With her legal counsel present, Amber Dixon Brenner spoke with Deadline about her accusations and lawsuit filed against executive producer, screenwriter, and showrunner Salim Akil.
“I got to a point where I could no longer live with myself and be the mother I wanted to be, be the Amber I always dreamed of being if I tolerated the history of the abuse,” Brenner said.
In late November, the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps actress alleged she was in a physically and sexually abusive relationship with Akil for the last 10 years. In response, a lawyer for Akil called the allegations “totally untrue.” Yet, on Dec. 19 OWN canceled the show shortly after it was renewed for its second season.
Among the many harrowing accusations Brenner leveled against Akil, she alleges the premise for Love Is was taken from her 2015 screenplay Luv & Perversity in the East Village.
Deadline inquired as to why she waited almost a month in between filing her federal lawsuit and her copyright infringement claims. She said she wanted to give Salim and Mara time to acknowledge her accusations.
“If you love someone you keep trying to give them chance after chance and then you realize you don’t love me. You’re not sorry. You’re not coming to me in a private manner or to my lawyer wanting to apologize. I wanted an apology and I wanted it acknowledged that he was abusive.”
Brenner also accused the Black Lightning showrunner of believing he was above reproach. “When I realized, ‘Oh, you don’t really don’t care.’ You know what, this is my turn to hold you accountable because Salim thought he was above accountability, as did Mara. So that is when I pulled the trigger on the state because it was also not just for the abuse. It was for theft of idea, which plays into copyright, absolutely.”
The screenwriter also made it clear Mara was aware of Salim’s affair, but said another reason she came forward is because of what she perceived to be Mara’s hypocrisy.
“It started when Mara was on the cover of some magazine and she stood along with other women in the industry talking about #MeToo or Time’s Up. I read it and I was appalled and I felt disregarded and that the issues from the relationship that in the past I had tried to resolve or discuss regarding violence she was very silent about. Like not responding to texts earlier on in the relationship. “
When finally asked how she felt when OWN canceled the show, Brenner called the move “the right thing.”
“I did feel a sense of this is the right thing, this is correct response from the OWN network. This is a correct response to Salim and Mara and it felt like a bit of an acknowledgment of what I had gone through.”