Meet Bridget Kelly--the gorgeous and feisty New York native known for killing the live performance of “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z .
Now six years after being one of the first signees on Roc Nation in 2008, Bridget has left the label, and let's just say that being an independent artist sure looks good on her.
Doing the infamous "big chop” after her label breakup, Kelly went from being a long-haired brunette to a pixie cut blonde, and her music is also reflecting her newly found confidence. She recently released her new EP, Summer of 17--an ode to a simpler, more carefree time in her life.
Kelly tells xoNecole that she’s the happiest and most at peace that she’s ever been. As she approaches 30, she’s still the life of the party and is the voice of reason for women to know it’s okay to still enjoy life without the pressures of marriage or kids.
Whether you’re an aspiring artist or you’re just trying to figure out what comes next, get your tissues ready because Kelly’s story is a real tear jerker! As she prepares to take Summer of 17 on tour in the UK as well as the east coast, learn how leaving Roc Nation was liberating professionally as well as the chance for her to be in control of creating the life she’s always envisioned for herself as an artist.
What do you now know about yourself that you didn’t know when you were seventeen?
The biggest mistake that I’ve consistently made throughout my adolescence and early 20s is I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my intuition, and I let too many people sway me in different directions; I was really malleable. I gave a lot of people the benefit of the doubt of knowing what was best for me. I now trust myself and I know that it’s okay to go through a trial and error process, but at least I have the peace of mind and the confidence to make a choice that I know at some point whether now, or later is going to be beneficial for me.
In an interview with The Breakfast Club, you said, “At 29, I rather be poppin' bottles instead of poppin' out babies.” Most women feel pressured to be married and have kids by age 30. How have you taken that pressure off of yourself?
I would be lying if I said that at some point I don’t want to have a family. The pressure is definitely there, but I’ve found that I’ve always been a late bloomer within my circle of friends. I can take pride in the fact that I’ve made decisions that have worked for me. I recently went on a bachelorette trip and three out of the five girls were engaged or married. I like being the single fun girl. I wouldn’t say I’m the life of the party all the time, but a lot of times I am and I think that’s okay. People can be themselves and have a good time around me and I rather eternalize that than focus on the assumption that I’m “lacking” something.
[Tweet "Not having a man or a husband doesn’t mean you “lack” anything. "]
I think that’s the unfortunate stigma about being in your 30s as well as your 40s. A lot of women seek validation from a relationship. If I’m not validated by any of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished or all of the things that I’m doing for myself, a boyfriend or a husband isn’t going to validate me. So I’m not actively pursuing it.
Your new single “Act Like That” with Mack Wilds will be every woman’s new anthem. How does your thoughts on men and love translate to your music?
I love being in love. However, if something doesn’t work out or happen for me in the timeframe that I want it to, I’ve learned to just let it go. I now take a less intense approach to relationships because I want it to feel natural; I want it to be a normal progression.
I’m a control freak by nature so typically I would drive the relationship, but I’m at a point in my life where it needs to be on cruise control. Summer of Seventeen was really special for me because conceptually I felt like I was back to being a teenager again. I want to be able to flirt and feel the butterflies and the romance of a new relationship. “Act Like That” with Mack Wilds is the battle of the sexes. As a woman, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and being able to navigate your way through it.
You’ve mentioned that you left Roc Nation after six years because you felt your career had reached a plateau. When you’re a new artist how do you find a balance of speaking up for yourself and what you want for your career as opposed to falling back and doing whatever the label and the executives think is best?
New artists should understand and accept that most people aren’t out for your best interest because at the end of the day, this is a business. You can lose sight of that when you get caught up in the industry and in the process of trying to make an album. People still have this delusion that when they get signed they’re about to make a million dollars and life a certain kind of unrealistic lifestyle and it doesn’t work like that.
New artists should know, no one is against you but most people are out for self, they want to make sure they’re going to win. So you have to be very clear and concise with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page with your execution. What’s missing in the process now with labels and artists is development. They want to sign a total package. They don’t want to sign you then have to help you figure it out. Labels expect you to come to the table already prepared and that’s really difficult when you’re young and you may not know who you are as a person.
But if you know yourself, you know what you want to say and you know the power of your voice then any scenario you’re placed in, people will either take what you have or they won’t. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from Lady Gaga. She said.
[Tweet "'Stop asking questions and start making statements!'"]
When you make statements, people have no choice but to embrace and absorb what you’re bringing to the table or they can walk away from it but ultimately what you’ve created, people have to respond to and that’s the power of being an artist.
You’ve said you’ve gained more confidence in the past 10 months as an independent artist than you had in six years at Roc Nation. How did you know it was time for you to leave?
I finally began to trust myself. I felt like it was time for me to go maybe a year or two prior to me actually making the move, but I was scared. As an artist, when you’re attached to something for so long, it’s kind of like being in a relationship in the public eye, when you want to part ways and be your own entity, there’s a lot of fear associated with that. I wondered if people were going to accept me, are they going to care? Are they going to judge me and think I’m crazy for walking away from Roc Nation? I was paralyzed by that fear for about a year. With the execution of my last EP, Cut to Bridget Kelly, it wasn’t at all how I wanted things to go and I realized it was no longer my dream or my vision that I was living; I was just going through the motions. I remember Jay-Z saying to me, 'When you stop having fun, it’s time to quit.’ And I definitely wasn’t having fun. I felt like I was begging to release music, begging to get in the studio or get on tour and nothing was going how I wanted it to go.
Granted, initially I wasn’t being as proactive because I was expecting other people to do it for me, which led to me being unhappy. So when the time came for me to leave and have that conversation, everyone was on the same page. It took a lot of pressure off me because everyone was really supportive of me. It was probably the most amicable breakup I’ve ever had!
But don’t get it twisted after I left, I absolutely hit rock bottom. I went through months where I didn’t know what I wanted to do next.
I didn’t know how I wanted to sound or who was going to want to work with me. I really went into a slump and the relationship that I was in for four years came to an end, which was partially my fault because when I was really unhappy, I pushed him away. I also parted ways with the management team I started with nine years ago. So at that point, I had no label, I had no man and no management. I remember thinking if one room is on fire, I’m just going to burn the whole house down! That was the moment when most people would have been like, ‘Enough. I’m going to quit. It didn’t work out for me. I can walk away from everything and start my life over.’ Within that time I got called to headline a show in London and it sold out, the line was around the corner.
Removing myself from my environment here and being able to go to a different country where no one knew what I was going through personally--I was falling apart--but to have people connect to me and my performance reaffirmed where I was supposed to be. I hired a new team, started working my album and I starting writing again, which I hadn’t done in a year. I started working out again and eating better. I began seeking things that made me feel good as opposed to trying to fill voids.
The filing of voids is what got me in trouble in the first place, I was just doing everything that came across my path but nothing felt like me anymore so I got back to doing things that were really fulfilling.
While you were going through your transition, how did you maintain your mental health and positive self-image?
Working out and being fit is more for my mental health than anything else. I have stretch marks and cellulite, but I don't care!
Going to the gym, sweating and being able to push myself to be better than I was the day before is powerful. I’m continually recognizing my power day by day, because it’s still a struggle. I'm an independent artist.
[Tweet "I know a lot of people have counted me out but I wake up everyday and I fight."]
Things aren’t perfect, but I think I’m the happiest and the most at peace that I’ve ever been.
I’m more confident than ever because I know that everything that’s happening around me is what I’m building. I’m not reactionary anymore, I’m proactive. Everything that’s going on in my life, either I made a decision to put myself here or I’m reacting differently. I now know who I am. If someone had asked me five years ago where I thought I would be today, I would have never guess here but there’s a lot of beauty in every aspect of the journey.
You recently switched up your style from being a long haired brunette to being a blonde with a pixie cut! For your new fans, who is Bridget Kelly and what’s the message behind your music?
Be free and happy!
The stigma that gets attached to you when you do soulful R&B music, is that you’re this love scorned, bitter, broken hearted woman all the time and you’re just struggling to be loved and I’m not that girl.
I’ve had those moments but that’s not what I embody. That’s not the essence of who I am. Sonically, my music is soulful; it’s coming from a place of pain and it’s also coming from a place of victory and I’m proud of that.
When you were seventeen, how did you go about getting your record deal? With such an influx of social media, it can be overwhelming for an aspiring artist to figure out what platform they want to use to get notice, what would you advise them to do?
At 17, I was performing at any open mic that would have me. I brought a speaker and a microphone and I went down to the L train station in NYC where I would sing, pass out CDs and ‘I heart B.K.’ t-shirts. Ultimately, because I went to a performing arts high school, those connections helped me get my foot in the door. One of my classmates was interning at Def Jam, she met someone who was looking for an artist. I recorded a demo and within two years, we had a direct contact to someone at Roc Nation. The label had just started and it was me, J.Cole and Rita Ora.
For new artists, you can post your music on every social media outlet but most importantly, you still have to be able to perform live. If you can put on a good show, people will gravitate towards that. There’s a saying that people will never forget how you made them feel. Good performances are influential; once you can capture someone’s attention in that way, you’re on the right track.
Want more Bridget Kelly? You can support her new EP 'Summer of 17,' which is available now on iTunes.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Can you believe that we’re literally just a few weeks away from 2024? I know I can’t. Hell, I still remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and even what I was wearing when we all rang in 2000 — and now, look at us. *le sigh*
Anyway, the reason why I decided to pen this particular piece is because I’ve got some women in my world who like to be up on the latest beauty (and fashion) trends, long before others are — and so, I penned this with them (and the women who are just like them) in mind.
If that is indeed you, please take out a sec to check out some of the things that will be pretty damn popular when it comes to make-up, hair, and even nails next year. All are relatively affordable (except for maybe one), all are easy to implement into the beauty routine that you currently have, and as a Black woman, all are ones that you can step out in and totally dominate with.
Are you ready to check out 12 beauty trends for 2024 that you can show the world as soon as today?
Beauty Forecast: 12 Beauty Trends Set to Dominate 2024
1. Side Parts
Although I’m a “middle/center part” gal myself, and a trend isn’t really gonna change that (LOL), if you are a huge fan of side parts, those are gonna be all the rage next year whether you choose to wear your hair up (which could create a side fringe) or down.
Something that’s cool about this particular look is, if you’re someone who happens to have fine hair and you want to create some volume, a side part can create that for you. Or, if you’re in the process of trying to grow out your hair and one side is longer than the other (which is completely normal, by the way), instead of constantly cutting the longer side (in order to make everything “even”), a side part can give the illusion that your hair is a bit asymmetrical…on purpose.
2. Colorful Eyeliners
Whether you want to make your eyes the focal point of a particular make-up look or you want to add something that can seamlessly take you from day to night — eyeliner has you covered. In 2024, rather than going with a traditional neutral color, seek out ones that are as bold and bright as possible. You can use a bold blue on your waterline to give your eyes more depth (if your eyes are a dark brown, it can make them stand out more, too) or a neon color to make a “winged eye” that could be fun when you’re going out with your girls. This trend is basically a reminder to have fun with your make-up next year. Life is short…why not?
Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
3. Mushroom Extract
Something that was building in popularity last year that will get even bigger next year is mushroom extract being added to skincare products. Apparently, the properties in mushrooms can do everything from deeply hydrate and soothe irritated skin to brighten up dark spots where hyperpigmentation may be an issue. Since mushrooms are rich in zinc (which is great at treating acne and eczema), selenium (which helps your body to produce antioxidants) and several forms of vitamin B (which reduces aging signs) — it would make sense that this vegetable would get its moment in the beauty world spotlight.
A word of caution, though: if, like me, you have a fungal sensitivity, do remember that mushroom is a fungus, so…to be on the safe side, this might be a trend that you’ll have to take a pass on.
4. Three-in-One Products
It wasn’t too long ago that CNN published an article on some of its editors’ favorite “multiuse” products. That’s because something else that you’ll be seeing more of is people opting for beauty-based items that they can use for more than just one thing: eyeshadow that can be used as a blush and maybe even a lip color base or foundation that also works as a concealer and finishing powder as well. If one of your plans is to ring in the new year with at least one less junk drawer, you can always get more space in by purchasing three-in-one beauty products. It’s an ultimate hack on a few different levels.
5. “Random” Rhinestones
The feature image for this article? The reason why I chose it is because it’s something else that is gonna be big in beauty over the next several months. Sure, rhinestones are pretty common on the nails (and sometimes even on eyelids); however, you’re gonna see them being randomly placed on hair, the face, the arms…chile, everywhere. So, if you’ve already decided that next year is the year that you really want to make a statement, add some rhinestones to some of your looks. Hell, invest in some Swarovski crystals while you’re at it; they definitely provide a solid “bling” effect!
6. Balletcore Nails
If you adore the look of super feminine nails, then this trend has your first, middle, and last name all over it.
If you’re wondering what the heck balletcore nails are, they’re nails that are designed in such a way where they look very similar to a ballet slipper — the shape of the shoe and color. The dope thing about this trend is, as far as the hue of pink and length of nails, you can totally customize it to your liking.
Anyway, I think we’re gonna see a whole lot of this in 2024 — so why not stroll into the holiday season with a set of ‘em?
7. Hair Ribbons
Speaking of ballet, when it comes to the signature hairstyle (the bun), it’s pretty common to see hair ribbons that are wrapped around them, right? Well, when it comes to hair accessories, ribbons are about to be EVERYWHERE, y’all. Ribbons interwoven through braids. Ribbons tied around ponytails. Ribbons used as headbands. So, if you’ve got a daughter and you like to dress her tresses up with ribbons, looks like she’ll be sharing them with you in 2024. Have fun!
8. Biodegradable Beauty Products
The mere fact that, in America, 350 metric tons of plastic is wasted on an annual basis — that should be reason enough for us to want to be more intentional about supporting the sustainable side of the beauty industry. A specific way to do that is to purchase beauty products that are biodegradable. From what I’ve (briefly) read and researched on the topic, because this is still a relatively new trend in the cosmetics world, some companies are abusing “biodegradable” in the way that a lot of food companies misuse the word “organic.”
Still, if you want to get more into doing what’s best for the environment as far as your own beauty products are concerned, looking for ones that are vegan (a cool list is here, here, and here) is a great place to start.
9. Embellished Chrome Nail Designs
Although I personally don’t wear it a lot (when it comes to make-up), I do like the look of chrome. It has a way of being modern and yet timeless at the same time. Plus, it’s very sleek and works well with the various skin tones of our ethnicity quite well. And even though chrome-polished nails have been around for several years now (as far as popularity goes), the next few seasons are going to showcase chrome nails that have designs on them or an upgraded French manicure where the tips are chrome (you can see an example of what I’m talking about here). I could see this look getting you a lot of compliments for Christmas. Just something to keep in mind as your holiday party invites get ready to roll in.
10. Genetic-Based Beauty Items
Are you wondering what the heck “genetic-based beauty items” are? I feel you. If the first thing that comes to your mind is genetic testing that, people get to find out more about their DNA, apply that to the cosmetics world, and there ya go.
Bottom line, as futuristic as it might sound, the beauty industry is now getting into genetic testing so that people can discover what works best when it comes to their own personal pigmentation, how their skin ages, and what their specific hair needs may be.
11. The Look of Minimalism
Sometimes, I’ll just sit on YouTube and look at different hair and make-up tutorials — just for fun. And when it comes to mastering the “no make-up, make-up” look, Sincerely Zee (here), Dimma Umeh (here), Tea Renee (here), Naakie Nartey (here), and Fatima Bah (here) all did a pretty impressive job (with the look and showing you how to create it for yourself.) Yeah, one of my favorite things about the whole minimalism trend is it’s such a standout reminder that less really can be more, in the most visually beautiful ways.
12. The Color Red
I’m a fan of color psychology. So much, in fact, that I wrote an article on it for the platform back in the day: “Understanding Color Psychology Will Sharpen Your Lens On Life.” Well, when it comes to the color red, whether it’s on your nails, lips (Black women look STUNNING with red lipstick on), even eyes — it’s the shade that’s gonna be hard to beat next year. I ain’t got one problem with it either since red represents things like love, passion, sexiness, desire, and strength.
In fact, I can’t think of a better way to walk — or strut — into the new year than with that kind of energy, can you? So, whatever you do, remind yourself to pick up a few red cosmetics. You’ll be the belle of the ball for the holidays, for 2024, and when it comes to life, in general, if/when you do. Now get to beauty shopping, sis!
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Featured image by Yana Iskayeva/Getty Images