Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul on "Being Mary Jane," a new BET show about a cable news journalist. The show premiered as a 90-minute movie on Tuesday night (on July 2) and will return for eight episodes starting in January 2014. Along with the end of her latest romance — which fizzles after Mary Jane discovers that the man she's been hooking up with is actually married — Mary finds herself constantly burdened with family responsibilities, including an ailing mother, a perpetually broke brother, and a niece who keeps popping out babies. Through it all, Jane just wants some honest companionship. The twist? She realizes it may not be a man she needs, but instead a baby.
It seems like a romance comedy along the lines of Bridget Jones with more fashion and color put into the mix. One of the best parts of this series’ premiere centered around the interactions between Mary Jane and her producer Kara (Lisa Vidal). In the midst of more traditional family-based conflicts, Being Mary Jane features an African-American woman and a Latina discussing the politics of producing stories about rape in Zimbabwe and the cultural perceptions about women’s skin tones. It was incredibly material to watch in a rom-com made for television.
Union called her role as a news anchor “sort of a secret dream come true.” She said she has always been fascinated with the news, reading three newspapers a day when she was growing up.
In preparation for “Being Mary Jane,” Union studied journalist Soledad O’Brien, host of CNN’s documentary series “Black in America.”
“Her series took up a lot of space on my DVR,” Union said. “I love how (O’Brien) delivers information. There’s a news anchor’s cadence that’s different from an actor’s cadence. If you do it wrong, you can come off cold or disconnected to the subject. I’ve been able to grow with the character in that manner.”
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