Gabrielle Union will be coming to BET. The actress has been tapped for the lead role in the network’s hour-long pilot Single Black Female.
Created by husband-and-wife duo Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the series will focus on the work and social and family life of a Black woman (Union), who hosts a popular 24-hour cable news network.
The drama will be the first to fall under the production contract Akil Productions signed with BET back in May 2011. In addition to producing alongside his wife, who wrote the pilot, Salim (The Game, Jumping the Broom) will direct.
The Akil team is also behind the much-anticipated Sony movie Sparkle, which is set to debut this August. Sparkle is Whitney Houston‘s final on-screen performance.
Union will be taking it to the small screen as the star of a BET drama tentatively titled “Single Black Female.” The actress will play a network journalist whose pursuit of meatier stories puts her at odds with her employers’ desire for better ratings.
She has been offered pilots before, Union said, but was looking for just the right project.
“It was actually the first pilot I read, but because BET didn’t have a history of doing scripted dramas I was like ‘I don’t want to be the guinea pig,’” she said. “Then I met with Mara [Brock Akil] and Salim [Akil] and I fell in love with them.”
The Akils are the producers behind the successful film “Jumping the Broom,” and had worked with Whitney Houston on the forthcoming “Sparkle.” Union said that the trio actually met to discuss their project on the day Houston died, and the couple’s genuine grief over the loss of the superstar helped seal her desire to work with them.
“They actually showed emotion, and like they gave a damn about someone who had been a part of a production,” Union said. “And not just because of the work, but because they had watched her evolve on screen and had come to love her as a person. That said more to me about how they would handle me than anything.”