Director/Producer Salim Akil Sued for Domestic Violence and Breach of Contract


A lawsuit filed by Amber Dixon Brenner on November 20, 2018, in California claims the actor had a years-long “physically and sexually abusive relationship” with Salim Akil, who has produced and directed episodes of BET’s The Game and Being Mary Jane, as well as the CW’s Black Lightning, and the 2012 film Sparkle. In addition to domestic violence, Brenner is suing Akil for breach of contract over a script she claims she wrote based on their relationship that Akil mined for other projects without proper credit.

Brenner’s complaint alleges she and Akil began “a dating relationship, which involved frequent sexual contact,” about 10 years ago. Akil, according to IMDb, has been married to writer/producer Mara Brock Akil since 1999. Brenner’s accusations of abuse are numerous and harrowing. They include multiple instances of physical violence in the form of slapping, strangling, and forced oral sex. Brenner alleges, for example, that during a birthday party in Los Angeles’s Roosevelt Hotel, Akil asked her to follow him into the bathroom, where he slapped her, causing her to stumble backwards, and then commanded her to perform oral sex. Brenner’s complaint alleges that he then urinated in her mouth.

In another instance, Brenner alleges that she asked Akil to stop having sex with her during a painful encounter. “He refused to stop, saying: ‘uhnt uhnt [no, no]. Take it.’” In yet another, the complaint claims that on a patio outside his house on Martha’s Vineyard, “he proceeded to stick three fingers up her anus and started lecturing her.” Brenner’s complaint includes multiple instances of him slapping her during sex.

Her complaint alleges that he photographed a sexual encounter without her consent, and that he also photographed her after commanding her to lick a wall in an underground parking lot.

Brenner’s complaint also describes verbal abuse: He allegedly indicated he would dispose of her in a desert if she got pregnant, and said if they were married and she cheated on him, “he would stick her hand in a hot skillet of grease.”

The suit also contains an explanation as to why she endured this abusive relationship:

The reasons why Plaintiff did not leave Akil after the very first of these instances occurred are complicated and the subject of significant resulting therapy for Plaintiff. Plaintiff believed that she loved Akil. She also looked up to him as a prominent motion picture television director in some of the same entertainment circles where Plaintiff socialized. Akil likewise would at times dangle potential acting roles and professional collaborations before Plaintiff. However, what we do know, is that these acts caused significant emotional and physical harm to the Plaintiff and were abusive; i.e., Akil intentionally or recklessly caused or attempted to cause bodily injury, or placing Plaintiff in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury.

As for the breach of contract portion of her lawsuit, Brenner’s complaint alleges Akil used element of a script she wrote in 2015, Luv & Perversity in the East Village, for a series he pitched to ABC called Documenting Love that never made it on air and for the series he created for OWN that did make it to air, Love Is ___. Brenner claims she showed him her script to facilitate a potential collaboration and the submission “was made with the implied understanding that Defendant Akil would not use any of the ideas within LPEV without the involvement and compensation of Plaintiff.”

Brenner is suing for compensatory damages, emotional distress, attorney fees, and punitive damages. The amount she is asking for is not disclosed in her complaint.

Jezebel has contacted Salim’s attorney, production company, and representation, and Brenner’s management for comment. We will update this post if and when we hear back.

You can read Brenner’s full complaint here:

Amber Brenner’s lawsuit… by on Scribd

Update (Dec. 2, 2018, 7:55 pm): Akil’s attorney, Stephen D. Barnes, esq., has issued a statement on Brenner’s allegations:

“These allegations are deeply upsetting – but they are also totally untrue. We will defend Salim to the fullest against the false and offensive claims that a woman with whom he had a past relationship has included in multiple unsubstantiated lawsuits. Salim looks forward to clearing his name and to being able to focus on his work and his family.”

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