You may recognize Will Catlett from web series like “That Guy”, “Giants”, or the t.v. series “Black Lightening” and “Insecure”. The Virginia-born actor has teamed up with writer and director Mara Brock Akil under Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network for the ‘Love Is’. The t.v. series follows a young Mara Brock Akil, played by Michele Weaver, and a young Salim Akil, played by Catlett, as they learn to balance working and living in L.A. while navigating an intoxicating yet complex relationship.
Catlett’s character calls for a very serious and stern disposition, however, Catlett is a very friendly extrovert who speaks freely and confidently about his life and experiences. In our candid interview, we spoke on the dynamics of black love, what he loves about his character, and what it’s like to work with some of the most distinguished black women in Hollywood.
Q: The 90’s setting on the show is super cool. Dating in that era has definitely changed since then. In your opinion what has changed?
A: I think everything’s changed. Overall I think we’ve lost a sense of authenticity and the 90’s had that. You would tell someone if you were in love with them or dealing with some type of pain in your life, but that’s gone. Love was a thing then, music played a big part in that too. I think in the early 2000’s we lost it.
Q: What do you think Millennials and Gen Z can learn from Nuri and Yasir’s story?
A: They can learn that love is achievable and it exist because you get to see a person go through it. You also know that they made it. What I love about my particular character is that it dissolves the stereotype that in order for a man to contribute to your life he has to check off all of the things on your list. It teaches people to judge on one’s character as opposed to who they are on paper.
Q: What are your favorite things about the characters?
A: My least favorite thing is that the public can easily see them as being broke young people. However, mentally, they aren’t broke. What I loved about Yasir in particular is that all he needed was an opportunity to prove what he can do. Salim, who the character is based on, all he needed was an opportunity. Me, all I needed was an opportunity.
What I liked about Nuri is that she’s bubbly and always making the best out of every situation.
Q: Do you relate to Yasir?
A: Of course, cause all he needed was an opportunity and all I needed was an opportunity. I relate to that.
Q: You often play the young involved in complex relationships. How do you think these stories reflect black male hood in modern times?
A: I believe what this story would do is humanize them. We are vurnarable, sensitive, and passionate. Hopefully that can help a young man and others see themselves in my character.
Q: What is it like to work with Mara Brock Akil and Oprah?
A: In that conversation not only am I meeting Oprah, I’m meeting a number of our ancestors. To have the freedom to be with these powerhouse women is amazing. They support young creatives and I appreciate that. They allow open dialogue and provide and incredible work experience. I look at Mara like a mentor and a big sister. I honor her and I honor Oprah because we have decided to partner together to put this energy into the world and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m glad that they selected me to help spearhead that vision.
Q: Finish this statement. Love Is_____?
A: You can’t put nothing after it. It’s like what Moses told God, “Who should I say you are? I said I am, that I am.” Love just exist. Love is.