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Mara Brock Akil in the Asita cable-knit sweater and Charlie barrel jeans; all photographs by Coliena Rentmeester

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#MAKEITHAPPEN

Mara Brock Akil, Producer & Screenwriter

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Telling the truth through fiction—this is how Mara Brock Akil has approached her life's work and she's garnered a number of awards and accolades for it. The screenwriter and producer is behind some of the most popular shows on television, including Girlfriends, The Game, and BET's first drama series, Being Mary Jane. At the center of her various projects are stories of humanity—specifically, she says, "the stories of those whom society has pushed to the margins."

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Nowadays, the wife and mother has taken a new step in her career, with the recent launch of story27, her new production company at Netflix. And then there's In The Land of Mara, a bi-monthly digital magazine with personal essays and tips—or as she calls it, a Dézine. "Because it is not a website. It is not a blog," she explains. "It is my heart’s desire. I went back and reclaimed my young adult dream of launching my own magazine." Yes, Akil's still telling great stories, but this time, she's including herself in the narrative.

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Here, we chat with multi-hyphenate talent on the antidote to writer's block, the best advice she's received, and the series she's binging right now.

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My Hustle

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My hustle...
Is to tell the stories of humanity. And, more specifically, center the stories of those whom society has pushed to the margins... and allow their truth to be the mirror that reflects our universal stories.

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What got me started... 
I went to school to study journalism, but quickly realized I could better tell the truth through fiction. 

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What clears my head... 
My favorite playlist pumping through the speakers of my car, as I drive the twists and turns of Mulholland Dr.

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When in doubt, I... 
Return to my first thought that inspired me to begin with.

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Greatest challenge—and how I overcame it... 
My greatest hurdle is tripping over my life by playing small. I overcame that by turning around and facing the storm I was trying to outrun and allowed myself to get wet.

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On knowing when to take the next step in your career... 
Meditation has allowed me to listen to my inner voice. Yoga has allowed me to understand body awareness. The butterflies I was feeling told me to sit down and listen to the desires of my heart. My current desire is to build a legacy company that would allow me to tell my stories, but also be a beacon and a home for storytellers who truly had something to say that will help us to better understand ourselves and each other.

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how i make it happen

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3 morning musts... 
Thank God, connect with my husband and sons, and drink green tea. 

3 life hacks... 
Going gray, which saves me time, money, and dealing with LA traffic. When I write, I don’t wear a bra or any restrictive clothing. Time-delayed emails.

3 secret work weapons...
Hire well, delegate and let go, consistent and clear communication.

My antidote to writer's block... 
Is creating sanctuary space.

Personal talisman... 
My body chain by jewelry designer, Priti Patel.

Best advice received... 
I once asked Debbie Allen if she wanted to be honored by an organization that recently honored me. She hit me back immediately and said that though she was flattered, she had to be judicious in where her time was spent. Anything she said yes to took time away from her restoration, her family, her work, and her dance academy. She had no casual time to give. It made me look at all the things I said yes to that benefitted others but didn’t move the needle toward my dreams. I can now proudly say I have reclaimed my time for self-care, a new company (story27 productions), a Dézine (InTheLandofMara.com), a way to give back through my Writers’ Colony, make Sunday dinners, and be in the stands for kids. 

Akil in the Kressy cashmere turtleneck and Wasia leather jogger pant

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My Style

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Favorite wardrobe hack... 
Sweatpants and heels—thank you fellow Gemini, June Ambrose.

Wardrobe MVP... 
Jenna Lyons.

What I would tell my younger self about getting dressed... 
Use clothes to express who you are, not hide. 

Wearing Veronica Beard makes me feel... 
Casual, chic, and like I will be seated at the best table in the restaurant.

Akil in Gaya corduroy dickey jacket

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My Recharge

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What I'm reading/listening to/binging... 
I’m obsessed with the social commentary on class examined in Squid Games, Kanye’s Donda, and turning pages on Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti.

Beauty/self-care must-haves... 
Kiehl’s Crème de Corps, Santa Maria Novella body washes, eating avocado.

Favorite thing to do... 
Travel. Can’t wait to get back to Morocco and finally get an opportunity to explore Greece and Ghana. 

Favorite thing to make... 
TV shows and my baked chicken on Sundays.

One mover and shaker I admire... 
Desiree Gruber, a woman who has grown her own empire but always makes time to uplift women and leads with the question: How can I support your dreams?

Akil in the Annie cargo jumpsuit

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Shop the Looks

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