While babymoons have existed for eons, they have grown incredibly popular in recent years! As someone with insufferable wanderlust, there was no doubt that a babymoon was something I wanted to do during my pregnancy, especially because it has always been my goal to maintain pre-mommy personality traits, qualities, and hobbies – before and after the baby is born.
Fortunately for me, and not to toot my own horn, pregnant me was already headed to France for a wedding so I simply decided to extend my trip and travel outside of Paris to conduct my pre-baby meditative vacation in the South of France (exact destination still TBD). Doing so eliminated a lot of the hassle of trying to figure out where to go for a babymoon and lowkey may be a good tip, you know? Double up! If you’re already going somewhere during your pregnancy, pick a babymoon destination nearby based on comfortability and doctor’s orders.
But it also reminds me to point out that there is a major difference between a vacation and a trip! The older you get, the more you realize this. Getting fucked up every day isn’t always the relaxation you crave and even worse when you’re tacking on jetlag. Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone might return home feeling relaxed under those circumstances. Babymoons are a time to unwind before the baby comes because, while I hope it won’t be anyone’s last trip, it may damn sure be the last relaxing trip before so much of your planning caters to your growing family.
A handful of travel experts provided us with a nice list of destinations that might be perfect for your babymoon, but many of them also pointed out that a babymoon (with its purpose in mind) can be a staycation at a luxurious hotel or off in the cabins – it doesn’t have to be a pricey, passport-toting getaway. Below are 18 destinations that you might consider while mapping out your babymoon.
1. The Bahamas
The Bahamas offers beautiful beaches, gorgeous resorts, and plenty of activities for expectant parents to enjoy. At Breezes Resort and Spa, you will be pampered with spa treatments and delicious food. The resort also has an array of activities including snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming with dolphins.
– Shawn Richards, Expedition Coordinator and Master Adventurer
Nassau, Paradise Island Bahamas is the perfect vacation for soon-to-be parents to relax and unwind before heading into parenthood. Paradise Island offers visitors an array of different experiences including an afternoon with the world-famous swimming pigs, a tour around the statues of the peaceful Versailles Gardens, or a visit to the National Art Gallery. Atlantis Paradise Island’s The Cove is an elegant hotel perfect for couples seeking a romantic babymoon.
Couples can also enjoy five miles of white sand beaches, tranquil azure waters and so many amenities including golf for the soon-to-be dad and a fun day shopping and self-care for the soon-to-be mom. For a relaxing day at the adults-only pool, couples can spend the day in a private cabana enjoying delicious mocktails and end the night dining at diverse culinary options including Fish by Chef José Andrés, Nobu by Nobu Matsuhisa, Olives by Todd English, and Casa D'Angelo by Chef Angelo Elia.
2. Chicago, IL
You're not regular parents, you're cool parents, so why not go all out for your last night as a pair? Fly to Chicago and spend a night (or three) in Viceroy Chicago’s penthouse suite. You'll also enjoy a private yacht cruise on the Chicago River, a custom tasting menu at Somerset restaurant, and incredible sunset views from the Devereaux rooftop lounge. Babymoons are a great time to relax, unwind, eat (with two hands because you'll be holding a baby all day!) and pamper yourself.
– Matthew Bowley, Marketing Manager at Solmar Villas
A quick 1.5 - 2 hour drive southwest of Chicago, IL – we have a Babymoon Package that we offer, perfect for the significant other to surprise someone with or plan together. [The Kishauwau Cabins] are located just a 10-minute drive from the largest state park in Illinois, so there are lots of things to do in the area. [The cabins] are a small built-up family business that has been here for over 35 years. Our customers love how well-spaced our cabins are for privacy. We are out in the country, so it’s such a safe property and we get many single women that [travel] here. [Additionally], four of our cabins are dog-friendly.
–Terisa King, Owner of Kishauwau Cabins
3. St. Lucia
St. Lucia offers a tropical paradise that has a little bit of everything — beaches, waterfalls, parks, and everything in between. If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort, there are a ton to choose from. Here you get to enjoy much-needed rest and take full advantage of the endless spas the resorts have to offer.
Babymoons can be taken anywhere, however, some general considerations that may be helpful before choosing a holiday destination for your babymoon may include avoiding areas with high altitudes or intense heat, being mindful of possible food and waterborne illnesses, and ensuring that there is adequate medical support available in case of an emergency.
– Becky Moore, Founder of Global Grasshopper
Arguably one of the most breathtakingly beautiful resorts in the Caribbean, Jade Mountain offers a relaxing getaway where moms-to-be (and expecting dads) can enjoy a babymoon surrounded by St. Luca’s stunning nature. With sanctuaries that feature uninterrupted views of the famed Pitons surrounded by striking blue waters, butler service, and en-suite private plunge pools, the resort offers an idyllic getaway for expecting parents to be pampered before the baby arrives.
Spend the day relaxing in a private beach hut with perks like mitered cooling spray, fruit kebabs and sorbed, unwind with en-suite yoga and meditations, and satisfy cravings at the resort’s onsite Chocolate Lab where a dedicated Chocolate Alchemist guides guests in making signature sweets, or learn the art of healthy vegan cooling at the resort’s organic, regenerative farm. The options are endless but one thing is for sure: you’ll leave feeling rested, refreshed, and ready for the next steps in your journey.
After visiting Iceland myself a couple of years ago I can fully understand the attraction to the country for a babymoon, the air is clean, the population is small and the wide-open spaces help you feel at one with nature. The Blue Lagoon is a must-visit, it is known for its geothermal waters, which are said to have healing properties. The setting is breathtaking as you are surrounded by mountains and black sand beaches. If it wasn't enough to float around supported by the wonderful warm waters you can also enjoy spa treatments and prenatal massages.
– Becky Moore, Founder of Global Grasshopper
5. Poconos, PA
One of the best babymoon destinations is the Poconos. The Poconos offers a relaxing atmosphere to have an iconic view while picnicking on the lake, taking a walk in the beautiful downtown area, or taking a scenic drive through the mountains. You can skip the adventure and relax with nature before your little one arrives.
– Corritta, It’s a Family Thing
6. Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach would be an excellent option for one last hoorah before the beautiful new addition. The destination is easily accessible, home to 35 miles of beaches and for those couples who want to enjoy themselves but be mindful of expenses, Virginia Beach is an affordable getaway that still provides the pleasures of a true escape. The most unique package offered in the beach town is from The Barclay Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Virginia Beach.
Located near the oceanfront, the house features wraparound porches on both floors and was originally intended as a golf course clubhouse. Each guestroom features soothing, coastal decor with original hardwood floors, and most offer a private bath. Couples who choose the cottage's Babymoon Package are greeted with chocolate-dipped clementines and sparkling cider in their room plus a couple's massage (prenatal for her, Swedish for him) in the on-site Seagrass Massage Room during their stay.
– Francisco Perdomo
7. The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are also great for single moms – our resorts are in Islamorada, only 90 minutes from Miami and the MIA Airport so it’s an easy and safe destination to travel solo. It’s similar to a Caribbean destination without ever leaving the U.S. Moms-to-be can be as active as they’d like to be – relax poolside or get out on the water. Moms will wake up on the sunrise side of Islamorada.
Couples can enjoy an oceanfront pool, boat excursions, and daily activities from sunrise to sunset such as beachside yoga. We also have a large mocktail menu which is appreciated by mamas. Amara Cay Resort hosts babymoons on a weekly basis.
8. San Juan Island, WA
Need some time off before the baby arrives? Spend a memorable weekend at the Tucker House Inn & Harrison House Suites on magical San Juan Island. They’ll pamper the expectant parent(s), provide satiating food and relaxation with freshly baked house-made cookies, a sparkling non-alcoholic beverage, truffles waiting upon arrival, and a $50 voucher to tide-to-table Coho Restaurant for a candlelit dinner. A gourmet breakfast in bed every morning and a special prenatal massage for the mom-to-be at a local spa round out the indulgence. They’ll even satisfy the prenatal cravings of the new mama with ice cream made just for her! Where else can you do a babymoon and receive an orca whale onesie for your new arrival?
The San Juan Islands are a short floatplane ride from Seattle or an hour-long leisurely ferry ride from the mainland of Washington State. Consistently recognized as a top travel destination by TripAdvisor, Travel + Leisure, and Condé Nast Traveler for the last decade, the Islands offer nature and nurture--gentle hikes, sea kayaking, farm-to-table foods, and pampering spas await.
–Amy M. Nesler, Stewardship & Communications Manager
9. Niantic, Connecticut
[This] is the most perfect place for any woman ready to take her babymoon. The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina Bed and Breakfast is a restored inn located in the marina district and has the most beautiful views you will ever see. It offers elegance, nostalgia, and relaxation to its guests. This place is fantastic because it's within walking distance of a lot of local shops and restaurants, so you can stroll along and enjoy the area. Best of all, this inn offers special packages to residents for anniversaries, simple getaways, or relaxation. It's also said that they offer packages specifically for babymoons! So don't be afraid to check it out!
– Suzanne Bucknam CEO, The Connecticut Explorer
10. Maui, Hawaii
Maui is home to golden sand beaches, swimming, snorkeling, golfing, and consistently sunny skies, making it a perfect choice for a babymoon. Here, visitors can relax on famed Kaanapali Beach, take a light walking tour of Haleakala National Park and attend a showing of Old Lahaina Luau to learn and enjoy all that Hawaiian culture has to offer. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa is an ideal resort for a babymoon getaway as it stands out when it comes to relaxation. The hotel has recently completed the multimillion-dollar renovation of its 810 guestrooms and lobby and is the perfect place to unwind.
Soon-to-be-parents can enjoy a relaxing couples massage or feel an authentic sense of Hawaii with the Lomi Lomi Massage at the Marilyn Monroe Spa, the only oceanfront spa on Maui. The resort also hosts an award-winning Drums of the Pacific Lu’au. [Last but not least], it features six free-form pool areas, oceanfront cabanas, various dining destinations, and much more.
11. Palm Beach, Aruba
Aruba, the happy island, is the perfect place for parents to enjoy an authentic Caribbean babymoon. Known for its year-round sunshine, Aruba boasts amazing weather with low humidity and refreshing east trade wind breezes. Aruba is easily accessible with daily flights arriving from across the country and has plenty of activities for couples to enjoy. Aruba is known for some of the most amazing beaches including Baby Beach, known for its shallow and calm waters it is the perfect place for soon-to-be parents to relax. The scenic coastline makes the perfect backdrop for couples to have a romantic day on a Monforte Luxury Cruise.
Located on 12 acres of luxe waterfront property, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino is the perfect place to stay on this vacation. The resort recently finished a multimillion-dollar renovation that includes the brand-new ZoiA Spa and Trankilo, an adults-only pool with 10 private cabanas where guests can receive spa treatments as well. Couples can enjoy treatments including Aruba Sun Rescue using local aloe to Island Breeze with a pineapple sugar scrub to Massage den Awa, a gentle form of body therapy performed in the Trankilo pool for deep relaxation that combines elements of massage, shiatsu, and muscle stretching.
12. St. Barths
Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf opened in St. Barths in October 2020. The five-star resort exudes luxury, elegance, and French-style charm throughout its 21 luxurious rooms, suites, and bungalows, including a Penthouse Suite. Set amid tropical elegance that creates an ambiance of well-being, relaxation, and letting go, Le Carl is the perfect place for a babymoon. The Hotel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf is the only hotel on the island boasting panoramic views of the port of Gustavia, the island’s capital. Guests can enjoy the renowned Fouquet’s restaurant which has made the journey from Paris to offer guests the delicious and exciting cuisine created by three-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire.
The spa offers multi-sensory stimulation, bespoke holistic treatments, and tailored massages. They also offer a treatment called a Serenity Massage that is perfect for expectant mothers who are 4-8 months pregnant and relieves backache, lightens the legs, and improves skin elasticity. They offer pure and natural products from Biologique Recherche. The hotel is situated in close distance to other key attractions of the area including the idyllic Shell Beach and its superb Shellona restaurant; the lively port, with its tranquil alleyways and sophisticated boutiques; and the natural sea pools of Grand Fond and Petit-Cul de Sac.
13. West Hollywood, CA
Andaz West Hollywood is perfect for soon-to-be parents who love music and film as it is Los Angeles’ iconic rock ‘n’ roll hotel located on the famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California where musical history, celebrity, and style come together. Couples can enjoy spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills on one side and the Sunset Strip and Downtown Los Angeles on the other from the hotel’s rooftop pool, complete with a poolside bar and an array of cabanas to revel in. The pool is the highest rooftop pool in Los Angeles, making for a truly unforgettable getaway. The hotel also features the acclaimed Riot House Restaurant for a night of dining in West Hollywood.
14. Sanibel, FL
As one of the prettiest beaches and state parks in Florida, Sanibel is the perfect weekend getaway for couples or single women alike. Sanibel is an ideal location for a babymoon because you can relax on the beach, take a nap on a hammock, lie by the pool or simply lay in your room and admire the Intracoastal views from your balcony. Or, if you want to shop around the town for the little one on the way, there are tons of quaint shops to explore.
Sanibel Harbor Resort is home to one of the best spas in Florida on Punta Rassa, a peninsula on San Carlos Bay. While staying at the hotel, you can enjoy a full menu of therapeutic treatments. Most importantly, they have a Prenatal Massage which is perfect for moms to be. This massage is custom designed to focus on the discomfort that happens during pregnancy.– Nikki Webster, Brit on the Move
15. The Great Smoky Mountains, NC
The weather in this location is warm and pleasant depending on the time of year, making it ideal for relaxing. The Great Smoky Mountains are ideal for a babymoon because of the pleasant weather, numerous activities, breathtaking views, and soothing ambiance, as well as the fact that it is a budget-friendly trip.
– Jenny Ly
16. Florence, Italy
Before the baby arrives, take that romantic trip to Italy you’ve always said you would. The picturesque capital of Italy’s Tuscany region is known for its culture, architecture, and fascinating history. Elevate your trip with a stay at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, a five-star urban resort minutes from the Uffizi and the Duomo. Dine on the Arno River: A quiet dinner for two may soon be a thing of the past.
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a memorable meal on the private fourth-floor terrace of the Ponte Vecchio – Florence’s signature bridge. The hotel enjoys exclusive access to the bridge’s only open-air terrace, where guests can indulge in a four-course meal designed by Michelin-starred chef Vito Mollica. (Available May through October.)
17. Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale [offers] more spas per capita than any other U.S. city, Scottsdale is a logical destination for pregnant guests seeking R&R. Between massages, pedicures, and pampering, visitors can kick back at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, taking time to explore the golf course and area’s culinary scene. [They offer a] “Hello Baby” Package – with comforts from the luxury casita accommodations to the complimentary maternity pillow, moms-to-be are guaranteed to leave Scottsdale feeling rejuvenated. The resort’s special babymoon package includes a credit for poolside mocktails, maternity massage, or comfort food classics at the Proof restaurant.
– Gianni Lai
18. Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia is much closer to the U.S. than most people think, the city of Cartagena, also known as “Cartagena de Indias” is located on the Caribbean Sea, in the northwestern part of the continent. Bringing together the charm of colonial architecture, fascinating cultural festivals, and lush landscapes, Cartagena de Indias brings together the perfect babymoon experience. Framed by its stunning bay, Cartagena de Indias is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved cities in the Americas.
Casa San Agustín [is a] luxurious small hotel restored and reimagined for a new generation of travelers, Casa San Agustín echoes Cartagena’s fresh contemporary style and colorful Caribbean sensibility. From original frescoes in the library to centuries-old wood-beamed ceilings in the guest rooms, Casa San Agustín’s art and architecture evoke the city’s rich history as a 17th-century Spanish stronghold. The hotel’s Aurum Spa offers traditional Hammam treatments for increased circulation, the release of tension, and nourishment for the skin.– Pro Colombia
And this doesn’t even begin to cover all the destinations you might consider for your babymoon, as anywhere in the country could make for a great destination depending on what it is that you’re looking for. Additionally, where you choose to travel will depend on how far you are in your pregnancy.
Be sure to consult with your OB/GYN for any additional tips on how to travel safely during your pregnancy. Safe travels!
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Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
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.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
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In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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