When Film Producer, Codie Oliver, 33, first laid eyes on her future husband, Tommy, she knew that he was someone special. But it took the hustling film director a little while longer than she’d hoped for him to recognize that she was the one he was meant to share his life with.
“I got my business card and I approached him and said, ‘Hey I work with Cannon (the camera company) and if you are interested in talking about equipment in L.A., feel free to reach out’ and then gave him my card and he still chatted with me about his movie and that was it,” Codie said as she laughed about the memory.
This was almost three years ago. The two were at a film festival, and Oliver said his lack of “focus” was mostly due to being on a mission to promote his work.
“I was preoccupied with other stuff,” the 33-year-old 1982 director said matter-of-factly. “She’s very pretty, but I just wasn’t really thinking about anything at all.”
But thanks to Codie’s persistence, the two ended up an item soon enough.
“We kept running into each other and I said, ‘How long are you here at the festival? We don’t work during the day if you wanted to chat,’” Codie recalled. “And he said, ‘Are you hitting on me?’ I was mortified because that’s not my M-O, but obviously, I was being you know forward.”
It wasn’t long before Tommy realized who he had met. In fact, the two eventually would go on to have lunch, dinner and spend the next few days together.
“The next day [of the festival] we hung out until 5 in the morning and we had lunch that following day, and I got back to L.A. and we hung out that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Tommy said. “I called up at least five people and told them, “Unless something goes terribly wrong, I am marrying this woman.”
Six months later, the two were engaged.
“The thought that I had at the time was, ‘There’s no doing better than this,’” Tommy stated. “In front of 120 people I proposed, we got married 11 months after that and the following year, our little kiddo showed up.”
Everyone’s love story doesn’t pan out how Tommy and Codie’s did. For many, the dream of a “happily ever after” long dies before they even say, “I do.” To a lot of people, love and marriage is simply a fairytale.
Although we’re all familiar with the popular narrative of “happily ever after,” there’s a lot more that comes with love and marriage. And through a series of narratives from couples who have weathered the storm, the pair is determined to detail just what experiencing life with a spouse is about with their new OWN docuseries, Black Love.
“My parents are divorced and Tommy never saw his parents together. When you grow up not seeing the example, you don’t really know how to do it,” Codie explained. “Anything else there’s a playbook. You can go to school to be a doctor and to be anything you want to be. Where do you learn how to be a partner?”
This past Saturday, the creators decided to present real-life stories of love, marriage and keeping it all together. They highlighted very candid—sometimes cringe-worthy even—conversations from some of the world’s most famous celebrities who decided to bravely utter the words, “I do.”
“What’s funny is everybody’s reasons are different [for getting married], and that’s just the reality of it,” said Codie. “Your ‘why’ is different from person to person, but the ‘how’ is because you know you have to work at it.”
Pulling back the curtains on how the road to marriage begins, Black Love showed viewers to the very beginning of how couples like Oscar Award-winning Actress, Viola Davis, and her husband, Julius Tennon met, to why they choose to stay.
“Just like you get up every morning …6 a.m., 7 a.m. to go to the gym, cuz you know you got that little pooch on your stomach, even though you don’t want to get up (laughs), you gotta go for it,” Davis detailed in a clip of the series.
The couple is one of many who bravely sat down with series producers to bare it all regarding their marriage.
“I wanted to participate in the series because I wanted to showcase positive marriages,” Actress, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, who has been married to Actor, Corey Hardrict for 9 years, told EBONY. “Especially being in the entertainment business, you only hear the negative stories.”
Famed Actor and Comedian Chris Spencer, along with his wife, Vanessa, also participated in the film series. The couple hopes to inspire those to embrace marriage as a positive, transformative enhancement to life.
“We hope our love story reminds African-Americans that love and marriage are not easy,” said the couple. “[…] do not be afraid of marriage. It is never going to be fairytale like, BUT it can be beautiful and as perfectly imperfect as you make it!”
Tommy and Codie birthed Black Love as a result of seeing negative media depictions, news articles and the overall sentiment that Black love is more difficult to attain. But neither Tommy nor his wife believe the hype.
“I didn’t grow up with a regular nuclear family and it was something I always wanted,” he reflected. “I always wanted to be a dad. I was a hopeless romantic as a kid as well, and it’s something that matters to me.”