For Ava DuVernay, Cherish the Day brought an opportunity to showcase the many sides of black love.
DuVernay created and executive produces the romantic anthology series, which premieres tonight on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
“We’ve seen non-black love in every way,” DuVernay said recently during a Q&A at her Array Creative Campus in Los Angeles. The Emmy winner and Academy Award nominee noted that her goal for the series is to bring “black love in all of its iterations” to television.
The first season follows Xosha Roquemore (The Mindy Project) and Alano Miller (Underground) as they meet and fall in love in Los Angeles, where the series is shot.
Roquemore plays Gently James, a strong-willed personal assistant from the inner city opposite Miller’s Stanford educated app developer Evan Fisher.
Each episode follows a single day in the couple’s lives as they meet at a public library, go on dates and struggle to make their relationship work. The full eight-episode season spans five years.
DuVernay said she knew from the start she wanted each season to focus on a different couple.
“The challenge of this was figuring out how do you start and who are the two actors who could bring this idea to life to kick it off,” she explained.
For the first season, Roquemore and Miller are joined in the cast by Michael Beach, Anne-Marie Johnson, Kellee Stewart, and Cicely Tyson.
DuVernay created Tyson’s role as retired screen legend Luma Lee Langston with the Emmy-winning actress in mind. She called Tyson, and the actress immediately agreed to join the cast simply based on DuVernay’s involvement.
“She really, sight unseen, came on board and then she really fell in love with the character and helped me create that character,” DuVernay explained.
The series is produced for OWN by Array Filmworks and Harpo Films in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. In addition to DuVernay, Paul Garnes (Queen Sugar), Tanya Hamilton (Queen Sugar), and Oprah Winfrey also serve as executive producers.
Cherish the Day premieres over two nights on OWN, starting Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and continuing Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The eight-episode chapter will continue to air on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT.