“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me,” quoted by Ayn Rand used in the beginning of season three episode five.
This quote was exactly how Mary Jane Paul was personified and displayed on BET’s weekly series Being Mary Jane. The series debuted as a 90 minute movie on the network in 2013 and due to its success, flourished to last for four successful seasons.
The BET network decided to terminate the show that has said to been rated number one and conclude it with a movie to premier in 2018. Mary Jane has been a mentor to women in media, someone to relate to finding the perfect relationship, and an overall learning experience to women for the last four years. She wasn’t just a character to us who want to obtain a career in media and saying good-bye feels like a break-up that you’re just holding on by its last threads.
Mara Brock Akil has created this multidimensional character within Gabrielle Union that has displayed what life is like to be a black woman who craves to climb the hierarchy of the media industry as she balances her very regular life of dysfunctional family relationships as well as chasing the desire to want to be loved.
Watching this woman explore life through the amazing story-telling, the show delivered what seemed to be a blueprint to assist with my career. It touched basis with everything that I wondered about within the media rim.
Interning at a news station for the first time in 2016 had me shook. I was the only black female intern among very few black faces in the building. Walking through that place day to day, the culture was definitely something to not only get use to but to learn. Everyday is different and everything is fast paced and most days people don’t even have time to help or teach you. Everyone is uptight and with my personality, it was draining feeling like I didn’t fit in. Then I realized this is the very point that Pauletta Patterson dealt with in her everyday life.
Pauletta Patterson is the family woman, the woman that struggles with daily personal struggles, and the woman that craves real love; while Mary Jane Paul is this counter personality that is a serious career driven woman who’s passionate about the culture and moving it forward. Seeing her juggle and display two extremes while delivering her best is what motivated me and demonstrated that sometimes you have to separate the two.
Navigating my way through the media industry while interning and going to school sometimes I felt like I was limited to fitting into this box. I can’t be too this or too that. I felt that I couldn’t be completely me and I have to have this straight line career. In this phase I had the feeling that I had live this cookie cutter life and be restricted to one thing in my career. At times I had the feeling that I had to suppress what was important to me because it wasn’t enough.
Seeing Mary Jane stay pressed about real life issues that were important to her motivated me to keep being who I wanted to be in media. Having her own show, Talk Back, she was extremely passionate about touching subjects dealing with black women and especially anything dealing with the black community. Seeing her maneuver through the news room with only having support from her producer Kara and not too many others made me realize what’s important.
The message is important and not sometimes it is not just about the numbers and the clicks. She always (tried) to stand up for what was right whether her team was big or small. Seeing a black female journalist fight for her perspectives to be valued is what connected me to the show. I grew appreciation for her drive and determination in such an underrated field of work. In my opinion there are so many shows on TV that shows life as a lawyer, or in the medical field, but not about media or journalism. Being Mary Jane did that.
We saw her go through daily situations of not feeling enough and working up the ladder in the work place. We saw her fight for her place against another black woman and standing up to her news directer in daily meetings. Searching for relevant news stories, balancing life as a public figure, and producing great content really engaged me into the show for the four seasons run.
Seeing Being Mary Jane being cancelled leaves an unfinished business type of emotion as I’m just getting started in my career. Besides the reckless relationship behavior, unstable family members, and sometimes being an emotional wreck, Mary Jane Paul was the journalist that I now see in myself.
To Every Fan of Being Mary Jane, We have all worked so tirelessly to bring you a show that we could be proud to be a part of. Mary Jane has become my favorite character. We've screwed up together, laughed together, evolved together, and raised hell together. I love all her imperfections, and through playing her I became more forgiving of others who are imperfect and on the journey of self discovery and improvement. We watched her struggle with relationships with both men and women, and we watched her finally start to get her shit together. But the journey isn't over yet. We, as a Being Mary Jane family, cannot wait to bring you this final 2 hour series finale movie that will answer all your questions about each and every character. More than anything, however, we want to thank you with every fiber of our being for faithfully watching the show and supporting our work… from the actors, writers, producers, directors and enormous crew over the years, we are humbled and we remain grateful. Thank you!