was raised by an adoptive dad. They easily irritate each other because although the both live in Los Angeles, they don’t see the city, or life, or love in the same way. It leaves viewers wondering just how they’ll fall in love, and when.
“Relationships are sacrificial. Every day is a form of sacrifice, and that’s a choice to choose each other,” Miller said. “They’re filled with so much gray. You know what I mean? And how open are we? How open and willing are we to evolve? How open and willing are we to let go of our own trauma, our own baggage and willing to see a person for who they really are, see the best in them, see the potential in them and see the hope, and the dreams, and the goals, and the desires?”
Miller was presumably nervous on his first day of shooting the series last June, and it didn’t help that someone decided to pull a prank on the actor, also known for turns in the short-lived Underground and Jane The Virgin. Or they just straight up lied to his new boss, DuVernay.
“Somebody apparently told her it was my birthday and it wasn’t,” the 40-year-old actor said, rolling his eyes, “and she wrote me this long [note] like, ‘It’s destined for you to be in this space, and you need to just keep owning that and have fun and explore and bring this character to life, which I know you can.'”
Despite the ruse, the gesture for Miller was confirmation that DuVernay was exactly what the industry says she is: an advocate of the dreamer; a support solar system for stars navigating the often rough gravitational pulls in Hollywood.
“She just believed in me and that was all I needed to move forward and I just took that torch,” Miller said of the director and the series, which filmed for four months on location in DuVernay’s beloved Los Angeles.
Much of the show plays out like a love letter to L.A., Miller said. From taking viewers to pockets of the city that don’t usually get limelight such as Carson, Cherish the Day feels new yet nostalgic.
“It’s a beautiful homage,” Miller said of the city that’s been through so many losses recently with the deaths of Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant and now Pop Smoke. “[We’re] also just showing that community in a different light. Usually when you talk about West Adams or Compton or any of these other areas…you show the gang violence. So it’s the ‘woe is them, oh look at them.’ “
“But no, [Ava] showed so much love,” he continued. “She supports these small businesses too…that hopefully will now have a name [beyond L.A.] and have a following. And that’s beautiful too.”
Cherish the Day, also starring Cicely Tyson, airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on OWN.Share :