Mara Brock Akil

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Mara Brock Akil
Akil in 2013
Mara Dionne Brock

(1970-05-27) May 27, 1970 (age 53)
Alma materNorthwestern University
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, producer
Years active1994–present
(m. 1999)

Mara Brock Akil (born Mara Dionne Brock; May 27, 1970) is an American screenwriter and television producer. She created the UPN sitcom television series Girlfriends (2000–2008) and its spin-off The Game (2006–2015). She later created Being Mary Jane (2013–2019), the first drama series for BET. In 2018, she produced the DC Arrowverse series Black Lightning for The CW and created the show Love Is for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Los Angeles, California to Joan Demeter, and was raised primarily in Kansas City.[1]

When Brock Akil was eight years old, her parents divorced; this later became the vision behind Brock Akil's main character in Girlfriends. Joan Demeter left Los Angeles and moved to Kansas City, where she was able to work her way up from an entry-level position at Marion Labs to a computer programmer, while raising Brock Akil and her two siblings: brother William "Bill" Brock and younger sister, actress Kara Brock.[2]

She graduated from Raytown South High School in 1988. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and became a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[3]

While at Northwestern, she penned and acted in a sketch comedy show for Northwestern's Black Student Union, played the lead in a production of The Colored Museum, and took a screenwriting course taught by author and screenwriter, Delle Chatman.[4] Brock Akil moved to Los Angeles a year after graduation and landed a job as a production assistant.[5]


Brock Akil first began writing for television in 1994 writing for the critically acclaimed but short-lived Fox series South Central.[6] In 1999, she served as supervising producer and writer on The Jamie Foxx Show after writing for Moesha for four seasons.[7] In 2000, Brock Akil created and executive produced (along with Kelsey Grammer) another UPN series, Girlfriends. She also created and executive produced a spin-off to Girlfriends, The Game, along with her husband Salim Akil.[8][7] In 2009, Brock Akil became a consulting producer and writer for the ABC suburban sitcom Cougar Town.[9] She is the creator of BET's Being Mary Jane, which premiered in 2013.

Brock Akil went straight to UPN and sold her idea for her hit series to the network.[10] She shopped the series around to studios to start the filming process, but, even though the show sold to a major network, no filming company wanted to take the bait. She struck a deal with Kelsey Grammer, and his involvement with Paramount Pictures was able to sign on as an executive producer for the show.[11] Girlfriends premiered on September 11, 2000, and became a part of UPN's Monday night prime time lineup. Chronicling the life of Joan Clayton, played by Tracee Ellis Ross, and her three friends, the show ran for eight seasons, lasting through the production switch from UPN and the launch of The CW network. The show's two-part series finale aired on the CW on February 11, 2008.

Following the launch of the CW network, Brock Akil created a spin-off series to her first show that follows the life of Joan's cousin, Melanie Barnett, played by Tia Mowry. She places her dreams of being a doctor on hold and moves to San Diego to be a supportive backbone to her boyfriend, professional football player Derwin Davis, played by Pooch Hall. The series ran on the CW network for three seasons until its abrupt ending in 2009. The show was canceled for about two years until it was picked up by BET and began production in Atlanta. The Game brought in 7.7 million viewers in its Season 4 premiere on BET.[12] After adding six more seasons to the series, the network released a statement on its website stating that the show would conclude after production of the seventh and eighth seasons.

With an already established relationship with the BET network, Brock Akil worked alongside her husband to co-write and produce their first show on BET. Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union premiered July 2, 2013, and became the couple's first hour-long scripted show. The show chronicles the life of Mary Jane Paul, a successful news anchor, and attempts to address the statistic that within the black community 42 percent of successful women will never marry.[3]

As of March 2017, Brock Akil left ICM Partners to join CAA.[13] More recently in September 2020, she signed a multi-year overall deal with Netflix to create new original content, under her new production company story27 productions.[14]

The Akils created and executive produced a scripted superhero series, Black Lightning, based on DC Comics' Black Lightning series.[15] The show premiered on January 16, 2018.

Legal issues[edit]

Staci Robinson, writer and author of Interceptions, filed a 40 million-dollar lawsuit against Brock Akil and the CW network, accusing Brock Akil of stealing the concept of her hit CW comedy series "The Game" from Robinson's novel that was unpublished when she showed it to her in 2001. Robinson claimed she thought of the show first because her novel chronicles the life of Stefanie Porter, a senior studying law at UCLA, who ceases her hopes of becoming a lawyer to support the dreams of her boyfriend, star football player Ricky Powers.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Brock Akil met Salim Akil while working on the set of Moesha, and the two married in 1999.[17][18] Salim also went on to establish a career in the industry as a television director, most notably as the showrunner of Black Lightning, on The CW.[19][20][21] The couple has two children.[7][22] She and her husband, Salim, are practicing Sufi Muslims.

The Akils created Love is ___, which was based on their relationship, but was canceled after a woman accused Salim of domestic violence in an alleged extramarital affair, as well as copyright infringement by using her screenplay as the basis for the series.[23][24] A statement made by Akil's lawyers denied all allegations.[25][26]

Along with friends Gina Prince-Bythewood, Sara Finney Johnson and Felicia D. Henderson, Akil endows The Four Sisters Scholarship.[27]



Year Title Producer Writer
2012 Sparkle Yes Yes
2013 The Start Up Yes No


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1994 South Central No Yes No
1996–1999 Moesha No Yes Yes
1999–2000 The Jamie Foxx Show No Yes Yes
2000–2008 Girlfriends No Yes Yes Creator
2006–2015, 2021–22 The Game Yes Yes Yes Creator
2010 Cougar Town No Yes Yes
2013–2019 Being Mary Jane No Yes Yes Creator
2015 Reed Between the Lines No No Yes
2018 Love Is Yes Yes Yes Creator
2018–2021 Black Lightning No No Yes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Series
2005 BET Comedy Awards Won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Girlfriends
2007 NAACP Image Awards Nominated Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
(shared with Mark Alton Brown, Dee LaDuke, Veronica Chambers, Michael B. Kaplan, Karin Gist, Tim Edwards, Regina Y. Hicks, Michele Marburger, Kevin Marburger, Shauna Robinson, Prentice Penny)
(For episode "After the Storm")
2012 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
(shared with Salim Akil)
The Game
(For episode "Parachutes...Beach Chairs")
2013 Black Reel Awards Nominated Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted Sparkle
2014 Black Reel Awards Won Outstanding Screenplay (Original or Adapted), TV Movie or Mini-Series Being Mary Jane
2014 NAACP Image Awards Nominated Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series The Game
(For episodes "Blueprint Part 1" & "Blueprint Part 2")
2015 NAACP Image Awards Nominated Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Being Mary Jane
(For episode "Über Love")
2016 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series
(shared with Jameal Turner and Keli Golf)
Being Mary Jane
2018 Black Reel Awards Won Outstanding Drama Series

(Shared with Salim Akil, Greg Berlanti and other producers)

Black Lightning


  1. ^ "Mara Brock Akil". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  2. ^ "Mara Brock Akil's Babyshower". Essence. October 29, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Mara Brock Akil - Medill - Northwestern University". Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "Girlfriend - with an Agenda, Spring 2004, Northwestern Magazine". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  5. ^ "Girlfriend - with an Agenda, Spring 2004, Northwestern Magazine". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  6. ^ Finley, Taryn (February 5, 2021). "Mara Brock Akil Broke The Mold For Black Characters On TV — And She Isn't Done Yet". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Hollywood's Undercover Hitmakers: Salim and Mara Brock Akil". The Hollywood Reporter. August 9, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  8. ^ Danielle, Britni (May 19, 2017). "How 'Black Lightning' director Salim Akil co-created the show and why". Andscape. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  9. ^ Tisdale, Stacey (July 27, 2015). "[VIDEO] "Being Mary Jane" Producer Mara Brock Akil Gets Real About Passion and Money". Black Enterprise. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  10. ^ "How Mara Brock Akil Plans To Save TV". The FADER. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Mara Brock Akil Opens Up About A "Girlfriends Movie' On The Breakfast Club: Says She Needs Money To Get Movie Done". Comedy Hype. July 17, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "Exclusive: Mara Brock Akil Talks Ending The Game on BET". Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "CAA Signs 'The Game' & 'Being Mary Jane' Creator Mara Brock Akil". Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 9, 2020). "Mara Brock Akil Inks Overall Deal With Netflix As Streamer Sets Premiere Date For Her Series 'Girlfriends'". Deadline. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  15. ^ "Mara Brock Akil's Superhero Drama Is Moving To The CW". February 6, 2017. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  16. ^ "TV Barn". October 18, 2006. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ "Akil, Mara Brock |". Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  18. ^ "Hanging In There: Mara Brock & Salim Akil Celebrate 21st Anniversary". Black America Web. April 28, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  19. ^ Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil Ink Overall Deal With Warner Bros TV, Deadline, August 5, 2015
  20. ^ 'Black Lightning': Richmond native brings new-look superhero to The CW, Eastbay Times, January 12, 2018
  21. ^ Horne, Karama (November 6, 2018). "Salim Akil talks Black Lightning, Milestone Comics and the Power of Normalizing the Image of the Black Family". theblerdgurl. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  22. ^ "Hanging In There: Mara Brock & Salim Akil Celebrate 21st Anniversary". Black America Web. April 28, 2020. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  23. ^ Henderson, Cydney. "OWN cancels 'Love Is _' amid domestic violence allegations against producer Salim Akil". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  24. ^ "Amber Dixon Brenner v. Salim Akil et al". JUSTIA Dockets & Filings. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  25. ^ Patten, Dominic; Ramos, Dino-Ray (December 2, 2018). "'Black Lightning' EP Salim Akil Says Abuse Claims "Totally Untrue"". Deadline. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  26. ^ "AMBER DIXON BRENNER VS SALIM AKI". Unicourt. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  27. ^ Franco, Ariela (August 4, 2005). "'Four Sisters' Endow New UCLA Scholarship for Film and Television Students to Portray the African American Experience" (Press release). University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved November 20, 2014.

External links[edit]