A destination for adulting Black women is how I would describe the latest digital platform, In the Land of Mara (ITLOM).
“When I tune into my creativity, I get aroused. It’s akin to the attraction of another. It’s as if my ideas secrete pheromones that actually get me turned on — like, straight up horny. I can literally feel the energy pulsate through my body and it amazes me that there is a physical manifestation of how I feel when I’m engaged with my art.”
This is an excerpt from an ITLOM piece titled “Writing Horny“, published under the Writers’ Colony section. There is no where else online you will find this level of rawness and intimacy from the ITLOM founder and show runner, Mara Brock Akil.
Like trying to resist my husband (or any of my lovers before him) I cross my legs, or eat, or do just about anything to not say “fuck it” and masturbate or close the computer, cancel the scheduled writing day and just go have sex.
When I came across the Harpers Bazaar article that announced Mara Brock Akil was launching a digital platform, It filled me with so much excitement! I couldn’t wait to visit the site. I believe Mara Brock Akil is highly underrated in Hollywood and I truly wonder why. This woman is the mind behind the popular TV shows most Black women and multicultural women love such as Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane. As stated in Harpers Bazaar, ” her voice has been modestly narrating our lives through characters like Joan and Mary Jane since the year 2000.”
In the Land of Mara takes you into the actual life of the show runner whom we barely know in real life but know only through the stories she tells on her television shows. Mara describes the ITLOM destination as a more personal venture. It is an aesthetically minimal site with three tabs covering Essays, Favorite things and Writers’ Colony.
Essays are grounded, shallow and deep; favorite things depicts her musings and a shopping destination while Writers’ Colony (WC) shares her whimsies, musings, inspiration, process, and general advice around writing.
Mara describes ITLOM as part of her healing as a person and her growth as a writer. She shares she’s mastered her ability to say what she wants to say through memorable characters that lead the stories she’s told for over 400 episodes of TV but now, at 50+, she’s reclaiming her pen to tell her own story. She calls it being brave to share what she thinks, feels, learned and to share ideas of how to re-imagine this world which says needs a huge remodel.
One thing I always imagined for myself as a creative person is having dinners with the best creative minds. I imagine myself at a dinner table with the likes of Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, Wole Soyinka, chimamanda ngozi adichie, Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay, Tyler Perry, Barack and Michelle Obama, Elif Shafak… and certainly Mara Brock Akil. Obviously they are all from different fields of life but what intrigues me most about these names and dare I add Oprah to this list, is that their brilliance is undeniable and their world view heavily shapes our world. Mara Brock Akil says she sees the site as what she would say, if life had a ‘dinner party”.
Truth is, this site is the table calling the names of us adulting Black women.
Being an adulting Black woman who just entered her 30’s , adulting feels like a scam. The millennial generation is adulting and life is not going as we planned. We swore our 20’s to change the world and become game changers and trailblazers. We were all going to land in Forbes 30 under 30 and find investors in our startups before 30. At 30 and some change, we would have our path solidified and ready for the next stage which would involve marriage and may be a kid.
Just like the Being Mary Jane intro alert to its audience opened with a cautionary claim: “Forty-two percent of Black women have never been married. This is one Black woman’s story, not meant to represent all black women.” I am Mary Jane?
I definitely identified with the character of Mary Jane in her career ambition, the frustration of Joan when it came to love, and the self awareness from the main characters of Love Is— . Combing through these TV characters and now getting invited to the dinner table by the creative mind behind these shows, presents an opportunity that we would have never had.
Now, those of us who saw ourselves in either one of the TV characters can now get a chance to learn from the master mind herself about how to live fully and not holding back.
From the range of essays on the site to Mara’s favorite things and the Colony, Mara seems to be for the first time, owning her success and celebrating her self and life in a way she may have never done. She is opening up as a successful wife, woman, mother and creative professional through her platform, believing she has something to gift this next aging millennial generation of Black women. I reverence this gift so much and I plan to use it as my sacred space of musings. This is the space I will go to for inspiration and girlfriend-mentor check-ins as I explore my femininity, my creative stakes, my tumbling dating sagas which I hope will end soon and be more whole in true romance and family, my entrepreneurial challenges as a business woman in media and my life as a friend, sister and someone who aims to forever be of service to the world.
To others who may have “played small” throughout their lives, never fully owning their beauty and talents, or taking pride in the multiple roles they fill, Brock Akil relates and has a message: “Follow your heart’s desires. Actually take action on the things that one fantasizes about. It will lead you to joy, a better understanding of who you are, and further down the road of your purpose. ~Mara Brock Akil
Black women are being marginalized every single day and we need to be reminded that we always deserve better, we must celebrate ourselves and appreciate every win we accomplish.