Mara Brock Akil’s Nail Polish Collaboration Supports Writers Affected By the Strike


Photos: Courtesy of Jazmin Johnson.

Screenwriter and producer, Mara Brock Akil has a knack for making people feel seen. This is certainly present in the iconic shows she’s created and worked on from Moesha to Girlfriends. More recently, she’s uplifting writers in a whole new way, via her collaboration with nail polish brand, Orly. The collection’s net proceeds will benefit her non-profit organization, Writers’ Colony.

This idea felt like a no-brainer to Akil, who approached the brand directly. In addition to it being a collaboration that will positively uplift her industry, she’s always thinking about ways to be a more sustainable consumer. That said, Orly being a family-owned, Los Angeles-based company that produces locally, made them the perfect fit. Additionally, Akil is simply a big fan of nail polish. “As writers, we are looking at our hands all day. They are the first purveyor of our voices,” she tells ESSENCE. “It’s been rewarding to create something that recognizes the strength we possess in our hands while also encouraging us to reflect on the beauty of self-care.”

Mara Brock Akil’s Nail Polish Collaboration Supports Writers Affected By The Strike

And, not only is this signature nail trio for a great cause, they’re also ultra-chic. “Vintage Vanity” is a soft pink, inspired by Akil’s grandmother’s vanity. Meanwhile, “Mocha Memories” is a nod to the melanin in the characters she’s given voice to. Lastly, “Cloud Cover” is a summer white that represents a blank canvas. “It’s the ultimate starting point for inspired creation.” 

Speaking of new creations, could this be the beginning of more beauty collaborations for Akil? “I see myself doing ones that align with my brand and life’s mission,” she says. “I see beauty as a non-negotiable, and we’re often taught we don’t deserve nice things, or that beauty is a luxury,” Akil adds. “But I say it’s a necessity.”

Below, Akil speaks more about Writers’ Colony, self-care, and the changes she hopes to see in her industry. 

Mara Brock Akil’s Nail Polish Collaboration Supports Writers Affected By The Strike

ESSENCE: Tell us more about Writers’ Colony. Why was this important to you to start?

Mara Brock Akil: In a business that is so transactional, I was called to create a safe space for writers to write and belong to a community. I realized that many opportunities for burgeoning writers are rooted in transacting with the business side of the industry. I found there were a lack of vital spaces for writers to first get to know their own voices as artists. 

How have you been practicing self-care lately?

Akil: First thing in the morning, I drink lemon water and alkaline water. I follow up with a green tea or a matcha latte. I also integrate movement into my week through practicing yoga, weight training and tennis– which has become a new source of joy. 

What changes in your industry are you hoping to see come out of this period?

Akil: As the industry and world continue to shift and mold, I hope the value of truth in storytelling is centered. I want to see more stories centering those who are marginalized. And in 2023, there are still a lot of stories missing from the landscape of Black people that I want to continue to tell. I want to tell stories that highlight the complexities and challenges of our many human desires, not only the external hardships we face. 

What keeps you inspired, giving and motivated, even in difficult times?

Akil: I live by my ethos of lifting while I climb. My entire career was built by mentorship from writers who lifted me up. I know first hand how imperative it is for young writers to gain guidance and support from those who came before them. I truly believe that the next generation of writers will be the culture shifters to create lasting impact long after my pen hits the page. As I climb, and as Writers’ Colony alumni continue to climb, we all must lift up others so our stories can be heard and have lasting legacy. 

What’s next for you that you’re excited to share?

Akil: Once the strike ends and Hollywood sheds its old skin, I will return to writing. I am really excited about bringing my series FOREVER, a re-imagining of Judy Blume’s novel, to the screen. Building those characters has been a gift and I’m really looking forward to bringing them to life.

Mara Brock Akil’s Nail Polish Collaboration Supports Writers Affected By The Strike


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