Ava DuVernay wanted a change of pace. Her last television series, Netflix’s acclaimed “When They See Us,” was widely celebrated and made her a significant name in prestige television, but DuVernay channeled her creative energy into more uplifting subject matter in the new year. That desire led to “Cherish the Day,” her upcoming romantic drama for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
“I just needed a break from history and wanted to do something lovely and light,” DuVernay said during the show’s Television Critics Association panel Thursday morning. “I’m a big sucker for love stories, and growing up I loved ‘West Side Story’ to ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and really craved the black romantic endeavor, which I saw less of. […] I really longed to see that kind of black love story on television.”
DuVernay discussed the upcoming series with stars Xosha Roquemore, Alano Miller, and Cicely Tyson during the panel. “Cherish the Day” centers on the relationship between Gently James (Roquemore) and Evan Fisher (Miller), with each installment of the eight-episode anthology focusing on key days in the couple’s lives. The show champions love, but its trailer, which was released a few hours before the TCA panel, makes clear that its subjects’ differing backgrounds will put their relationship to the test.
DuVernay noted that “Cherish the Day” is less about subverting negative stereotypes associated with African Americans in entertainment and is more about championing a love story where its two subjects happen to be black.
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The discussion led to Tyson sharing an anecdote where a journalist who recently interviewed her allegedly said they couldn’t believe the show’s black characters could be in love. The 95-year-old actress said she composed herself after several minutes and told the journalist that such a statement indicated they saw black people as less than human. DuVernay followed up on Tyson’s anecdote by stressing that the relatable love story of “Cherish the Day” and its fully-fleshed out characters made it a particularly relevant show.
Along with fellow executive producers Oprah Winfrey, Paul Garnes, and Tanya Hamilton, “Cherish the Day” marks DuVernay’s second project for OWN; she also writes, directs, and executive produces “Queen Sugar,” which OWN renewed for a fifth season last September. DuVernay also created, directed, and co-wrote the aforementioned “When They See Us” last year, which won two Emmys in 2019.
“Cherish the Day” will premiere over two nights, February 11 (at 10 p.m. ET) and February 12 (at 8 p.m. ET), with subsequent episodes airing every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
Watch the new “Cherish the Day” trailer below: