Gabrielle Union of BET’s “Being Mary Jane”

*Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s “Being Mary Jane,” starring Gabrielle Union as a single career woman, will open the 16th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival on Sept. 20 in New York ahead of its 2013 bow on BET.

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Formerly titled “Single Black Female,” the show stars Union as Mary Jane Paul, a successful TV news anchor who is still single and whose large extended family does not share her career ambitions. Omari Hardwick plays Union’s love interest.

The cast also includes Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Richard Brooks, B.J. Britt, Raven Goodwin, Aaron D. Spears, Richard Roundtree, Robin Lee, Latarsha Rose, Tika Sumpter and Stephen Bishop.

Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil

As previously reported, “Being Mary Jane” will serve as a backdoor pilot for what will be BET’s first original drama. It is the Akils’ second series for BET after half-hour comedy “The Game,” which broke ratings records at the network.

The Akils, who also produced Whitney Houston’s final film “Sparkle” (Mara Brock Akil wrote the script and Salim Akil directed), have a wide-ranging production deal with BET.

Urbanworld takes place September 19-23 at AMC 34th Street in Manhattan. Schedule and ticket information can be found at www.urbanworld.org.