(MIAMI BEACH) -- Tonight, OWN will premiere Love Is ____, the scripted relationship drama from Mara Brock Akil and her husband/producing partner, Salim Akil. The series, inspired by the couple's real-life relationship journey, follows Michele Weaver as Nuri and Will Catlett as Yasir and how the two unexpectedly fell in love while pursuing their careers.
"It definitely was one of those things where I'm glad the way that I came in I didn't over research her," Weaver tells ABC Radio, referring to series creator Mara Brock Akil. "I really was more of like, "OK, what's on the page? Let me just go in and be live." And I'm glad that I did that because I feel like if I came in and was trying to impersonate someone... it would have lost the authenticity."
For Catlett, it was a bit more challenging to become Mara's husband, Salim. "That was my biggest struggle," he says. "Because Salim and I... we're a lot alike. And then, at the same time, Mara has her mirror that she sees too. So at some point I just had to surrender."
Like Catlett, Mara Brock Akil says she also yielded to the process and opened up when it came to her character. In fact, she says the series, among other things, taught her just how "brave" she was in creating the character Nuri, as well as the importance of love.
"Love is ___ is our offering to talk about how to keep love, not only in our romantic lives, but... our love to our dreams, our love to our co-workers, our love to our family members, our love to our friends," Mara Brock Akil says. "[I]t's time to put that back out into the world."
Love Is ____ premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
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