Women Rock: Mara Brock Akil

6th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon held at the Beverly Hills hotel

Who is Mara Brock Akil?

Mara puts pen to paper and creates real people who share (via television and film) authentic experiences we face in this thing called life. Girlfriends, The Game, Cougar Town, Sparkle, South Central, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Moesha… Mara’s had a hand in them all. Check her resume, she rocks!

Girlfriends, the first show created by Mara, is one of my all-time faves. It was so good that I had to buy boxed sets. I’m anxiously awaiting her new series Being Mary Jane, which debuts in 2014 and stars Gabrielle Union.

Mara captures the complex lives of individuals (esp. African American women) and serves them up on a plate of awesome with the help of her diverse team. That team includes her husband/partner Salim Akil.

You know they’re the bosses over at Akil Productions (formerly Happy Camper Productions), right? Let’s say it together: Power couple!

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of spending time with Mara and Salim as they honestly (not Hollywood honest) uncovered their relationship in a panel at the BET Experience. They shared how they keep their marriage in tact and manage their business relationship.

Aside from dynamic partner and skilled writer, Mara also proudly hold the titles; successful producer, devoted wife and nurturing mother. From where I stand, she does it all with style and grace.

Mara is an ah-MAy-zing Los Angeles born, Kansas City raised individual rocking the world. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Unlike Dorothy and Toto, Mara worked hard to create the life she lives, she didn’t just click her heels.

Fun Fact: (Cue Kanye West’s Through The Wire) She’s a Delta, so she’s been throwing up that dynasty sign.

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Tyler Perry’s The Haves & the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor

THATHNcastatLAscreeningCast members at the Los Angeles press party (photo credit: Nicolle Whalen)

Fascinated with BFFs Tyler Perry and Oprah’s new partnership, I’ve patiently waited to check out the new projects on OWN.

Last week, I attended the press party for both series. The event, held at SLS Beverly Hills, featured brief teasers and a Q & A session with cast members. Forthcoming with behind the scenes deets, the casts seemed genuinely excited about their respective shows, so I eagerly awaited the air dates.

Yesterday, I watched the first two episodes of both shows and i’m ready to share my thoughts.

The Haves and the Have Nots is both Tyler and Oprah’s first drama. The premiere episodes definitely brought a boat load of drama. The issues are real and relevant, but there is a soap opera feel to the show.

At the press party cast members emphasized how this drama is much different from soaps that they previously worked on. As a viewer, that boundary is not so clear. I’m curious to see how the show progresses.

As for the comedy,  Love Thy Neighbor, it is the signature Tyler Perry that fans have grown to know and love. The characters are over the top, but authentic. The series ruptured with touchy topics including infidelity, independence and trust.

I hope that continually displaying real issues truthfully will start a shift towards us becoming better people. We realize how silly a situation/idea is when we are on the outside looking in, right?

Share your thoughts below or tweet me @kinkycurlsla.

IMG_2591Tika Sumpter introducing The Haves and the Have Nots teaser

IMG_1736Dynamic duo Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey in Essence Magazine‘s June issue

Success 101: Class is in session (Produced by Faith)

Meet DeVon Franklin. He is one of my mentors, but he doesn’t know I exist, yet.

I was introduced to DeVon while researching for a publicist I worked with a couple years back. Intrigued by his story I locked his name in my memory bank.

Fast forward to March 2013… sipping Chardonnay and chatting with the girls at Yard House LA LIVE, up comes Mr. Franklin. Not in the flesh, but a Google image on a friends iPhone. The girls were eliciting my response in attempt to gauge my “Hot or Not” meter.

Surprised that I knew of him, they curiously questioned me and I divulged a few fun facts. DeVon currently serves as Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Tristar Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, making him one of the youngest individuals in that position in the industry. Did I forget to mention that these friends happen to work at Sony? Needless to say, they know him in that context.

The conversation reminded me that I never picked up his book, appropriately titled Produced By Faith. Yes, he’s an author… a preacher and motivational speaker too.

I made it my business to order Produced By Faith before it slipped my mind a second time. It arrived and I began reading it during my lunch break last Thursday.

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Produced By Faith is an inspirational guide to assist you and I as we navigate through life in faith. This book is exactly what I need in my life right now. It always amazes me when I can relate to a piece of work as if its author/creator can see right through me.

While reading Produced by Faith (or while it read me), I found myself shouting, “You too?” And then there were times when I would bow my head in shame and say, “That’s me.”

Coincidentally or not, I work in entertainment as well, but this guide is not exclusive to those pursuing a career in entertainment. I can talk the book up until I am blue in the face but I won’t. I’ll just let you know that if you are struggling with life, career or faith decisions, then you want to read it. In the coming weeks, I will share some of the points/lessons in the book via the blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Lastly, you’re probably still wondering if I think he’s hot, huh? Yes!!! No disrespect to Mrs. Devon Franklin (also known as Meagan Good).

Life of Pi

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Happy New Year! I rang it in at the movie theatre watching Life of Pi.

Did I like it? Yes! The film is literally gorgeous. I am not crazy about 3D, but this was pretty awesome. Aside from it being easy on the eyes, it had an incredible story to match. Fantasy or not, Pi’s journey is captivating and inspirational.

The fact that I could (unexpectedly) relate to many themes covered in the film reeled me. Struggle, faith, love, friendship, family, spirituality, travel and independence are all relevant themes in my life.

Starting this year watching Life of Pi was my first good decision of 2013. Stayed tuned as I share my journey.

Check out the Life of Pi theatrical trailer below.