Back when I was writing for the local paper here in Nashville, I once interviewed a sex therapist. We covered a lot of ground, but one of the things that he said that has remained in my mind to this day is, "A lot of boys learn about sex from porn. A lot of girls learn from chick flicks and Cosmo. Put those two people in a dark room together and you're going to have a big ole' mess on your hands."
After serving as a teen mom director for the local branch of a national non-profit for several years, and also after being a marriage life coach for even longer than that, I must say that when it comes to sexual preparation—especially as it pertains to a long-term commitment—that sex therapist was spot-on. Sex is a significant, relevant and very necessary part of a relationship. Yet, unfortunately, it's something that couples—including engaged and newlywed couples—do not spend nearly enough time hashing out. It's almost like they think, "We love each other, so the sex thing will work itself out." Will it? Will the bills, the in-law issues and who's going to clean what in the home going to miraculously work itself out without some intentional dialogue? No? Well, why should sex be any different?
If you're currently contemplating marriage and you're going to take "'til death parts us" serious (and please do), sex with your future spouse is going to be a part of your life, hopefully for the rest of it. I don't know about you, but that seems like a good enough of a reason to set aside a few conversations to getting some clarity about your man's views, experiences and expectations—as it specifically pertains to sex.
1. “What did your parents teach you about sex?”
Two myths, that I'm always more than happy to debunk, every chance that I get, is 1) Black women don't get married (the real truth is a lot of us have a bucket list that we'd prefer to complete before saying "I do") and 2) most Black kids grow up without dads. You can read articles like "No, Most Black Kids Are Not Fatherless" or check out the totally adorable YouTube channel Beleaf in Fatherhood to know that is a total fallacy. But when it comes to the missing daddy issue, I'd be very irresponsible if I didn't act like it doesn't exist (reportedly one-third of all U.S. children are living with an unmarried parent) and that the repercussions can be truly heartbreaking.
Take the topic of sex, for example. One of my exes? He knew his father, looks just like the man and yet his dad never claimed him. His mother? I can count at least five times when we tried to get into his house, but the door was locked. Through the window, we could hear her having sex—almost each time with a different man. Fast forward to now, and while my ex is a great never-been-married-before father of four, when I asked him what he's taught his kids about sex, he was like, "I started having sex as a kid. Who am I to be judgmental about their decisions?" For me, it came off as flippant, but what I realize is he didn't know what to do because no one taught him.
Although our parents are not solely responsible for who we become, they are a part of our foundation. Knowing what your man was told, taught and modeled can provide you with a glimpse of his views on sex and, quite possibly, the perspective and values that he'll extend to your own children someday.
2. “What was your first experience like?”
Question. How many men in your life, when they speak of their first time, it sounds healthy? And by "healthy", I mean, they weren't a child who had sex with a grown woman (if they were 14 and she was 18 or older, she was a grown woman and it was statutory rape); they weren't pressured by an older brother or some kids at their school; they weren't molested and they weren't babies at the time (14 is a pretty young to me, but I know some guys who claim to have been 9 or 10 when they gave their virginity away).
I was just telling someone earlier this week that I believe there is such a thing as "sex PTSD" and it's not always from sexual abuse or trauma. Sometimes, it's simply engaging in a sexual experience before we're ready or one that we don't really understand the magnitude of. Then, until or unless we get some clarity, we can end up carrying all of that confusion into our other sexual encounters.
One my partner's first time was with a woman that his brother locked him up in a bedroom with; that same guy ended up date raping me. Another one of my partner's first sexual encounter was with one of his female first cousins. Another one of my partners, he was a preteen who participated in a train with a group of his friends. Two had sex with a babysitter.
Contrary to popular opinion, men are not made out of emotional Teflon. And with articles out here like, "Age Of First Sexual Experience Determines Relationship Outcomes Later In Life", "Does Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness?" and "How Does Sex Affect Your Emotions? 12 Things to Know About Attraction and Arousal"—knowing about your man's first encounter can definitely shed light on some things; whether he believes it has directly affected him or not.
3. “What is your biggest past sexual regret?”
I say it often because it's something that I wholeheartedly believe. I don't trust anyone who says that there is nothing in their life that they don't regret. It's one thing to say you feel like all that you did played a purpose in where you are now; it's something else to say that when you look back over all of the things that you've said or done, you have absolutely no remorse (which is what regret is).
Unless you're about to marry a virgin, I think it's close to impossible for someone to not have any regrets when it comes to their past sexual choices. I regret having sex for the first time in my boyfriend's mother's bed with his little sister asleep in the same room. I regret having sex with people's boyfriends. I regret agreeing to pick up a guy at the side of a dumpster one night, so no one would have to know we were gonna have sex. I regret my abortions.
And here's the thing—had I not made the time to really process and heal from my regrets, I know I would've ended up carrying a bit of bitterness, resentment and baggage into my future marriage bed. It's not just me who feels like this either. Some husbands have told me that now that they are married, they wish they had handled their season of singleness differently too. So yeah, it's a good idea to ask your partner if he has any regrets. If he does, follow that question up with if he's done anything to feel better about the situation—or situations. If he hasn't, encourage him to do so.
4. “Is there any sexual trauma that we should discuss?”
Reportedly, 1 in 6 boys have been molested by the time they turn 18.
I believe it's a lot more than that because at least half of the men in my own world have shared with me that it is a part of their history. As a result, it has made it hard for them to trust, they admit to having some really complicated views about sex and, some of them have made some really toxic sexual decisions, as a way to "process" their sexuality (for instance, some told me that they had sex with lots of women because a man molested them and they were trying to "prove to themselves" that they are heterosexual).
Someone I care deeply for once told me that although he gets plenty—and I do mean, plenty—of female attention, he's not sure if he'll "ever be healthy sexually" due to his childhood sexual abuse. That's a really vulnerable and insightful thing for him to say. But just think about how many men have been molested or raped and don't share their feelings about it. Not enough women ask their partners if there is sexual trauma in their past. But for the sake of a stable and thriving intimacy life, it's one that is beyond valid.
5. “Are all of your sexual relationships and situationships FULLY resolved?”
There's a guy I know who once told me that, for a decade, he had an affair with a married woman. Now that he's married, he still finds himself hittin' that woman up on social media from time to time. In his mind, it's just to see how she's doing. In my mind, he's playing with fire (and yes, I've told him so).
The reason why I say that is because a lot of my exes are married at this point. One of them, because we were homies before sex ever entered into the picture, I used to think it was OK for him to hit me up too. But conversations always eventually turned into a slick sexual statement or strolling down sexual memory's lane which is all kinds of inappropriate. So, even though we used to be friends, because we also used to be more than that and we never really closed that chapter, I had to totally and completely let him go. Otherwise, it was gonna be a slippery slope if we remained in communication.
A lot of married couples deal with jealousy and even slight paranoia in their relationship, not because their spouse has a past, but because they can tell that the past has never been fully resolved. It might hurt to know that your partner still has some "residue" laying around somewhere, but it's better to ask and encourage him to close those doors now than to find out the hard way later that he didn't via an emotional affair—or worse.
6. “What are your sexual expectations?”
When people hear that I have no problem spending 5-6 weeks on intimacy in premarital counseling sessions, they think that I'm being excessive. Whatever. If they knew how much sexual dysfunction I hear about while dealing with couples after they say "I do", they'd get why it's such a priority to me. Being that a lack of intimacy continues to be a leading cause of divorce, and also because I know that a lot of dating couples feel like intimacy is not something that they need to put a lot of forethought into (I mean, we love each other, so what is there to worry about? We got this), that's why I think that intimacy should be explored, almost ad nauseam.
It never fails. Whenever a married couple comes to me about their issues and challenges, it's very rare that sex doesn't come up in the conversation. Someone isn't getting as much as they want, someone isn't getting the kind that they desire, or someone thought that the entire sexual part of their relationship was going to be different.
We all know what assuming can do to a person and having expectations without discussing them first is a form of making assumptions. Whether you've had sex prior to marriage or the plan is to wait until after getting married, you are going to do your future sex life a world of good by asking each other what your expectations are, beforehand.
7. “Do you have any sex-related deal-breakers or hang ups?”
I've shared in one of these articles before that a husband once told me that, in premarital counseling, he expressed how important fellatio was to him. His fiancée was so intent on getting married that she said, in counseling, that she loved to give head; that him getting it on the regular would be no problem. Fast forward to almost a decade into their marriage and, according to him, he only got it twice. He ended up cheating.
Another husband? When he was dating his wife, he told her that sex every day was preferred but if not that, sex every other day was desired. She not only agreed but professed that her drive was also really high. They ended up having sex about once a week. They were married for almost 12 years. They're divorced now.
You can say whatever you want to say about these men and what they wanted going into their marriage, but it's what they wanted. If it's something that sounds ridiculous to you, you're actually proving my point about why it's a good idea to ask your own man this question on the front end.
I know some people who didn't know their partner hates oral or doesn't like to try new things or only wants to have sex in the dark before they married them. They are pretty close to being miserable now. So yeah, figuring out what the potential deal-breakers or hang ups are before marriage is definitely something that should also be discussed. It can only benefit you if you do.
8. “How much of a priority is your health?”
This question might seem like a bit of a wild card, but here's why it's relevant. There's a wife I know who, while she was dating her now-husband, he gave her the impression that she was gonna be swinging from the chandeliers from their wedding night on. He talked such a big game that she was a little intimidated, going into their honeymoon. But from their wedding night on, he has had trouble maintaining an erection because he's overweight and has to take blood pressure medication. It's been well over a decade now. Guess who's the one who isn't sexually satisfied?
Married sex is wonderful. It really is. It's also a responsibility in marriage. And in order to act responsibly when it comes to marital intimacy, one's health must be taken into account. So yeah, inquire about that too.
9. “Do you think there is a difference between single and married sex?”
Single sex can be all kinds of false advertising, boy. After all, when you're single, you are your top priority and so, it's pretty common to mostly and mainly consider yourself, even when it comes to sex.
If you take out the time to read "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important", hopefully you'll see that married sex is very different from sex you may be having as a single individual. Shoot, the "forever exclusivity" of the dynamic is enough to set it apart.
Even while dating, different couples have different "rules". Maybe you don't mind your man going to a strip club with his friends. Maybe you're not as upset if you find out he watches porn. Maybe there are certain things that he wants you to do that you concede to because "It's not like it's all of the time."
Most of the men that I know, they are pretty literal. When it comes to this topic, what I mean by that is if you give your partner the impression that nothing has to change from his single life, it probably won't. So, if you've got other thoughts, this would be the time to bring them up. Stat.
10. “How important are my needs going to be?”
Something that I had to learn the hard way about sex—and by sex, I mean good sex—is sometimes, even your pleasure is all about a man's ego. What I mean by that is some men aren't great in bed because they are trying to connect with their partner and meet her needs. Sometimes they are, just so they can feel good about themselves; it's all about patting themselves on the back (by the way, I believe that there is even such a thing as "sexual narcissism"; you can read more about it here). The problem with this kind of individual is they tend to not emotionally invest well. Plus, the sex will only be good if they want it to be that way. Who wants to spend forever with an individual like that?!
So yeah, it would be ludicrous of me to not close this out with a question that could've been the first one, to tell you the truth. Before marrying "him", discuss what your own sexual needs and desires are, get a read for how he feels about each and every one of them, and discuss if they are going to be a priority or not.
Marriage is supposed to be for life. Both partners should be willing to spend a lifetime pleasing one another in the best ways possible; this includes sexually. A good way to know if that is a part of your partner's plan is to well, ask him.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life
How PCOS Strengthened This Couple's 4-Year Marriage
If You're In A Committed Relationship, Avoid These Sex Mistakes At All Costs
6 Tips For Dealing With A Sexually Incompatible Spouse
Feature image by Giphy
- 9 Sex Questions To Ask Your Partner - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Questions You Should Ask Before You Have Sex - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Third Date Questions To Ask A Guy - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Get Clear About Where and How You’ve Changed - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 2. Am I Getting What I Need from My Sexual Experiences? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
xoNecole's New Visual Hair Story "The Root Of It" Is Here
For Black women, hair isn't just hair. It's our mouthpiece and our magic.
xoNecole is proud to introduce "The Root Of It," a visual hair story in partnership with SheaMoisture. For this cozy and no-frills experience, we tasked world-renowned hairstylist Ursula Stephen with creating hair transformations on three of our favorite influencers: Jasmine Moses (@slimreshae), Mel Mitchell (@itsmelmitch) and Tiffany Renee (@iam.tiffany.renee). Hosted by former beauty editor turned content creator Blake Newby, "The Root Of It" takes us on a journey of hair as the ultimate expression. We pay homage to the innovators in Black hair that have birthed a generation of styles. Most importantly, we get a little scalp education, learning the basics of how to care for our crowns by focusing first on the scalp.
Watch episode one of "The Root Of It" now, and stay tuned for episodes two and three!