By Sandra Varner
A riveting collection of relationship chronicles will have you tuning in every Friday night to learn love lessons from celebrities and everyday people on “Black Love.” OWN’s popular series, now in its fifth season, takes viewers inside the joys and challenges of married couples. Co-creators Codie and Tommy Oliver – husband-and-wife filmmakers – have served up a bounty of romantic perspectives from the Black community. “Black Love” was ranked No. 1 in its time slot across all cable with African American women ages 25-54.
I am a true fan and have been since its inception because I am enamored by couples who find each other and maintain a love relationship. As a child of divorced parents, it would have been wonderful to have had this show available to my parents as a useful tool for them to work through their marital problems. I feel this way because “Black Love,” in its revealing conversational style, takes us deep into each couple’s ups and downs, candid conversations and how they find common ground.
Black Love showcases celebrity couples, but also relatable, everyday people. The discussion of their lives makes them “real to us” and as such, Black Love is unique unto itself. I don’t know that there is another show like it in TV land.
Season-five five cast members Keith David and his wife of 20 years, Dionne Lea Williams, describe their relationship:
“We protect our marriage, as much as we can, from the scrutiny of outsiders — we avoid negative feedback because we’re trying to do something positive for ourselves, for our family, and for younger couples who need to see longevity in marriage,” Dionne said.
Keith added, “It’s also about acceptance of each other and the things that make you you. Sure, there are little annoyances but are you going to nitpick all the time? Are you going to pick each other apart over the little things? The answer is, ‘No. It’s about acceptance.’”
They said COVID-19 presented a new set of challenges — such as both being in their Sherman Oaks home for extended periods.
Keith, a Harlem native, describes himself as a workaholic who spent most of the last 15 years away from home. The pandemic, he says, has taught them that they can be a constant presence to each other without wearing out the other’s nerves. “We’re still talking to each other,” he says. “That’s a great gift
“The effect of this pandemic continues to be a kind of forced spiritual retreat. It didn’t force me, but it gave me the opportunity to get in touch with spirit in a way that I’ve always wanted to. And, it has definitely been a test that we’ve come through rather nicely. I deeply appreciate my wife, what she does and how she does it.”
Meanwhile, Milwaukee native Dionne had to adjust to Keith’s “large personality” as a constant counter to her more reserved nature.
“He’s a star and used to people doing everything for him. When he’s home, I expect him to help out around the house,” she says. “He’s also fearless and has taught me to open up and try many things. Because of him, I’ve tried zip lining, parasailing, jet skiing…I took horseback riding classes because he likes to ride.
“Keith has inspired me to move beyond my comfort zone and to be adventurous. He reminds me often that this is the only life you get. Because of him I have become more of a lover of life, a little less restrained, although I am still a little more conservative in the relationship.”
They confess that their three children help to balance the family household dynamics. “They keep us accountable and we are dedicated to keeping our family together,” which person said this?
“Black Love” airs at 10 p.m. Fridays on OWN. Check local listings for channel details.