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.
- Rome Flynn - Wikipedia ›
- Get to Know 'HTGAWM' Newcomer Rome Flynn with These 10 Fun ... ›
- Rome Flynn (@RomeTrumain) | Twitter ›
- Rome Flynn: Five Things to Know - StarsAndCelebs.com ›
- 'HTGAWM' Season 5 Finale Twist Scoop & More — Rome Flynn ... ›
- 'Don't Kill Me!' HTGAWM's Rome Flynn Speaks On The Future Of His ... ›
- Rome Flynn at the Television Academy Daytime Programming Peer ... ›
- How to Get Away with Murder: Rome Flynn Talks About Gabriel ... ›
- Actor Rome Flynn talks life, career, and hoops - YouTube ›
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
It seems reasonable to assume that new music will slow down in tempo to coincide with the fall season that quickly approaches. However, musicians, ever the unreasonable, are constantly showing us that they have different ideas. They have chosen to keep releasing club hits rather than slow tunes to get us ready for cuffing season, letting people know that while summer may be coming to an end, it may last as long as they want it to.
We are waving goodbye to summer with the new music from last week, but we might also be welcoming another week of tunes designed only for dancing. And honestly, who can complain about that? Here's this week's new music to make you move at every tempo.
"Another One of Me" - Diddy ft. The Weeknd, 21 Savage, & French Montana
Since its original recording in 2016, this song has undergone a great deal of alterations. The Weeknd previewed the new version of the song on his recent European tour, though it was originally scheduled to be released in 2020 and again in 2022. Nevertheless, with the release of this song, The Weeknd also declared that this would be his final "guest" appearance for some time, if ever. Therefore, the Weeknd sings about how there will "never be another one of [him]" again in this unique, enticing, and bold farewell. Thus, we must value him and the rest of his crew--French Montana and 21 Savage--while we still have the chance.
The musicians deliver vocal bars and complimentary rhymes on the song, which is accompanied by a drum sample from what seems like Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," as they consider their timeliness and what Diddy has done for the hip-hop/R&B community over the past few decades and on newly released The Love Album.
"Slime You Out" - Drake ft. SZA
On my first listen, it took everything I had in me not to abruptly end this song. However, by the time Drake begins to sing—heavily using auto-tune—and the beat begins to drop, there is enough of an allure to keep me listening. "Slime You Out" which features SZA is the lead single to Drake's highly anticipated eighth studio album, For All The Dogs. In the song, both musicians talk about being exploited by their ex-lovers and share their own emotional experiences.
They also disclose their malice towards their exes, as "sliming" someone out refers to using them for sex. The single and its meaning works perfectly for the duo, especially after it was revealed on Twitter (RIP) that Drake and SZA used to date back in '08--or was it '09? Regardless, this song allows the exes to focus on past relationships, even their own, as they take turns talking about ex-lovers and finally putting their years of subtle back and forth to rest.
"Lexicon" - Vagabon
Vagabon, also known as Laetitia Tamko, debuted her new album Sorry I Haven't Called on Friday, September 15, as well as her most recent single "Lexicon." Sorry I Haven't Called is a loving and tenacious album about enjoying the exhilarating moments wherever you can by understanding how you love and grieve. The album was formed out of sadness when her closest friend passed away in 2021.
It's an LP that draws inspiration from both group dance floor revelations and the enlightening calm of isolation; it represents both a creative and emotional resurrection. She claims that the record was made to include every feeling she had at the time, even when there was none. In "Lexicon," Vagabon invites the listener to let go of words and the meaning of things, as she repeatedly sings atop a bed of rhythmic noises in "Lexicon" to communicate her longing for oblivion.
"You Wish" - Flyana Boss
Last week, I had the pleasure of watching Flyana Boss open for Janelle Monáe. During their introduction, they discussed being best friends and explained that this foundation allowed them to become the artists that they desired to be. Within moments, the chemistry between the duo was fathomable as they easily played off one another and allowed room for each other to easily shine.
Though it's not a new single, the official video for the song dropped last week. In it, Flyana Boss mocks those who refer to them as "industry plants," while the song brings attention to their infamous "Hello Christ, I am about to sin again," challenge that TikTok sparked to life these last couple of months. They are strange, but in the coolest of ways, mainly because they don't wish to be like anyone else. However, it is clear that with their success others might.
"SKED" - Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry starts his song, which is almost an interlude, by outlining the reasons why he does not feel the need to trust others. He then goes on to tell people that because of their treatment and actions, he is unwilling to find a reason to comprehend those in positions of power and how they utilize their influence. He comes to the conclusion that these actions are the result of fear, and he merely declares that his adversaries are afraid before leaving it at just that. This brand-new song and its accompanying video leave the audience wanting more in less than two minutes. However, as he has stated, he's said all that he has needed to say.
"FAN" - Offset
This song is not long, and if you aren't paying attention, you won't be sure that the first minute is the same as the first 0:00 to 0:50 seconds. Regardless, when it kicks off, boy does it run and it takes off with Offset's insistence on shouting "f**k everybody" kicks in. Offset creates an entertaining video that draws inspiration from his admiration for Michael Jackson and his showmanship to demonstrate the necessity to destroy every bridge he has built since everyone is deserving of a sharp and clear "FU."
This video definitely shows how he has grown as an artist over the last couple of years, and after the grief he has faced from his cousin Takeoff's death, it only makes sense why he doesn't give a damn or two about turning his back on everyone.
"Balut" - Doja Cat
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hate how much I love Doja Cat's music. I don't want to, I've actively been resisting it. However, I must say that since her "MOO[ing]" days, she has developed into a dynamic artist, and this has only led to the creation of vibes, bops, and songs that are worth listening to. Consider her most recent song, "Balut." It is a total vibe. She boasts about her ability to create hits and her distinctive artistic range in her most recent song.
In fact, she thinks that her artistic ability is as simple as "taking candy from a baby." She is correct that it is that simple; or at least for her it is. It is difficult to believe otherwise while listening to her mid-tempo, brag-tinged tune with its smooth flow. Her newest LP Scarlet drops this Friday, and like a moth to a flame, Doja knows we will all be anxiously awaiting its arrival.
"Snooze (Acoustic)" - SZA ft. Justin Bieber
I would not have wagered a single penny that this collaboration would truly take place. But now that it has, many question whether it ought to have. Lyrically, there is nothing fresh to concentrate on. SZA continues to explain why she would be prepared to break the law and compromise her values for the person she loves, but they are still hesitant to meet her halfway. The only thing that has changed is that we now have Justin Beiber's face to place her pleas upon. When Justin Beiber and SZA join in on the acoustic version of "Snooze," they produce a silky, smooth duet that is harmonized flawlessly with daunting echoes and heavenly vocals that coo over one another smoothly.
"Peaches & Eggplants" - Young Nudy ft. Latto & Sexyy Red (Remix)
I'll give you a second to consider what the song "Peaches and Eggplants" by Young Nudy feat. Latto & Sexxy Red could be about. Yes, now that you've experienced that moment. You are correct, that is what it is about. It is all about sex—and more sex—and, well, you get the idea. Even though the song's basic structure is straightforward, it nonetheless provides a fun finish to the summer. The song's production features synthesizers, "pounding" percussion, and Young Nudy's gunshot emulation in the background.
However, the remix now has a more feminine, more confident (if that could have been possible) edge to it thanks to Latto and Sexyy Redd. No one holds back on this song, but then again, the title never implied that they would.
"Swing" - EARTHGANG ft. Benji
And when we ask them when they been at, EARTHGANG will simply say they've been over here. On the right side of things, where they have always belonged. Fresh on the release track of their newest single "Swing" for Marvel's Spider-Man 2 video game soundtrack, EARTHGANG has returned to make us move like they always have. Joined by Benji, the song is loud, with a guitar rift that sounds like Imagine Dragons' "I'm So Sorry," and simultaneously lowers the tempo to make the perfect illustration of a song fusing several genres.
The song shouldn't make sense, much as when Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar collaborated at the VMAs, yet the seamless genre-hopping makes the song engaging and ideal for the video game platform it advertises.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image via SZA "Snooze"/YouTube