The 16th annual gathering of movie industry insiders known as the Urbanworld Film Festival will kick off with the BET film, “Being Mary Jane” starring Gabrielle Union and created by the powerhouse team of Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.
The festival begins on Thursday, Sept. 20, in New York City, featuring film premieres, staged screenplay readings, documentaries and panel discussions about the state of the industry. The festival over the last 16 years has become a popular venue for Hollywood studios and indie film distributors to premiere new works.
The opening night of this year’s festival will shine with the newest film vehicle for Gabrielle Union, BET Premiere Cinema’s “Being Mary Jane,” which also features such acting talent as Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Richard Brooks, Richard Roundtree, Omari Hardwick, Robinne Lee, Latarsha Rose, Tika Sumpter and Stephen Bishop. The film was created and written Mara Brock Akil and directed by Salim Akil—the team behind “Sparkle,” as well as a long string of hits like “Girlfriends,” “The Game” and “Jumping the Broom.”
This was Union described her role and the film in an interview after the movie wrapped:
“‘Being Mary Jane’ is basically about a television host, who has her own show, and how she balances her life,” she said. “Between wanting to talk about hard hitting news and other stories, she shuffles through her own personal morals. It’s about her trying to stand up for what she believes in but also keeping her ratings. She also struggles with the idea of being raised with the same morals, values and opportunities, throughout her family and being the only one to make it. How does that change the family dynamic? Her family comes from the upper-middle class, but she is the only one out of her siblings that is doing well. Her lack of a love life and the poor choices that she has made are also explored.”