Director Numa Perrier on her new Netflix film

 From left are Aisha Hinds, Gina Torres, Gabrielle Union, Numa Perrier, Keith Powers attend ‘The Perfect Find’ Centerpiece Screening at American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 16, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Netflix)

Many women have heard the old adage that being ambitious and career-driven means sacrificing your chance at being in a loving relationship. “The Perfect Find” reminds viewers that you can indeed have it all, even if it’s later in life.

For her debut studio film, director Numa Perrier adapts Tia Williams’ book, “The Perfect Find,” for Netflix starring Gabrielle Union, Keith Powers, and Gina Torres. In the film, after a public breakup and being out of work for over a year, Jenna (Union) seeks out her professional rival, Darcy (Torres), for an editorial position to help revitalize her fashion magazine.

While fighting to prove herself not only to Darcy, but also to reinvent herself professionally, Jenna unknowingly becomes romantically involved with Darcy’s son, Eric (Powers). What ensues is Jenna and Eric trying their best to overcome the various obstacles that stand in their way as a couple and luckily, their fairytale has a happy and inspiring ending.

In the nearly 10 years since the L.A. Sentinel first spoke to Perrier, who in 2016 starred in the Civil Rights film, “Jerico,” not only has she continued to hone her skills as an actress, but she’s also one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors, having directed episodes of “Queen Sugar” (OWN), “Reasonable Doubt” (Hulu), “Unprisoned” (Hulu) and “The Wonder Years” (ABC).

Perrier speaks with the Sentinel about her journey to direct “The Perfect Find.”

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L.A. Sentinel: Can you talk about the process of the source material being a book with a huge fan base and not just a screenplay? What, if any, challenges did you face in the pre-production process?

Numa Perrier: It’s never easy, but I loved having the book as an anchor and as a place to really let my imagination grow. There were a lot of conversations about what to do with how the book ends versus how the producers wanted the film to end and talk of alternate endings.

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – JUNE 16: Numa Perrier attends ‘The Perfect Find’ Centerpiece Screening at American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 16, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Netflix)

The most challenging part of the development process was making sure that even if the ending was different, it still spoke to the themes of the book. The book is very juicy, almost salacious in the romantic scenes. I wanted to keep a lot of that steam and sizzle in the film and I think we nailed that.

I also wanted to keep the feeling of what it’s like to reinvent yourself as a woman who’s gone through a lot of rough things all at the same time. So those are things I was dedicated to, but the book served as a beautiful anchor to all of that.

LAS: With social media, we’re always watching so many people’s lives and there seems to be even more societal pressure on women to have a perfectly curated life. Can you share any advice for women who may feel overwhelmed with life but aspire to have a love story like Jenna’s?

NP: I’ve definitely felt those feelings of being overwhelmed. I am a diehard romantic and no matter what I’ve been through, love is something that I’ve always believed in and am always seeking. So, I wanted to be able to give that in the film.

For those of us who have straddled both sides from having no social media to now it being a mainstay of all our lives, at a certain point you have to tell yourself it’s okay and you don’t have to scramble or run on a hamster wheel to keep up with every single change. Just use the things that are in service to you and whatever works with how visible you want to be in your life.

In the film, I wanted to show that Jenna is someone who’s adapting yet, she’s still holding on to her answering machine. You never see anyone texting in our film because films from the 1990s didn’t have that. So, it was things like that, that made those two worlds come together for me.

 LAS: Can you talk about working with Gabrielle Union, who was not only the star of the film, but also a producer?

NP: She was very hands-on and that was a really good thing because she had a lot of great ideas. The balance I was trying to find was me saying to her, ‘Please work less!’ Gabrielle has worked so hard her whole life, she’s a perfectionist in a lot of ways.

In this character and this role, she wanted to show the other side of ambition, the parts where we have to pick ourselves back up and the parts that are softer and more vulnerable. I really tried to take the pressure off of her and encourage her to just melt into who Jenna is.

Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers star as “Jenna” and “Eric” in “The Perfect Find” Directed by Numa Perrier. (Courtesy: Netflix)

So that was a dance that she had to find her way around because when you’re producing, there’s a lot going on and there’s a lot that you have to take care of and then you have to switch back to being this open, relatable, vulnerable, person. That was the challenge that was presented to us, and I think she succeeded at both.

 LAS: You’ve accomplished so much professionally in under a decade, in an industry that can be difficult to navigate as a Black woman. What advice do you have for young women in regard to moving through adversity?

NP: This is a very emotional time for me because I’m looking at how far I’ve come and I feel really proud of myself and the things that I’ve gone through to get here. For anyone whose just kind of starting this journey, follow your heart, that’s what I did every step of the way from my first short film to now.

The advice I would give is to continue educating yourself. I didn’t get a degree in any of the things that I do now, but I found the best acting class I could and then I took editing classes at community college so I could know the language of editors as well as how to edit a bit myself. I let one project build brick by brick upon the other and never lost sight of that.

Watch “The Perfect Find” streaming only on Netflix.