In the midst of reclaiming a retelling of “black love” aimed to inspire “relationship goals” urges from its audience, Love Is executive producer Salim Akil comes under fire for recent sexual allegations.
Actor Amber Dixon Brenner filed a complaint on November 20 accusing the Black Lightning executive producer of “nonconsensual assault and battery” over a continuous time period. Brenner claims she and Akil experienced a tumultuous love affair for over a decade until 2017, which would be during his ongoing marriage to co-executive producer Mara Brock Akil.
In addition to several general claims of sexual and physical assault, Brenner specifically alleged two particularly grotesque incidents in her lawsuits, detailing an incident in which Akil forced her to perform oral sex on him while he urinated in her mouth and another in which he forced her to lick the wall in a parking lot.
“[Dixon Brenner] believed that she loved Akil,” states the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. “She also looked up to him as a prominent motion picture television director in some of the same entertainment circles where [she] socialized. Akil likewise would at times dangle potential acting roles and professional collaborations before [her].”
Akil’s team recently released a statement denying Brenner’s “deeply upsetting” allegations.
“These allegations are deeply upsetting—but they are also totally untrue,” said Akil’s attorney Stephen D. Barnes in a statement to Deadline on Sunday. “We will defend Salim to the fullest against the false and offensive claims that a woman with whom he had a past relationship has included in multiple unsubstantiated lawsuits. Salim looks forward to clearing his name and to being able to focus on his work and his family.” Barnes is an attorney at Barnes, Morris, Klein, & Yorn.
On Monday, Variety confirmed Warner Bros. TV has launched an investigation on the matter.
Additionally, Brenner accuses Akil of breach of contract, claiming he reused a screenplay of hers for two different projects, including Love Is. The actor claims she pitched a 2016 screenplay entitled “Luv & Perversity in the East Village,” based on their own relationship, of which Akil later allegedly inserted components into ABC’s Documenting Love and the recent OWN drama. Brenner is suing the Akils and the OWN network for copyright infringement. The CW and OWN have not yet responded to said allegations, but defendants have until December 28 to formally respond.
Serving as the OWN Network’s first romantic drama, Love Is documents the love story of young Yasir (Will Catlett) and Nuri (Michele Weaver) as they navigate their opposite worlds. The story was purportedly inspired by the Akils’ own love story and a second season was announced for the drama back in July.