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Tag: Mara Brock-Akil (1-2 of 2)

Mara Brock Akil talks 'Essence' film contest, 'Being Mary Jane,' 'Best Man Holiday' success: 'Race is not a genre'

Mara Brock Akil has a lot on her plate, but she’s not complaining — in fact, she’s willing to share the secret of her success with industry newcomers.

The producer/director (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane) is joining husband/business partner Salim Akil, producer Stephanie Allain, People movie critic Alynda Wheat, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, and actress Regina King to judge Essence‘s Black Women in Hollywood Short Film Contest. The aim of the contest is to find emerging filmmakers to help create multidimensional black female characters, in contrast to the narrow depictions commonly presented in media. The winner will be honored in the company of A-listers during the seventh annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon on Feb. 27.

“I’m excited to see what’s on the minds of young filmmakers, what they are thinking about,” Akil tells Entertainment Weekly. “This generation has grown up with technology, which allows an easier opportunity to express yourself. Before, you needed a crew of many just to get an image captured. So I’m wondering where the creativity will lead in the expression that’s on their minds.”

On the Scene: Oprah gets the last word at the 'Essence' Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

In the midst of the Hollywood awards season, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon is a welcome departure from the scripted formalities of awards speeches. Everyone already knows who is being honored, so there’s no pressure, and the guests are just happy to be there to support their peers and idols. Held Thursday over a long lunch in the elegant Beverly Hills Hotel, the 2013 honorees were: Oprah Winfrey, Alfre Woodard, Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends), Gabrielle Union, Naomie Harris (Skyfall), and Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

The crowded red carpet had the feel of a happy high school reunion — with Naomi Campbell, Blair Underwood, Ava DuVernay, and Kelly Rowland. But the excitement about Oprah kept everyone anchored and thrilled. “People respond to truth. She owns her body, she owns her truth,” said Tamera Mowry-Housley. David Oyelowo (LincolnMiddle of Nowhere) told EW, “Oprah means the world to me.” Having just come off of filming The Butler with Winfrey, he added: “She’s become a great friend and a great mentor. She’s just a wonderful, wonderful human being. It’s a real privilege to be here.”


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