WINTER WHITE: Gabrielle Union Stuns in White Jumpsuit at the “Being Mary Jane” Premiere Screening in Los Angeles on December 16, 2013 Photo Courtesy of BET
BET tries something new with a breakout drama
BET has embarked on a multi-city tour to promote its first hour-long, original drama series, “Being Mary Jane.” Landing in Los Angeles Monday December 16, the Sentinel was invited with a host of celebrities to join CEO of BET, Debra Lee, star of the show, Gabrielle Union, and the entire cast and crew for a premiere screening and panel discussion held at the Leonard H Goldenson Theatre, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Plaza in North Hollywood.
As the evening began, celebrities flooded the red carpet. Magic and Cookie Johnson, John Salley, and Kym Whitley among others, posed for pictures and gave interviews along with the show’s star-studded cast. Next, guests were escorted into the theatre and the upcoming episode was screened.
Following the screening, a panel discussion was held where the shows creator, Mara Brock Akil, along with the cast, spoke candidly about the show’s purpose and message.
“I think as people of color, we’ve spent our entire lives watching television, looking for our reflection in mainstream television and struggling to find it,” remarked Loretha Jones, President of original programming at BET.
“What’s so wonderful about what Mara has created is it’s a show that doesn’t just resonate and tell the story of a singular Black woman. It resonates and reflects our culture. Whether you’re Black, White, Latin, you get to see a woman who is struggling with the problems that every woman is struggling with,” Jones went on.
Many were captivated this past July when BET premiered the “Being Mary Jane” movie special as an introduction to the series. The unconventional pilot resonated with audiences across a wide demographic attracting four million viewers and a slew of positive feedback.
The show is a glimpse into the life of Mary Jane Paul (Union), a successful broadcast journalist struggling to “have it all,” as Union puts it. Trying to balance her flourishing career, with her family and love lives is a challenge, but one that Akil, the shows producer, says is extremely relatable.
“If we’re being honest with ourselves, yes you can relate to a Black woman’s experience. Her family, her career challenges, her love life, and her alone moments,” Akil told the crowd during the discussion.
Now green lit for eight more episodes, “Being Mary Jane” will return to BET in the New Year premiering January 7, 2014.
Jones believes it will serve as somewhat of a time capsule for this generation of women.
“When we make television, I believe we’re making art,” Jones explained “and so a hundred years from now, when people ask what was it like, not just to be a Black woman at the early part of the 21st century, but they’re going to ask what was it like to be a woman. I really believe that they’ll be able to look at this show and say, ‘Oh, I get it, that’s what people were experiencing, that’s what they were going through, and that’s what it felt to be Mary Jane.”