Executively produced by Will Packer and Will Packer Media, the television show Bigger is aiming to normalize the Black experience during your late 20’s to mid-’30s while we endure waves of change in relationships, careers, and personal growth. The comedy, which premiered on BET+ in January and is now in its second season, follows the life of a single Black woman, Layne Roberts, and her crew of friends who explore the nuances of a “bigger” and better life.
“Bigger is inspired by my own life,” Marye told For(bes) The Culture. “I was inspired to move to Los Angeles in my 30s from corporate America and public relations.” Packer, who has produced Night School, The Photograph, What Men Want and Little, is no stranger to creating content that puts a spotlight on Black culture. This will be the first television series produced by him that will air on broadcast television.
For(bes) The Culture spoke with Packer and Marye about the original series, the importance of Black men supporting Black women in the industry, and how to accurately depict the experiences of young Black adults on television.
For(bes) The Culture: Felischa, tell me about Bigger and its creative conception.
Felischa Marye: Bigger is a friend’s comedy, but I call it a modern-day sexy friends’ comedy. It follows a single Black woman living in Atlanta with her friends. Season one is basically about her dealing with the threat of marrying someone who’s perfect on paper, her boyfriend, who’s a doctor. When an acquaintance from college passes away, the whole friend group is asking, ‘Is there bigger and better? Life can be short and we’re in our 30s now.’ That really drives the main character, Layne, to look at her personal life as well as her professional life and ask herself if there’s bigger and better or is this it. For Layne, that struggle is between what’s safe and what’s exciting.
For(bes) The Culture: Will, what initially attracted you to the project?
Will Packer: It’s hard to point to a contemporary example that really nails that very recent post-collegiate crew love, that squad,, and that ensemble. I’m a big fan of such shows back in the day like Living Single and Girlfriends, and I thought that Felischa did an excellent job capturing the authenticity of a group like this.
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For(bes) The Culture: As a creator and showrunner, how does representation matter to you behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera?
Marye: This is a very woman-leaning show. I couldn’t make a show without the involvement of smart women who’ve lived lives and are willing to share their stories in the writers’ room and share their vision and talent while shooting and directing. We had Black female directors and a mix of Black directors during season one. We shoot these shows in Atlanta and we talk about the Black experience but it really takes real experience to represent that authentically and I think we’re able to do that in season one.
There’s diversity talked about throughout the industry and sometimes that can mean throwing a Black face on screen and saying we’ve checked a box. It can be dangerous to have non-Black people representing Black experiences. It’s super important for us to have ownership of our own stories.
For(bes) The Culture: Will, why is it important for you as a Black male to amplify the work of a Black woman?
Packer: If you want to know where somebody’s priorities are and you want to know what’s important to them, look at where they spend their money—period. I don’t care what they say, what they tweet, or what Facebook group they’re a member of, look at where they spend their money. At the end of the day, if you’re not putting your money behind voices that you want to amplify, then it’s not that important to you to amplify those voices. For me, it’s twofold. Number one, it’s not just the right thing to do but it’s the smart business thing to do. There are a lot of my peers and contemporaries who are not hiring and taking advantage of the amazing Black talent that’s out there. I’m happy to do that and they are so good that they give me a leg up. I’m happy to be part of hiring somebody like Felischa Marye because she’s good and deserves the job.
So many of my projects have been supported in a really big way by Black women consumers and that’s huge. That is not lost on me. I feel like I would be remiss if I wasn’t paying that back and paying it forward. I don’t care if it’s Think Like A Man, Girls Trip or even No Good Deed or Obsessed, Black women are ones who have come out and shown out for those projects to say, ‘we want to see ourselves in these types of characters and images.’