'Love Is' Protagonist Nuri Is 'Bold and Fearless' Like Show Creator Mara Brock Akil, Michele Weaver Says

The OWN network is bringing the heat to summer with the premiere of its new romantic dramedy, Love Is_, on Tuesday.

The series is based on the real-life love story of renowned television showrunners Mara Brock Akil and her husband Salim Akil—both of whom are creators and directors of the show.

Love Is_ introduces a slew of burgeoning talent as they portray characters facing the trials and triumphs of falling and staying in love, all the while striving for success in their personal careers.

Aside from seeming like the quintessential Hollywood love story, the new series appears to dismiss that age-old stigma of having to give up true romance for a life of success, but rather, depicts a coming-of-age black woman actually having her cake and getting to eat it too—that is, when she's willing to work hard for it.

"It's great because the woman who is writing [the show] has already experienced it," Michele Weaver, who stars as the series' lead protagonist Nuri, told Newsweek recently. "They say, 'Write about what you know,' and [Brock Akil] knows the journey of climbing the ladder in Hollywood, especially as a black woman starting in the '90s. And she also knows what it takes to keep a relationship alive in an industry where a lot of relationships fail just because of the pressure of the career."

Read on for Weaver's full interview with Newsweek below.

This interview has been condensed for purposes of length.

'Love Is_' Star Michele Weaver Dishes on OWN's New Show
Michelle Weaver as Nuri on "Love Is_," premiering on OWN on June 19, 2018. Courtesy of OWN

How did you end up getting involved with the show?

People always ask me that and, you know, [it was] nothing glamorous. Just like any normal actor, I got an email for an audition, went through the audition process and they ended up picking me.

Did you feel any pressure playing a role based on Brock Akil?

Of course! I think there's pressure with any role. I wanted to make sure that I did it justice, but it was great because she was on set a lot. And she's a writer. The good thing about playing a person who's also the showrunner and the writer is that she gave me a lot on the page. She knocked it out on the page for me.

What do you love the most about Nuri?

I love her boldness. She's fearless and she takes risks. Unfortunately, sometimes when you take risks, you start to doubt them. But at Nuri's core, she follows her gut. When you meet her in Love Is_, she's still pretty early on in her career, so it looks like she's being a little unwise with some of her boldness. But you get to see what actually makes her successful is that she's willing to take risks. Her instincts are good and you see her learn how to follow her instincts. Any successful person kinda breaks the rules a little bit. That's what makes them stand out. Nuri doesn't really fit in and she sees things differently, and through her progression, you get to see that's what really makes her stand out and become the trailblazer. We know that it works, because Mara already did that and [the show is] based on her.

The show seems to dismiss that stigma that women who are very focused on career success can't have love too.

I think what it shows is a realistic approach to love and career. It's great because the woman who is writing [it] has already experienced it. They say, "Write about what you know," and [Brock Akil] knows the journey of climbing the ladder in Hollywood, especially as a black woman starting in the '90s. And she also knows what it takes to keep a relationship alive in an industry where a lot of relationships fail just because of the pressure of the career. That's just something I appreciate as an actress and also an actress who is very much like Nuri—I'm very much in the beginning stages of my career, I'm not married, I don't have a family. It's great to see that you can have your cake and eat it too, but you also have to know the truth that you are gonna have to sacrifice some things. You are gonna have to fight for some things. You can't just show up and get what you want. You have to show up and fight for it, and that's also a part of Love Is_. It has this truth element to it. It's lighthearted, beautiful and hopeful, but it's also real. Love is gonna take everything that you got. Are you willing to give everything you got for what you want?

What is love, in your opinion?

I would say that love is a journey. I believe that when you love someone, your love should grow as time passes. So as you're beginning to know them and as life evolves your love also evolves. You love someone at their worst, you love someone at their best, whether it's your mother, your father, brother, sister or friend, or your partner in crime. Basically when you say you love someone you commit to having a journey with them.

Have you ever been in love before?

[Laughs] You're the first person to ask me that! I believe I've been in love before, yes. I mean it didn't work out so you wonder, "Was it love?" But I do believe I've been in love before.

Did you draw on any past feelings help portray Nuri's strong love for Yassir?

This show is very intense for me because a lot of things that Nuri went through throughout the season, I have gone through in the past few years. It was almost freaky because there were moments I was like, "Oh my God, I know exactly how she feels." I am a woman of faith and spiritual woman, so it almost was like I realized why I went through something in the past, I needed to know how to play that in a scene. So it was actually very healing for me and rewarding because of that. It's very freaky how much my life kinda mirrors Nuri. Obviously, there are still a lot of differences, but there's a lot of things that kinda come and some of the decisions that she had to make, I've actually had to make. So I definitely drew a lot from my personal experiences. Even if my situation wasn't quite as high stakes as her, I knew the essential emotion and fear that was happening in that situation.

Michele Weaver Dishes on 'Love Is_' Character Nuri
Will Catlett and Michele Weaver in "Love Is_," premiering on OWN on June 19, 2018. Courtesy of OWN

How did you like working with Will Catlett?

It's so funny because we've known each other for years. I know his wife. We have similar friends. My best friend was in the same acting class as him and I was in the same program but a different class years ago. I actually was so relieved to see him at the chemistry read because already I knew his talent and I know him as a person. Even though we weren't super close, we had a similar circle of people that we were always around. So I knew his character as a person. I've seen him really mature and I've watched his career grow. So as soon as I saw him I was like, "Oh my God! It's about to be lit!" I'm super excited to work with him! He's a talented actor. I can trust him. He's respectful and I know he's a good guy. It definitely was an advantage for us, because the second I went into a reading with him—opposed to the other actor—I completely was comfortable.

Was filming a collaborative effort or did you guys just stick to the script?

It really was collaborative. The great thing about Mara is she's really open, and so were a lot of the directors [we worked with]. When we came in we were free to improv a little bit, make some choices, challenge some choices. Considering Mara is the visionary of this project, there were things that she said, "No we're gonna do it this way because of this, this and this." And then at that point, we're like, OK, let's just trust the vision. That's what collaborative work in the creative is. You have to trust even if it's not your first instinct. It's really a surrender thing. Everyone is being a vessel for one big story. So it was great.

What are you hoping viewers take away from the show?

I really hope that people can watch the show and they heal and feel relieved, comforted, like, "OK I'm not alone. I've been through things, but there's hope." I would hope that they would be hopeful. I would love audiences to receive peace. Some things might have happened in the past, now what's the future? You failed at that job? OK, but what else do you wanna do? That feeling of, "I can make it. I have what it takes to really go after what I want. I hurt people or I've been hurt, but I can have love too." That would be the most amazing, rewarding thing that could come out of any project—for people to just leave with peace and hope.

Love Is_ premieres on OWN on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

'Love Is' Protagonist Nuri Is 'Bold and Fearless' Like Show Creator Mara Brock Akil, Michele Weaver Says | Culture