BET launches “Being Mary Jane”
Provocative film signals new direction for network
By Ronda Racha Penrice Contributing Writer | 6/28/2013, 6 a.m.
“I have to give credit to Salim for Gabrielle. They met on Jumping the Broom and she wasn’t the right match for that,” she explained. “When Salim saw the script, he was like ‘use Gabrielle,’” and, as Brock-Akil joked with the crowd, “I haven’t gone wrong with him so far.”
Other recognizable faces co-starring in “Being Mary Jane” include Decatur native Omari Hardwick, who is perhaps best known for playing Janet Jackson’s bisexual husband in the Tyler Perry film “For Colored Girls…” and factors into Mary Jane’s complicated romantic life, as well as Tika Sumpter, who stars in Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” on the OWN network. The film and future series also features the iconic actor, Richard Roundtree, who plays Mary Jane’s father. Viewers will note that principal scenes were filmed in and around Atlanta.
Observing how Black viewers have made “Scandal” a success, Brock-Akil told the crowd that the same kind of support would be needed to uphold “Being Mary Jane” as a new kind of flagship for BET.
“We have to show up stronger in January,” she stressed. “We are not going to be able to do anything without the partnership of the audience.”
She also urged the audience to cut BET some slack and give them credit for putting forth this kind of effort and spending the money that programming like “Being Mary Jane” requires.
“The judgment we have about BET, we have to get over it,” she prodded. “At what point do we allow people, networks, to change?”