Brian J. White has been a consistent face in so many of our favorite series and films. I still remember his character's crazy but sexy relationship with Olivia Pope on Scandal. And who can forget him repping the Theta's in the college classic Stomp the Yard
Well, today, he's gearing up for the release of a new one, Ambitions (which makes its premiere Tuesday, June 18 on OWN). The story digs into how far people will go to make their desires come true, even when it endangers their relationships and more. Brian has a juicy storyline playing Atlanta Mayor Evan Lancaster, who is very dedicated to his own aspirations. But in real life, the 46-year-old is a successful happily married family man with a passionate perspective on ambition and relationships.
In our chat, we discussed his views on career-focused women, marriage, and advice for singles and serious couples alike.
In your own words, what makes an individual ambitious?
I don't think ambition is connected to achievement, I think it's a desire or want. Every person on earth has ambitions but not many achieve them because of what it takes. Ambitions explores what's required. It portrays those that achieve it, those that struggle with it, and everything in between.
What do you think about the theory that people should be with someone who matches them, in reference to achievements, finances, education, and etc?
I think that's a misuse of the word, "matches them" could be exchanged for "suits." Some people think if they're a doctor they should be with a doctor, or if they're a lawyer they should be with a lawyer. They want someone "on their level" and I think that's why a lot of people aren't in the right relationships. They've put boxes on a potential prospect that could fulfill them based off on what they think their soulmate should be. Get rid of the boxes. The tighter they are, the less likely you are to meet the actual fit for you. Our partners are complements of us; they're not mirrors. If you're meeting someone you can already conceptualize, they're adding nothing to your life.
Courtesy of Brian J. White
"Get rid of the boxes. The tighter they are, the less likely you are to meet the actual fit for you. Our partners are complements of us; they're not mirrors."
When you met your wife, were there characteristics you were looking for, or personality traits you felt suited you?
I was not looking at all, and she had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and didn't want to date either. My dad always told me, "Wait until you just can't stay away from someone. Never go looking for a relationship when you're a young and successful man. Wait until someone comes and derails you off the path." When I met my wife, I kept hearing his voice saying, "This is the one." So, I started changing my life to prepare and be everything I felt she deserved in a partner. What was most attractive about my wife was that she wasn't interested in me. She was a corporate woman who was very into her career, and I was a little actor guy (laughs). We just became best friends first and everything fell into place.
With her being so career-focused, do you think her ambition was part of the attraction?
Absolutely. I have five younger sisters who all have their degrees. They are five black, beautiful, strong, and educated women. When I was at Dartmouth, one of the things the women were proud about and would openly discuss was that they didn't have to necessarily use their degree. They would go to Dartmouth and then law school and knew they could make millions or become President, but also desired marriage and family. I saw that in my wife, she didn't need to be in the position she's in, she wanted to be. That was very attractive to me. Also, that she wasn't looking to date. I met her at my home. I was living with a female housemate (separate floors) and she simply came over to visit one day for dinner, we met casually.
Interesting, so when women exude that they’re looking to date, is that a turn-off?
For me, yes. I think a woman's most attractive state is when she's doing her thing. You see her pride, beauty, elegance, and everything. It might be a lunch break from her business or art job. That's when she's most powerful. When you're at the club for example, it's like an African Serengeti, everything is a target and you're out there with a gun. Any of those typical situations, like dating apps, you're assuming no emotional connection. Unless your true goal is only physical, the best place to meet people is in their natural life. Like when I met Paula, I was at home.
Courtesy of Brian J. White
"I think a woman's most attractive state is when she's doing her thing. You see her pride, beauty, elegance, and everything. That's when she's most powerful."
How did you know she was the one?
My Dad passed last year, and I included this story in his eulogy. He used to have these sayings, two-word sayings. One was, "you'll know." Well, Paula and I had been dating a few years and it was going well. We had talked about long-term but hadn't got to marriage. Anyway, one day we were sleeping and suddenly, I'm awakened to this booming voice of my dad saying, "Jodi (he used to call me Jodi), you'll know."
I’m a sap, so I’m loving this. But I must ask, what were some of the hardships and struggles you two went through?
Travel and separation for sure. The first time I worked with Boris and Nicole they taught me about the two-week rule. What makes couples not work is distance. You're not familiar with each other and you end up starting the dating process over and over again rather than furthering it. So, my wife and I ended up with the 10-day rule for most of my career, and we've maintained it. We almost always travel as a family.
If you could give a piece of advice to couples looking to make the step toward marriage, what would it be?
Well, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. It's a partnership and a contract. Make sure you know about each other's health, debt, and credit issues. What do you each own? Do you want kids, what religion are you raising them? Are you both social? Do you like to smoke weed and drink whiskey, your partner may need to know that. Long-term, all these things matter. And you must talk about all of it before you get married.
You can catch Brian J. White starring in Will Packer's Ambitions coming June 18 to the OWN Network.
For even more of him, follow him on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Brian J. White
Kirby Carroll grew up in VA but now calls Atlanta, GA home. She has a passion for creating content and helping brands grow through storytelling and public relations. When not immersed in work, you can find her sipping a mimosa at brunch or bingeing a new TV drama on Netflix. Keep up with her on social media at @askKirbyCarroll.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images