Michele Weaver: Faith and Fame

Before becoming the lead in OWN’s new TV show Love Is___, Michele Weaver came from humble beginnings. She originally planned to attend a “traditional” form of college but then, at the last minute, Weaver decided to apply to performing arts schools. She ended up attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where she studied theater.

She later appeared on television shows such as Switched at Birth, and she had a role in the film 2 Lava 2 Lantula. Although Weaver has performed in other acting roles, the success of Love Is___ is new to her. Fans of all ages are tuning into the show to keep up with the compelling love story of “Nuri” and “Yasir.” But all of the praise for the show isn’t just about the 90’s nostalgia it brings, or the passion between the couple, it’s also about the leading lady, Michele Weaver and her personal journey through the acting world. “I prayed to be on a show like this…When you have a good show it becomes a mirror,” said Weaver, in an interview with her co-star Will Catlet for Build Series NYC.

Mara Brock Akil, one half of a film world power couple and the creator of Love Is___, often gets asked how she was able to manage both a flourishing career, and a marriage for over 19 years to someone who works in the same demanding field. Her response to this was the creation of Love Is___. “I said ain’t nobody got time to write a book so I said, maybe I could write a show,” said Akil on the Wendy Williams show.

This turned out to be quite a treat for us because we are getting an inside look into the couple’s trials and tribulations by watching the series. When Weaver was asked to describe her character, she states that Nuri is “a woman who has a lot of ideas and is constantly being silenced. She has a lot of ambitions and she believes ‘if they can have it I can have it to’ and so you get to see her go after what she sees is hers.” Before getting cast as “Nuri,” on Love Is____, she worked on other projects like the film Nighthawks, and she appeared in theater, film and television productions, as well as commercials, but she wasn’t getting the multitude of recognition and success that she is seeing now with those projects.

“It’s hard to believe that just nine months ago I was working full time as a server.” She says in the caption of an inspirational Instagram post, “Multiple actors I auditioned with and acted with in film and TV would somehow always get sat in my section.” she goes on to say that although she was uncomfortable being asked about how acting was going for her, she knew that God was teaching her “humility and patience.” Through it all she congratulated her former coworkers all while struggling to pay rent and almost, but not, booking a show.

Going into the audition for Love Is___, she knew that the premise of the show was based on the Akil’s love story. However, she purposely didn’t do thorough research on Mara because she didn’t want to imitate her, she wanted to connect with the character.

“I read the script and I just connected so much with who “Nuri” was and like where she was in her life because that’s where I’m at in my life… And so I just went with that. I just went with kind of my gut and I just wanted to have fun.” She goes on to say that she’s auditioned many times for different roles that she didn’t get and so she was comfortable with the casting director which had become a familiar face to her. By going into the audition being authentically herself and having fun, Weaver believes that is what landed her the role of “Nuri.” “That’s what made me be able to become “Nuri” because it wasn’t about reaching a result. It was about the  truth and being authentic with what I had on the page.”

In an interview on WBLS Mara praises both Weaver and her co-star Will for their work on the show. “I’m really proud of you guys. I’m really proud because the emotional range that you’re going to see on the show from the whole arch of our courtships is a lot. They’re bringing it on so many levels and I’m so proud to have them tell the story.” Before getting on the show together, Michele and Will actually knew each other “for at least five years” before getting cast together in the show. “We never hung out but we knew of each other, knew each other’s characters, and followed each other’s careers,” Michele said. She thought Will to be the perfect fit for Yasir and was elated to see him at the chemistry read.

“We hang in the same circles and attend the same church,” Weaver said. The church she is referring to is Revelation Church which she has attended for the last 5 years. Before and after her success on the show, she has turned to them in her times of anxiety, depression, and tribulations. “Anxiety and depression tell us we are not enough and we are alone. The weight will silence our voice and keep us in bed. We were always enough and never alone! I know I am right where I am supposed to be.” Michele says in an Instagram post as a testimony that there is a light at the end of the tunnel through dark times. Her faith in God is what helped carry her through the struggles of not booking shows, and the anxiety that came to her after landing a lead role on Love Is____. “Every little step counts! Trust me, I say this with experience… God’s timing is perfect!”

-Mo Mohamed