If you're caught up on season five of How to Get Away with Murder, then you are familiar with Rome Flynn. He's the latest addition to Shondaland, a handsome addition, if we might add.
Starring as Gabriel Maddox, Flynn is currently a series regular on the ABC drama. In addition to #HTGAWM, he stars in The Haves and Have Nots and most recently appeared in A Madea Family Funeral. Flynn may be an attractive actor with an athletic build, but there's more to the Chicago native than his appearance.
With this #XOMan feature, we delve deep with Flynn to learn more about who he is outside of his career, fatherhood, his views on marriage, and why he's only willing to give love one more chance.
xoMan: How did you become a part of the ‘HTGAWM’ family, and what has that overall experience been like for you?
Rome Flynn: Originally, when I got the audition, I was in Atlanta. I was filming The Haves and Have Nots and my schedule was just crazy, and so when my team sent me the audition, I told them that I couldn't do it. I wasn't going to be able to find time to audition, because I was at work for 10-12 hours sometimes. I said no. But then after reading the audition and obviously being a fan of the show myself I knew I had to figure out how I could send a tape in.
"It's been a great experience so far. It's been a hell of a ride."
I'm very happy and excited about the ups and downs and whatever happens going forward, because I just feel like I'm very blessed and humbled to be able to work with the people that I'm working with. I'm a part of a platform that's incredible to be on.
Your character Gabriel is seeking truth, but we know the truth is not what’s best for him. Do you believe there are things in life you’re better off not knowing the answers to?
Personally, in life, I think yes. I believe that to be the case. I don't think we should know everything. But, in regard to Gabriel, I think he's just trying to figure out what happened to his father, and it has a lot to do with figuring out who he is.
I really try to keep [Gabriel] honest. Doing a show like this, you can get away from that. You can get away from the fact that he's Black. You can do a role like this and it become white-washed to a sense, because there's a stigma with people who are intelligent. Because you can't be smart and Black. That's the thing I try to be conscious of. I try to put a little bit of myself, because I want somebody to see the show and be like well, I actually like him. Maybe I can be a lawyer too.
In today’s society. There’s a lot of hidden truths. Do you find it difficult to trust people?
Professionally, I have to trust my directors. I have to trust my editors. It's hard trusting people personally. I always try and approach the mindset of having good intuition about people. I tend to have a good sense about who a person is, even before you have a deep conversation with them, because there's tales and signs that we don't pay attention to on a daily basis.
I try to meet people and be open to whatever that person is and understanding of who they are. So, I don't have trust issues in that sense. But, yeah I definitely do feel like I protect the world that I live in though, as far as letting people in.
What are some telling factors for you when discerning a woman’s character that you’re interested in?
It's interesting because I feel like sometimes it changes for me. In my reality, it sometimes becomes hard to decipher intention a lot for women. If I'm talking to a woman, it depends on what I'm looking for. If I'm just looking to "hang out" with somebody, it's really not that difficult, because I feel like I always hold the cards.
At this point, I don't know what the dating life is like, because I'm so focused and driven on what I'm doing.
"It's so hard to find someone that matches my energy. What I'm seeking is bigger. It's big picture."
It's hard for me to connect with women, because, I don't buy into stuff online. I really do love my fans, and I think there's a lot of women out there who shower me with compliments, but I'll never buy into it. Because, once you buy into it, your values get skewed. That's not reality. They don't know you. They idolize certain aspects of you.
What important qualities do you view in a woman? Does being a father impact your views on women?
I think ambition is something that I didn't know I wanted in a woman, until I saw it wasn't there. I just want someone to match my energy. I don't want a woman that I need to take care of. I want to take care of you, but I don't want to feel like I need to. That's the difference. A lot of women are OK with being taken care of. I want a woman who understands and values herself. A lot of women my age don't understand themselves.
Having a daughter has certainly made me analyze my relationships differently. I think that if I'm talking to a woman, I understand what I want from the jump. I never try to go into it seeking a situation where I lead anyone on. I'm always upfront, and my thing is that comes from holding all the cards.
What’s your sign?
So…do you always have to be in control?
I have to be in control, because I'm protecting a lot of things. I'm protecting my career. I'm protecting my daughter. My family. Not in a sense that I want to control you. In the industry, a lot of things are out of my control. The things that I can control, I'm very meticulous about.
What’s one of the first things you notice about a woman when she enters a room?
Presence. There are millions of women in the world. You see a lot of women. You see beautiful women, and the beautiful aspect starts to look the same.
"The first thing I notice is a woman's presence."
What does an ideal date look like for you?
I'm a homebody. Honestly. I'm away sometimes a lot. I like to be at home. I'd rather watch a movie or something or have a glass of wine.
Some women want to be seen. I don't do public initially. I have to protect that. I don't want to be the guy that's out and seen with different women.
It’s funny because that goes against what most women want. And if you want a woman to treat you regular, how does that work? Because, you’re essentially asking me to bend the rules because of who you are?
Exactly. That's why you see a lot of celebrities with people that are successful in their field and dating people in their field or in the same realm as what they do. It's just easier to skip a lot of steps. It's easier to be understood. There are a lot of people lonely at the top, because it's this idea that nobody understands what they're going through, and people just want to have someone that sees them.
To a certain degree, you want to feel protected and it's really hard to trust people especially when you have stuff to do. I feel a little anxiety. It's not a bad thing, but it's like people went from wanting to take pictures with me to wanting to take pictures of me. You become not real to people.
If a woman is amazing and genuine, she’s not going to want to break through all those barriers. At some point, you have to have a good sense of judgement, no?
I mean for sure. There's a balance that you need to have. Would it be a lot easier if I worked somewhere else and didn't have the success I had? Probably. Probably find love right away, but this takes sacrifice. It takes sacrifices to be great, and I feel like love is a part of that.
I've been in love twice with a woman, and I just said recently that I think I can go for one more. If it doesn't work this time, I'm actually cool off of it.
Is marriage important to you?
I don't know. Marriage is important to me, in the sense if I ever did get married – that's it. I would never get divorced. I have a lot of respect for marriage. It's just such a tall order to me. That would be a love that I haven't experienced.
The energy you put out there is what you receive. If you already putting it out there that it’s [marriage] not going to come, then it isn’t.
I'm open to it. That's the difference to me. I'm open to it. I never saw a healthy marriage growing up, so I don't know what that looks like. How am I supposed to know? I'm not saying it won't happen. I'm just saying I would be surprised if it happened. I've thought about it for sure.
"There's other things that are in front of me right now, but if someone came in and changed my course of thought, I'm all for it."
What can we expect from you in the future?
I've given it to God already. I want to keep breaking barriers. One of the most prolific things that I learned from working with Viola Davis and Tyler Perry is that creative control is important. A lot of people don't realize how much creative control Viola Davis has and obviously Tyler Perry has all the creative control. That's something I'm searching for, because I feel like film, TV, arts in general reflects the world around you.
A lot of people base their knowledge on stuff that they see. It's one thing to say we want more Black people in major roles, but I want more Black people in roles that aren't stereotypes. I want the film to just be amazing because this person is perfect for it. I feel like there's room for it. Those are things I would love at some point to be a part of. Those are things I'm interested in, because representation is important.
Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com
Originally published April 8, 2019.
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Food is the star of the show for Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest: dinner wouldn’t be anything special without a good tablescape. Decor is a significant part of the holiday season! Garlands, pumpkins, candles, and other decor can take your Thanksgiving spread from bland to brilliant! However, we understand the stress of making a whole feast for family and friends.
We sat down with Beth Smith of Beth Diana Smith Interior Designs to learn how to create the perfect tablescape for any dinner party.
Set the Tone With Dinnerware
Carolyn Ann Ryan/Getty Images
“Focus on the meal you’re serving and make your dinnerware set the tone and be the highlight of the table,” says Smith. The dinner is why your community is coming together and is arguably the most crucial centerpiece. Decorative pieces are nice, but food and what we use to eat can make it much more special. Smith suggests, “I recommend the Nguka dinnerware set from 54kibo, which is stunning, unique, and beautifully made.”
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, The Stoke Collection by ceramic artists Althea’s Meade-Hajduk is intentionally created to visually enhance any meal experience.
Have Fun With Your Color Palette
Maria Korneeva/Getty Images
In the world of nude palette overload, it’s nice to see color occasionally. Color is a natural mood booster that can bring excitement to the room - or table! “Create a thoughtful color palette that is not the standard Thanksgiving palette of fall colors,” says Smith. Having fun with colors and moving away from a traditional setting can bring uniqueness to your tablescape.
There’s also no chance of your tablescape having the same color palette as everyone else on social media. Smith adds, “If pink has grabbed your attention, this dusty pink set from Our Place has different plate and bowl size options.”
Incorporate Florals Through Bud Vases or Bouquets
Who doesn’t love florals? This look is accepted year-round, not just when romance is involved. “You can’t go wrong with florals for a tablescape if you’re setting it for your family, friends, or a group of singles,” says Smith. Florals are an easy way to make any event look elevated without having to try as hard. If you’re worried about hypoallergenic guests, you can purchase artificial flowers from Amazon. Here, you can find various floral options and even create your own bouquet.
“A floral tablescape can be budget-friendly or as extravagant as you may like. You can select a few bud vases and strategically place them around the table using a bouquet you bought locally,” says Smith.
Unsure of who is your local florist? Black Girl Florist is a site that helps you source local florists in your area. Click here to find a florist in your neighborhood! And if your budget is a little tighter than usual due to the holidays, Smith has a solution that will save you money altogether. Smith suggests, “You can also use dried-up branches and leaves from your backyard, which would be free.”
Elevate Your Tablescape With a Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards have become all the rage on TikTok, and for good reason. Mixing your favorite meats, cheese, and grapes has made snacking visually tasteful. Smith says they can also create a fabulous tablescape - killing two birds with one stone. Smith says, “You can never go wrong with creating one large charcuterie board. This makes food the decoration interesting, colorful, and delicious!” This could be especially great for Friendsgiving, and you want to avoid cooking a turkey twice.
The beauty of charcuterie boards is creating a food palette unique to you or your guest's needs. On the flip side, we also understand how overwhelming it can be to decide precisely what to put on your board. Smith has a few recommendations that can be helpful, “You can include cheeses, crackers, and meats, but you can also add specialty items like deserts, chocolate, and truffle mustard.”
Smith refers to the Truffle Mustard by Truffiest, an award-deserving mustard infused with summer truffles from northern Italy. This mustard can be paired with crackers, cheeses, meats, and shredded turkey if you want to stay on the theme.
Build on an Artsy Vibe and Add Layers
There’s no shame in bringing it back to basics. Bring out the old tablecloth your family member gave you a few years ago; it’s vintage! “The goal is to make the table look and feel like you have everything you need and more,” Smith says. Everything you need and more can consist of four main ingredients: tablecloth, napkins, cups, and, most importantly - wine glasses. “Make the tablescape feel artistic with funky dinner napkins and tablecloths. Then, layer with oversized plates, long-stemmed wine glasses, and after-dinner cups.”
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Featured image by Goodboy Picture Company/Getty Images