Coco Jones On The Power Of "No" & Freeing Herself From The Fear Of Being Labeled 'Difficult'
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Coco Jones On The Power Of "No" & Freeing Herself From The Fear Of Being Labeled 'Difficult'

Coco Jones’ journey through the industry has often tried to be silenced by the masses, but she never allowed her voice to go unheard. From early exposure as a child star on Disney Channel’s Next Big Thing competition and Let It Shine with Tyler James Williams and Trevor Jackson to using her personal platform to advocate for darker-skinned Black women at the hands of colorism, the R&B crooner hasn’t shied away from the opportunity to be seen in spaces that weren’t meant for women like her.

However, there was once a point in time when young Jones didn’t have the same amount of confidence in her decisions. Surprisingly, Jones admitted to me that her relationship with boundary setting and even the word “no” was not always a close-knit relationship.

“Over the past few years, I have grown to love the word 'no,'” she told xoNecole. While she admitted that she used to think it was a “very bad word” associated with being difficult to work with and diva-like behavior, she now knows that there’s nothing negative about setting boundaries and doing what’s right for yourself. “I literally would not [say 'no'] because I didn't want to be perceived that way, but I think knowing your worth makes a 'no' [a] very useful word. Being confident that the opportunities that are for you will be for you makes ‘no’ a safe word.”

Jones continued, “I think standing firm on your boundaries helps with being courageous, and being courageous is similar to being confident. I think they go hand in hand. You have to believe that you will [still] have good things. You have to believe that the right people will come into your life when you push out the wrong people. That takes courage, which I think in turn builds your confidence.”

Courtesy of Pure Leaf

While the word is only two letters long, it carries a lot of impact, and when using said word, sometimes you have to deliver it subtly sweet. Enter stage left, Jones' partnership with Pure Leaf for a second year in a row to dismantle the myth that saying "no" has to be a sour, instead of sweet, experience for the person delivering the package and receiving it.

Last year, Jones introduced viewers to the Subtly Sweet "Hotline," where the singer helped callers achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and bold boundary-setting. Fast forward to 2023, Jones is seen taking her acting chops to the small screen as she stars in "As Seen on Pure Leaf" – an in-faux-mercial promoting the power of "no," via Coco's TikTok and on Peacock's Streaming Service. When presented with the idea of partnering with Pure Leaf, Jones was instantly aligned with the brand based on her industry experience and "what it takes to really survive as yourself and to not lose yourself," she explained to xoNecole.

"Overall, it just really is a useful tool. I think so much of our lives, we feel this pressure to succumb to what people say we have to be or to people please," Jones continued. "I love that me and Pure Leaf are very aligned when it comes to saying no and being okay with staying true to your boundaries."

As a Black woman in the industry, Jones is no stranger to the trope of being labeled as the angry Black girl or the difficult diva in the entertainment world just because she wanted to say the once-deemed ugly two-letter word. Now, Jones uses her platform loud and proud to show her fans and followers the power of standing firm in your power and setting your boundaries. As a public figure, she recognizes that she has a sense of responsibility to the younger generation following her to be as true to herself as possible.

“I am on a platform, and I think my fans and honestly, the world, can really tell what's authentic and what's forced, especially with social media and all of the constant content that's out there,” Jones added.

“People would be steered incorrectly if they were to see me succumb to the pressures and be somebody that I'm not authentically, after all of this time.”

For Jones, choosing the road less traveled in an effort to remain authentic and true to herself is more satisfying than being someone that the industry would attempt to mold her into. “It was more important to choose the longer route, if it meant saying 'no' to the necessary things so that somebody watching my journey can feel motivated to continue to be their truest self in their journey, no matter how long it takes,” Jones added.

Joe Scarnici / Stringer/Getty Images

While she was growing up in the public eye, Jones admitted to xoNecole that she didn't experience much pushback because she was "so happy to be doing any of the roles." Rather than standing her ground, Jones did not want to jeopardize the opportunity to be in the room. Fast forward to her adulthood, she uses the strength that she has accumulated to become more in tune with herself and her voice to set her boundaries and subtly, sweetly "put people back in line."

Day by day, Jones practices boundaries by working on herself internally - including all aspects of emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being - and being aligned with the "why's" in her life. "I think one of my non-negotiables in general that is across the board is dishonesty. Especially being a child of this industry, I'm so traumatized by lies. I just can't," Jones admitted.

"I need honesty in all regards, even if it's a harsh truth. I respect people telling me truths that are not that easy to say because I hold honesty in very high regard. That's one of my non-negotiables in everything - personal, friendship, relationship, business."

For her supporters who may want to practice setting their own boundaries but don't want to sound too brash, Jones suggests practicing with yourself before going straight into the lion's den with others. "Honestly, practice in the mirror as well. That's something that I do. I will write down my points, and they will be very articulate, very educated, and then you can't push back because I've already practiced in the mirror," she added jokingly.

Specifically, when it comes to her role as Hilary Banks in Peacock's Bel-Air, Jones admires her character for being someone who doesn't fool around when it comes to her boundaries being crossed. While the original Hilary, portrayed by Karyn Parsons, didn't originally look like Coco Jones, the "ICU" singer adored the Zillennial fictional Bel-Air princess for her confidence, decisiveness, and not taking shit from anyone when it comes to following her own dreams.

Tim Mosenfelder / Contributor/Getty Images

"One thing about Hilary, she knows how to set her boundaries very subtly [and] sweetly. She might be a little salty too, but that representation can change the outcome of someone's lives. I wasn't necessarily intimidated; I was more honored that I got to do that," Jones said. "I really do learn from Hilary how to be a boss, to be decisive, to be self-assured in places where you have to stick up for yourself."

Retrospectively, before Jones and I closed out our conversation, I asked her where she could personally improve on her boundary-setting practices. "Lord, is this therapy?" she laughed. While I assured her that our conversation is a safe space, as it always is whenever we chop it up, she thought back to the notion of mixing business with pleasure and the idea that the political is always personal.

"I need to work more on my boundaries with friendship and business. I think a lot of the times, you get so comfortable working with glam and people really close to you. They'd start off as business, and then you become friends, and you're like, Let's hang out, but then it's like, Okay, now I can't say the thing that bothered me in the business side because now we're friends. What do I do?" she added. "I need to work a little bit more on my boundaries of keeping those lines clear and not blurry."

For more of Coco, follow her on Instagram @cocojones.

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