Hello, My Age Is: 51
Grey Hair Is Gorgeous, Full Stop
Mara Brock Akil |
CEO of story27 productions, TV producer, and screenwriter
The glowy-skinned woman behind cultural hits like Being Mary Jane and Girlfriends looks at getting older as something to celebrate. “Aging,” says Mara Brock Akil, the CEO of story27 productions at Netflix, “is an opportunity for another breath.” The LA-based mom of two’s brain is constantly crackling as she creates more binge-worthy series and movies at her recently launched company, which emphasizes inclusive content. Though her schedule can be a beast, it also informs how youthful she feels and looks. “This is my dream job,” she says. “I’m blessed to be able to tell stories of humanity in an entertaining way. I can testify that if you find what you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life. My job makes me smile every day—and isn’t that the best face of aging, a genuine smile?”
Akil doesn’t buy into dusty stereotypes about what’s supposedly old or young. Her hair—which, along with her impossibly smooth skin, stops you in your tracks—is beautifully abundant and softly striated with grey, a feature that shouldn’t warrant attention but still does. “When I decided to go grey, the first thing I did was give myself permission to get over ‘going grey’ and move on with my life,” she says. “Embracing it not only saved me time and money; it opened up a new portal of exploration.”
Journaling before bed and writing personal essays on her platform In the Land of Mara—there’s one called “Writing Horny,” about her creative process—are other ways Akil keeps exploring. She also intermittent fasts and swears by a few powerful skin-care secrets, including a glycolic acid peel for major glow and a firming cream with clinical results, in place of reaching for makeup every day to feel comfortable and powerful in her own skin. “I’m intentional about taking care of myself,” she says.
Have an affair—with sleep
I have a deep love affair with sleep—that’s the real trick. I also drink lots of water and green tea, don’t wear makeup every day, and have a simple skin-care routine of quality products.
Love your skin care
I honestly don’t know which of these does the heavy lifting of making me look fabulous. They’re like a cheerleading pyramid: I don’t want any one of them to drop out. I welcome all the support.
This face oil is the fountain of youth—I literally glow when I have it on, and I adore the scent.goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
I love this face cream so much; I lose myself in massaging all this goodness into my face and décolletage. It’s my favorite part of my nighttime ritual.goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream goop, $98/$86 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
This glow peel—who knew I could turn 30 overnight?goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel goop, $125/ $112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
My lips love this little joy that I apply throughout the day; it’s especially good during the dry winter in LA.goop Beauty GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm goop, $20SHOP NOW
Use scent to slow down
I surround myself with flowers and candles because they’re not permanent—they force you into the present. Your brain and heart space slow down because you know what you’re experiencing won’t last. To live in the now is a joyful practice—there’s no aging, just beauty and memories locked in with scent.
Wake up your face by sculpting your brows
Since I went grey, a great brow really helps pull out my face. I must see Tonya Crooks regularly to tint and shape them.
Have fun with (and spend time on) grey
The way to keep my grey fresh, I’m figuring out, is to be in on new trends, so I call in the professionals. For protective styles, like braids and faux locs, I go to Marva Stokes, or Twy B for goddess locs. Working with Vernon François opened me up to accepting my hair—and made me fall in love with his products. And I see my girl Dawn Robertson for deep-conditioning treatments and my go-to ’70s-inspired wet set. I hunt down Kee for that California silk blowout. When it’s just me at home, though, it’s wash, condition, and go: topknot on day two or three, brush out and braid on day four, and a hat for day five.
Eat clean Monday through Friday
I intermittent fast, and as soon as I wake up, I drink lemon water to alkalize my system, then drink alkaline water from my favorite brand, Waiakea. I also take this daily detox—I really do feel badass as a result.
On my way to the office, I have a green tea or matcha latte with almond milk, but that’s it until around 1 p.m. when I usually have salmon over a lush and yummy salad from Mizlala. Dinner is a small portion of what my husband, Salim, or I have made the boys for dinner, and I stop eating by 8 or 9 p.m. But come Friday evening, I’m the Hungry Caterpillar: I eat everything I want. Sunday evening, it’s back to sensible eating. I usually bake a chicken with potatoes and carrots, plus broccolini, salad, and brown rice.
Mix up your workouts
I practice yoga twice a week with Kyona Beatty, weight-train two days a week with Louise Hazel, and take a tennis lesson—my new heart’s-desire joy—with Wkwesi Williams on Saturday mornings. And I sneak in a hike whenever I can—one of the perks of living in LA is our gorgeous hiking trails.
My role models are: Director Debbie Allen, because she’s figured out how to be a successful storyteller in this business, plus nurture a family and create a legacy with her dance school. My mother, Joan Fullmore, whose beauty is magnified by her generous spirit of service and devotion to God. And my sons, Yasin and Nasir. I think Salim and I have done extremely well in parenting them on a foundation of love and protection. I now learn from them what a healthy constitution looks like. Raising them allowed me to reparent myself and grow.
Figure out what brings you joy
I cook for my family while listening to music and drinking champagne, I do puzzles while Salim DJs, I get lost in museums and galleries, and I travel alone, which is my favorite. I went on an epic trip to Thailand and Laos before the pandemic, and I spend time in New York alone, too. I don’t give my days away when I’m there; they’re there for me to be a complete artist. It makes joining up with friends for dinner or a play or a concert or drinks even more divine. Morocco is next!