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"Love Is..." Actor Will Catlett Talks God's Timing & The Power Of A Black Woman's Love

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Graciously entering his third interview of the day, Will Catlett is warm and inviting in his greeting. Courteously assuring me that this interview would be the best one of his day, our conversation immediately took off on the heels of positivity.


You see, Will Catlett gives off the kind of vibes that make you feel as if you've known him for years instead of mere minutes. His demeanor is one that is laced with intentionality and authenticity. You can feel the undertones of gratitude, empathy, and awareness in his voice that speaks to the fact that he understands the present moment is not one that should be taken lightly.

And why would it? Just the night before, he had met Oprah for the first time in his life. But it was a year ago that Catlett questioned whether or not his moment and the dream inside of him would ever come to fruition.

"I remember sitting on the floor in my apartment having a conversation with the Lord. I was essentially asking Him to help me stay the course. You can look at other people's journey for inspiration, but you can't compare yourself. The time that you take your eyes off your path, you get out of alignment."

IMDB

"The time that you take your eyes off your path, you get out of alignment."

"So I kept saying 'I know what's in me, I know you didn't give me these dreams for nothing.' But you know, we as actors and artists and people, we go through things and complaining is one the first things that'll come up. But that can lead you into this downward spiral and I didn't want that. There's no honor in that."

It would then be that continuous dedication towards honoring the process that would eventually lead him into landing the lead role of Yasir on OWN's highly anticipated show Love Is__, set to make its debut this June.

Will with Oprah and 'Love Is...' co-star Michele WeaverGetty Images

It's a show inspired by the true love story of Salim and Mara Brock Akil, creators behind classic shows like Girlfriends, Being Mary Jane, and as of late Black Lightning, the latter of which Will was also a part of. "I waited on that opportunity, I just literally laid there in it and waited. And when it came with Salim and Black Lightning, I went into it clearly ready to add onto what they were already doing. I think that's the drawing line between Salim and myself, and even as Yasir on Love Is__. We all just needed that one shot. And when we got it, we never wanted to look back."

Now, with this new venture, Catlett was granted the opportunity to work with both Salim and his wife, not only to help paint a portrait of their love story onscreen, but to unknowingly improve the lens in which he viewed his own as well. "You know, going through this process of filming Love Is__ specifically, it made me aware of some things that I thought I had dealt with. Character things that I thought I had gotten past, it was like, 'Well no, we have to dig deeper into that.' And I think when you try to put love in the mix and showcase that, it's always going to teach you about you. Love will always teach you about you. But I wouldn't have never came to those conclusions had I not gotten this opportunity."

Trokon

"Love will always teach you about you."

And an opportunity, it seems, was all he needed. However, when I asked about his own personal love story with his wife RonDi Luz, he made it abundantly clear that she played a major role in his success as well. Much like Mara Brock and Salim Akil, Catlett's own ascension to bigger and better things was directly related to having a good woman, the right woman by his side.

"A lot of things took off for me when I got with my wife. And sometimes men miss that point that we can't get past a certain level because we're not with the right woman. She can get into places that we could never get into, she can pray into things that we could never get to because she is that side. She is that part of God that you need. You know, sometimes we as men think we have to have it all together, like we have to have all our ducks in a row before we approach a woman. But we forget what the raw essence of a woman is, she's a multiplier. We can't get to the next level as a man without linking up to that part of ourselves and that woman is the missing part."

"We forget what the raw essence of a woman is, she's a multiplier. We can't get to the next level as a man without linking up to that part of ourselves."

And that essentially is what love is. Two kindred spirits recognizing, reverencing, and respecting the innate abilities, character traits, strengths, weaknesses, and everything else in between. That is what makes life worth living.

To have love and to give love is one of the greatest privileges we as human beings could ever possess. The journey to not only have love but finding it is one that's littered with missed chances, leaps of faith, and boundless opportunities. But above all else, it is a journey paved for you and you only. It's a road map to which only you have the compass to.

IMDB

And according to Will Catlett, it's a path to reconnection, not just to others but to the very heart of who we are as a people. "Love is— a joint effort. Love is a vibration, love doesn't care about rules, and we need to see that love, that Black Love. We do so much giving out, we love everybody else without loving ourselves first. We build up other communities instead of building ours first. People seeing black love on television, that's a good vibration. We need this love to get back to the realness of us and then we can venture out and hug and love on everybody else."

For more Will, follow him on Instagram.

Featured image via Will Catlett/IMDB

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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Featured image by Getty Images

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