Dear Mara: You Made This Show For ME
First, I would like to Thank You for being the legend you are. I will be honest and say that when I was watching Girlfriends, The Game and Being Mary Jane; I didn’t even know that (writing) could be a job. So, I wasn’t thinking about you, the writer, the creator. I was just indulged in the life of the characters. I remember debates with friends on who I “thought” I was. (I always wanted to front like I was a “Toni” but I’m more of a Len at heart). Looking back on it now, seeing Len on television told me it was ok, to be different. I knew it in my heart, I just didn’t have the strength to walk that path.
I noticed that there is one thing, that all your shows have in common, and it’s the characters, they are complex. We wanted to think of Melanie, as just “med school”, but she was more than her purists. We wanted to point the finger and say that Mary Jane was making questionable decisions, but we were secretly her. You took these characters who were supposed to be “black stereotypes” and unpeeled every layer. Until you realized, the playboy/womanizer of the show, Malik, had Daddy issues and simply wanted to be loved.
For these reasons and so much more, I was excited for Love Is_ to premiere. I can feel something special about this show. For one, I’m a writer. Lately, it seems like the universe has showing me different avenues of how to become a professional writer. I remember last year, I talked about wanting to see what a writing room was like. And now, as though it was answering my question, this show comes along. A show centered around a television writer and aspiring writer-director.
The second thing is that I have also met someone who has turned my world upside down, without trying. I met someone who was pursing his dreams against all odds. I had just left Hampton University, where I was surrounded by motivated black men, but none like him. It was something about this man. I didn’t know the word to describe it then, but now, I can say (thanks to you), I recognized his light. A mirror to a piece of myself that I had lost. See, I see myself, not just in Nuri but also in Yassir. When I met him, the idea of dream-chasing, sounded like something that only happen in movies. What he has was special, unique and it radiated off him. My first reflex was to grasp a hold of it and not let go.
Lastly, we get to see the truth about what it means to go after a dream. In mainstream media, we tend to hype up the overnight successes. We don’t take value in the people who “started from the bottom” and made a name for themselves. We tend to glorify what’s hot and not appreciate the things that stood the test of time. Will Smith have said it perfectly, “Changing your life is an athletic event.” It’s not just about the numbers of hours that you put into your craft. It’s also about making a mental shift. It took me four years to go from saying “I want to be a writer”, to being confident enough to say, “I’m a writer”. I know that it’s still early in the show, but it excites me to see realism on television.
We are entering a Black Renaissance and I’m no longer sitting on the outsides, secretly wishing to be apart. This era is not about fighting to prove why blackness should be humanize. It’s showing black people as human and letting the art speaks for itself. This era is about celebrating the black experience, not explaining the black experience. And for a young writer, it’s freeing! I don’t have to try to be, anything. I can simply tell my truth and simply be. And by doing that, showing the pride in black culture, we free future generations. We make it so that no one suffers like the generations before us. It seems as a community, we’re realizing you don’t have to denounce blackness for success. It’s our duty to elevate our race and culture, not leave it behind.
As a writer, seeing other writers not only living but writing in their truth. It allows me to be more personable in my own writing. This allows me, to ground my stories in truth and not be afraid to touch the messy dark places. And for that, I’m forever grateful! I say all this to say, I’m uber excited to see you back with another series. I happy that you are able to stand in the limelight to receive the respect and recognition you deserve. I’m happy that we get to have an authentic black love story on television. (That gives me all the feels.) Just as you did all those years ago, you are affirming me and my choices. You are proving that it’s nothing wrong with being an ambitious hopeless romantic! I look forward to your future episodes.