Producer Mara Brock Akil is speaking out about the unexpected cancellation of Love Is ___.
Akil, who co-created the Oprah Winfrey Network series alongside her husband, Salim Akil, took to Instagram this week to address the decision.
“LOVE IS___ I am saddened that this great group of #artists and #storytellers will no longer get to create together on this project in this way,” she wrote. “This was a special tribe— assembling teams like this is by the grace of God— and I will miss not being on set with them to make more magic.”
The message concluded: “And though I know we will all go on to create more amazing work, I’m grateful there was a moment in time that we came together and had the courage to give our best to try and tell a story about love with love. #InTheLandOf #LoveIs.”
OWN’s cancellation of Love Is ___ came after Warner Bros. — which produces the series along with the CW drama Black Lightning — concluded its investigation into abuse claims made against Salim.
The inquiry commenced on Nov. 30, and it found “no accusations or allegations” of misconduct, according to published reports. Salim also executive produces Black Lightning.
The end of Love Is ___ reportedly has no connection to the investigation into Salim, but it’s unclear if a copyright infringement lawsuit against OWN played a role.
Aspiring screenwriter Amber Dixon Brenner, the woman who filed the original abuse lawsuit against Salim, accused the producer in a separate lawsuit of lifting ideas from a script she pitched to him in 2016.
Brenner — who claims she was in an abusive relationship with the executive producer for 10 years — says he used concepts from the script to create Love Is ___, even though there was an “implied understanding” that he wouldn’t use the submission without her “involvement and compensation.”
On Dec. 17, Brenner dropped the lawsuit against OWN, instead choosing to focus her attention on her abuse lawsuit against Salim.
“She is placing the Federal Copyright case on hold without prejudice to refile,” Brenner’s lawyer, Joseph Costa, told The Blast.
The statement continued: “It must be said that Amber is surprised and disappointed that The Oprah Winfrey Network not once has demonstrated to Amber any desire to inquire into her allegations in light of the bigger picture at hand, specifically the courage it takes for any victim of abuse and theft to shine light upon the truth.”
Salim has yet to comment on the Love Is ___ cancellation or any of Brenner’s claims.