Created by married filmmakers Codie and Tommy Oliver, The NAACP Image Awards-nominated series over its run has featured the intimate stories of marriage and love from some of America’s favorite Black couples, including Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe, Grant Hill and Tamia, and Viola Davis and Julius Tennon.
Codie Oliver recently talked to Multichannel News about the series’ final season as well as the impact Black Love has had on the culture as well as her own relationship. Oliver also talks about future plans for the Black Love franchise in an edited version of the interview that appears below.
MCN: Is the final season of Black Love a bitter/sweet experience for the two of you?
Codie Oliver: Definitely. For seven years, we have filmed couples, just the two of us and them in the room, with the intention of making it as intimate as possible and for the conversations to be as transparent as possible. It has been logistically challenging as our family has grown and our businesses have grown but we’re excited about ending the series on a high note. It is bitter sweet especially for me because I love meeting incredible couples and sharing their stories through the docuseries, but I look forward to channeling that energy through the rest of our Black Love platforms.
MCN: What should viewers expect to see in the final season of "Black Love?
CO: We have some new love and parenting journeys that we’re very excited to share, that will create conversation and hopefully expand people’s view of unconditional love. We always do an homage to the couples in season during the finale, but we have some special moments celebrating the legacy couples as well. We aren’t going to lie, there were some tears while editing.
MCN: Do you feel that you've accomplished the goals that you set for the series?
CO: Absolutely. We set out to make sure that our community knows that we are worthy and deserving of love, but it is not without hard work and understanding the meaning of commitment. We have been touched countless times by people sharing the impact that Black Love has had on them, whether they are single, engaged, married, married for decades, our show has been able to open their eyes to their relationship and its possibilities in new ways.
MCN: What did you as a couple take away from having produced the series? Were there any major revelations and/or disappointments that you experienced in doing the show?
CO: We made a couple of observations having interviewed around 250 couples. One is that the commitment to being committed is what will see you through. It’s not revolutionary, but it is easy to get swallowed up by the ebbs and flows of a relationship when you don’t look at commitment in that way. Another thing is to always consider the 'why.' Your partner isn't perfect. You and they will make mistakes. But getting to the root of why something happened is the most worthwhile effort over thinking any one thing is insurmountable. Understanding why something happened helps diagnose and treat the underlying issues. We are the sum of all of our experiences, our past traumas, our baggage, our unexpressed expectations and sometimes that’s what's showing up in our relationship and course correction is needed.
MCN: What's next for the two of you?
CO: Tommy is running the production company he founded, called Confluential Films, and is a full-time producer, writer, director (and more). For me, Black Love is 365 days a year. We both run Black Love, Inc., but lead the team and oversee countless live and virtual events, custom video campaigns with brand partners, Black Love’s Podcast Network – I even host some of the podcasts, and I manage content for Black Love’s streaming platform, the Black Love+ App. We are committed to celebrating and affirming the Black community through the lens of love day in and day out.■
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.