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Since her Peloton debut in May of 2020, Chelsea Jackson Roberts, Ph.D., has become one of the most sought-after yoga instructors on the app. Using a mixture of hip-hop, R&B, classical, gospel, house, and funk-themed classes, the Dayton, OH native guides Peloton users across the globe, in the weekly practice of feeling connected with the body and the breath as they “root down and rise up.” With many leaving her classes feeling more grounded and anchored than they were when they started, it’s easy to see how the former Lululemon Global Ambassador and two-time Yoga Journal cover star has made such an impact. While her background as a third-grade school teacher and founder of Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp lends to her influence, her journey to becoming a world-renowned celebrity yoga instructor was not met without tragedy.
Following the sudden death of her best friend to gun violence, Chelsea says that it was yoga that helped her to confront the trauma of losing someone so close, so abruptly. Yoga empowered her to open up and embrace how her body showed up. Over time, the practice went from stretching on a mat to becoming a lifestyle, and one that she even integrated into her third-grade classrooms to help her students cope with their traumas as well.
In this interview with xoNecole, Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts discusses how yoga can be used to heal from traumatic experiences, ways to remain grounded, and how yoga has set the tone for other areas of her life.
xoNecole: What made you decide to start practicing yoga?
Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts: I first met yoga as a senior at Spelman College. But I never actually went into a yoga class because I was quite intimidated. It wasn't until I graduated, and started moving through my early adulthood that I began to practice.
I was a third-grade public school teacher in Atlanta and it was during that time, I tried my first yoga class. My understanding was completely physical. I thought it was only a workout and that I would burn some calories and sweat in my hot yoga class. It was later in life that I found out yoga was so much more.
I also started to go deeper into meditation, which supported me through the trauma of losing one of my closest friends and Spelman sisters to gun violence. So it was definitely a journey that evolved that started as a workout and later became an integrated lifestyle for me.
xoN: How did yoga help you to move past that trauma?
CJR: I don't know if I moved past it, or confronted it. When we go through trauma, our bodies naturally go through a 'fight, flight, or freeze' [response]. And more than anything, I think I was numb. I hadn't reached out to a therapist and this was the first time I had experienced trauma that abrupt and of that magnitude. When I was in those yoga classes, I remembered something happening that allowed me to really connect with how I felt in the moment. It allowed me to embrace my body and how it was showing up.
There were mirrors in the class that allowed me to look at myself, in my eyes, and I started wondering what would have happened if I went back to that first experience of practicing yoga and feeling really whole. And then I used that to confront and embrace the experience that my body, my heart, and my mind were going through. And honestly, the more that I practiced yoga, it opened me up and supported me to begin to talk about what I was experiencing.
I then sought professional help from a therapist. It helped me lean into my faith and my community. So I think that yoga more than anything was this tool that opened me up to so many other ways of supporting me through the trauma.
"When I was in those yoga classes, I remembered something happening that allowed me to really connect with how I felt in the moment. It allowed me to embrace my body and how it was showing up... And honestly, the more that I practiced yoga, it opened me up and supported me to begin to talk about what I was experiencing."
Courtesy of Peloton
xoN: In addition to yoga being a tool to open you up, what were some other benefits?
CJR: If you know yoga, it’s centered on the breath and a moment for us to pause to allow ourselves to take that deep inhale. To this day, I tell my students that even if they even have one minute of connected breath, you are practicing yoga. Yoga simply means to unite, to join, and to yoke. When you use the practice of yoga, you are essentially allowing yourself to feel fully connected to the body and the breath, so that when you move into the action in this world, you're coming from a more grounded and anchored place. And so those are some of the tools that I pulled from the practice for me to even navigate and articulate what I was experiencing through that trauma.
Even in my classroom, as a school teacher, it opened up how I showed up for my students who were also experiencing traumas. I was in a Title 1 school where the majority of the students lived below the poverty line, and there were moments they were struggling. So I began integrating some of what I learned in those yoga classes. That's when I started creating this trajectory of exploring yoga as a tool for communicating and learning, and even unlearning things in this life.
xoN: Given the traumatic events that have happened within the past few years and the overall trauma that Black women endure, what other ways can yoga be used to remain grounded?
CJR: I love this quote, and if you ever hear me speak about some of my teachers, I always say that James Baldwin is a teacher who–though I may not have met in the physical–has certainly influenced the lens that I use in this world. I always paraphrase this thought that he had which goes, “Once we understand our own suffering, we can then understand the suffering of others, and from that place, we can move deeper into love.” In my own lived experiences, unless I was able to confront that pain, that trauma of losing my best friend in my early adulthood, my life will be a lot different in how I interact with understanding the trauma that I would later experience and the trauma of other people.
For me, I think that yoga can be a tool to get us to be honest about who we are and the reality of why we are. And not blaming ourselves, even for some of the social inequities that we experienced in these bodies. Yoga helps me to seek out the truth. It helps me to look into my ancestry and read literature that contextualizes what it is that I'm experiencing right now.
There's a sacred text called, Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The first sutra talks about nonviolence and that's the first approach that I always encourage–especially for first-time yoga practitioners–to move through so that you're not hard on yourself and your yoga practice. Also, truth and integrity. If we integrated these ways of seeing the world and how we interact with each other, I think that we would have a lot less injustice and the traumatic events that we've seen in this world.
"Yoga simply means to unite, to join, and to yoke. When you use the practice of yoga, you are essentially allowing yourself to feel fully connected to the body and the breath, so that when you move into the action in this world, you're coming from a more grounded and anchored place."
Sara Haile Photography
Courtesy of Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts
xoN: You mentioned the social inequities that we experience in our bodies. And I know that oftentimes, bodily trauma can cause us to feel disconnected from ourselves. Have you ever felt disconnected from your body and how did yoga help you to repair that connection?
CJR: I have been very public and transparent about the loss that we experienced at the end of last year when I was pregnant for the first time. I felt really disconnected. It was a time when I really had to dig deeply into my yoga practice and not blame myself for what happened. But what I could do was embrace the fullness of my experience. And that's why I talk about it.
Yoga reminds us that this is a practice that we have to take one day at a time. And yeah, it has certainly helped me embrace the light and the dark, the suffering and the joy, that I often talk about in my classes. So I see yoga as this tool that–especially when we're going through hard things in our own bodies–gives us space to really breathe and take inventory of what it is that we have truly gone through. And over time, we’ll realize that we are quite amazing in the resilience that we have, and the hope.
Also, I want to say that how I teach yoga, I remind people to embrace the unique way that our bodies show up. To translate that off of the mat, I started to consider the unique ways that I could be a parent, had it not happened the way that I thought it would. So that means all of the different ways that you can parent in this world.
To me, in yoga, when I embrace it may be that I need to use a block or prop or a pillow to get into this posture. It may look different than the person next to me in my yoga class. And that's exactly how life is. It may not look identical to someone else's path, but we can celebrate those individual unique ways in order to see our collective union as we move through our life. I like to take those lessons off the mat and into my lived experiences too.
xoN: How has yoga helped to set the tone for other areas of your life?
CJR: When I announced that my husband, Shane, and I were expecting our first child, I was like all of my yoga classes and all of my practices have been for this moment right now. I know that my yoga practice will deeply impact how I show up as a mother. This is a role I've never played in my life, and I'm grateful that I have these tools that I can pull from. When I'm being pulled in different directions, or feeling overwhelmed–because I hear parenthood can be that way–I know that I have these tools to come back to be my anchor and support how my husband and I communicate. And essentially I know it's going to impact how we are as parents, living in this household together, and still working together.
Yoga has definitely influenced how I show up in the world and the voice that I use. If anybody is familiar with the work that I've done, they know that I'm also deeply committed to social justice and cultivating communities. We do that through our nonprofit, Red Clay Yoga.
As Yogis, we are peaceful. But we are also grounded in truth. We acknowledge that equity and equality are essential for harmony. So yoga has impacted and influenced how I show up with my voice in the world, for how I speak out against or in support of different social issues in this world as well.
"I know that my yoga practice will deeply impact how I show up as a mother. This is a role I've never played in my life, and I'm grateful that I have these tools that I can pull from. When I'm being pulled in different directions, or feeling overwhelmed–because I hear parenthood can be that way–I know that I have these tools to come back to be my anchor and support how my husband and I communicate."
Sara Haile Photography
Courtesy of Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts
xoN: I know that you are the first Black Lululemon global ambassador. And from there, you’ve gone on to become a Peloton yoga instructor. How was that transition?
CJR: And ironically, I'm the first Black Peloton yoga instructor. That's something that isn't necessarily voiced aloud. But in spaces where we are really visible, I think that it's important for us to know that we exist everywhere. And by “we,” I'm talking about Black folks, Black women, people of color, or however you see yourself not being elevated in spaces because of your background. It's been a tremendous honor to be that trailblazer in many ways and never forget the teachers who came before me.
So the pivot to being a Peloton instructor has certainly inspired others who may have never considered themselves Yogis. They may have seen themselves as athletes, but to see yourself as a Yogi can be quite intimidating because of the flexibility that’s articulated in pictures or magazines.
But I’m hoping that people come into my class because they felt the intention that I said and that we can all be welcome to this practice. That's why I rely on unexpected musical genres in yoga spaces. And being at Peloton has afforded me the ability to cast a wider net and get yoga out there even more.
For more information on Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts, visit Chelsea Loves Yoga.
Featured image by Sara Haile Photography
October is a month of balance. With some energy moving direct and some energy moving retrograde, there is a middle ground to find this month between what is unfolding and what you are letting go. The month begins with Mercury officially moving out of retrograde and going direct in Virgo. Mercury this month is cleaning house and sprucing things up after the somewhat tyrant energy it’s brought over the past few weeks. Now that Mercury is direct, there is less interruption when it comes to daily flow and plans, and this is a good month to start setting things into motion.
On October 9th, there is a Full Moon in Aries, which is the Hunter’s Moon of the year. This Full Moon is cleaning what is in the way towards your direction and positive movement forward and is a time of building momentum. The Moon in Aries is feisty, and this is a passionate Full Moon. Both Pluto and Saturn go direct this month after being retrograde for the past few months. Pluto will be direct in Capricorn on October 8th and Saturn goes direct in Aquarius on October 23rd, what this means for the collective is fewer power struggles and more opportunities to come together.
Toward the end of the month, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in Scorpio on October 25th, and it’s as magical as it sounds. This Solar Eclipse is a time of emotional rejuvenation and transformation, and new doors are opening. Jupiter retrograde in Aries moves into Pisces on October 28th and is taking some heat off fire and air signs, and impacting water and earth signs more now. Jupiter retrograde in Pisces asks you to check in with your modes of healing, spirituality, and emotional regulation and to make sure your beliefs are stronger than your doubts.
As the month comes to an end, the infamous Mars in Gemini transit makes some moves and goes retrograde from October 30th until January 12, 2023. Mars retrograde in Gemini is wildcard energy and it’s best to remain flexible with what’s occurring at this time. Things are up in the air and Mars is giving you the clarity on what to grab ahold of or where to redirect your energy. October is a time of new beginnings and a change of pace.
Aries Horoscope for October 2022AriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
You are reaching a pinnacle of achievement this month, Aries. October is a month of evolution as you move into the next chapter in your life. You have been through a time of growth and have turned your challenges into stepping stones to your success. With Jupiter retrograde moving out of your sign this month, you are getting a weight lifted off your shoulders and a helping hand when you least expect it.
The Full Moon happening this month will be in your sign on October 9th. This Full Moon is a time of re-energizing your spirit, and renewal. Take some time for yourself this day, relax, and gather your strength. You deserve a moment to just be and breathe before you walk into the new doors that are opening for you now. This month is all about living in your empowerment and aligning with your synergy, Aries.
Taurus Horoscope for October 2022TaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about getting out of your head and into the moment, Taurus. Your guidance for the month is to focus on the bigger picture, connect with the heart spaces, and take note of the gifts in your world. You are solving some puzzles in your life this month and coming to your own conclusions rather than letting anyone else form them for you. This is a month of learning more about where you stand and where you want to continue to plant your roots.
There is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your opposite sign Scorpio before the month ends and this is an awakening time for you in love. You are gaining clarity on how your heart is expanding right now, by the reflection you are seeing in others. There is playfulness, love, and connection that wants to come into your life more this month but it’s all about perspective and seeing the opportunities in your life.
Gemini Horoscope for October 2022GeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about reclaiming your power, Gemini. This month you are being reminded of the power you hold as a creator in your life, and that the value you hold for yourself, sends out energy externally. Use your time and energy wisely, and remember that you always deserve a seat at the table. With your ruling planet Mercury moving direct at the start of the month, you are moving through October with new experiences and wisdom unfolding for you.
Saturn officially moves direct on the 23rd the same day Scorpio Season begins, and travel plans, opportunities for adventure, and aligning with the higher self are all coming through for you. Mars in Gemini makes its significant transit at the end of the month and goes retrograde in your sign on October 30th until January 12, 2023, and you are entering a major growth spurt of learning more about yourself, your goals, and the direction you are headed right now.
Cancer Horoscope for October 2022CancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
Things are moving full speed ahead for you this month, Cancer. October is a month of opportunities for you, and you have the Midas Touch right now. This is the month to fuel your spirit, and to follow through on some dreams you have been looking to come to fruition. With Mercury officially moving out of retrograde at the beginning of the month, you are able to get the message across right now and are putting your best foot forward this month.
There is a Solar Eclipse happening in your fellow water sign, Scorpio, on the 25th, and this Solar Eclipse is opening up a new chapter in your life when it comes to your happiness. This Eclipse is here to highlight where your heart is, what is making you happy, and where you truly feel free in your life. With Jupiter retrograde moving into Pisces a few days later and into your 9th house of adventure, you are being guided to be flexible this month and remain open to the possibilities you encounter.
Leo Horoscope for October 2022LeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rejuvenation for you, Leo. After somewhat of a chaotic past few months, the fog is clearing and you are seeing things in a new light. This month is a time of being recognized for the beauty and creativity you inspire in this world and it’s about allowing yourself to receive love right now. You have given so much to others recently and this is beautiful, but this month you are being reminded to allow others to share that love with you as well.
The New Moon Solar Eclipse this month is happening in your 4th house of home, family, and foundations, and you are seeing breakthroughs here. Over the next six months, you are going to be entering a new stage of your life when it comes to those closest to your heart, and the places that make you feel at home. By the end of the month, Jupiter retrograde enters Pisces, and you are leaving the month thinking about the commitments that are being formed in your life at this time.
Virgo Horoscope for October 2022VirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
Virgo, this month is all about flying high and being the leader of your life. You are rising above any previous chaos or challenges that Mercury retrograde has brought into your life, and experiencing a new sense of freedom this month. With Mercury going direct on October 2nd and being direct in your sign until October 10th, you are entering the month seeing things come full circle and a positive change of pace in your life. There are less roadblocks on your journey moving forward, and things are flowing your way.
With the energy moving into Scorpio towards the second half of the month and the attention moving towards your house of communication, self-expression is key in October. This month you are getting the messages and answers you have been looking for, and it’s making it easier to communicate and express yourself. New connections are coming into your life this month, and these are situations you have been hoping for. Remember that you deserve to take up space this month, Virgo.
Libra Horoscope for October 2022LibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your season is here, beautiful Libra, and this is your time! Libra Season is in full swing as you enter October, and with Mercury going direct at the beginning of the month after being retrograde in your sign and in Virgo, you out of most really benefit from this change of pace. The mind is clearing, opportunities are popping up, and plans are falling into place. There have been some adjustments and reworking in your life, but this month you are seeing how your plans and intentions have worked out for the best for everyone involved.
The Full Moon this month is happening in your opposite sign, Aries, on October 9th, and will be highlighting your 7th house of love. You are closing one chapter in this area of your life during the Full Moon, and preparing for the new. As you have been regrouping and gathering your strength, in mid-October you are ready to let go of anything holding you back from truly experiencing partnership, unconditional love, and everything you need in a relationship, and you are making space for new experiences in love.
Scorpio Horoscope for October 2022ScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about balance for you, Scorpio. You have been learning a lot about perspective this year and how one thought can change things for you both positively and negatively, and this month you are experiencing the final lessons of this chapter. This is a month of being a master of your reality and creating the circumstances you want for yourself. There is a divine coming together happening in October, and there is a lot of beauty and magic to enjoy in your life this month as the energy moves into your sign.
Venus enters your sign and Scorpio Season also begins on the same day, on October 23rd. With the Sun and Venus coming together and shining just for you, you have a lot of love coming your way this month and you have taken the time over the past few months to clear your energy, making space to receive this love and empowerment in your life. Before the month ends there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in your sign on October 28th, and you are experiencing major breakthroughs and epiphanies in your life.
Sagittarius Horoscope for October 2022SagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is bringing a windfall of blessings into your life, Sagittarius. October is a special month for you as the intentions you have been setting come to fruition in your life and you gain a new sense of stability. One door opening is leading to many other positive experiences for you, and the more you keep up this energy in your life and believe you are worthy of this good, the more it can enter.
With Saturn officially going direct this month after being retrograde in the area of your life having to do with home and family over the past few months, you are finally getting the opportunities to ground your energy and spend peaceful time in your safe spaces. Find your center, and remember to reach out to others when you need to. At the end of the month, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 25th, and this time for you is all about healing, finding the middle ground, and releasing what doesn’t serve you in this next phase of life.
Capricorn Horoscope for October 2022CapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a new beginning for you, Capricorn. You are at the beginning stages of some important chapters of your life, and this month is an opening to those experiences. Over the past few months with your ruling planet Saturn in retrograde, you have been cracked open and awakening to something beautiful. The vulnerability and grace you have shown yourself even through times when it was hard to see the light, is commendable.
Pluto has been retrograde in your sign since April 29th and finally goes direct this month on October 8th. You are going through the stages of rebirth as you get out of your shell more this month, and let the world see the growth you have been through. Instead of looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, you realized you were the light yourself, and October is about shining that light, Capricorn.
Aquarius Horoscope for October 2022AquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month you are being guided to breathe, and take it one day at a time, Aquarius. This is a month of divine intervention, and situations are moving around to create a better circumstance for yourself. With Saturn moving Retrograde in your sign over the past few months, you’ve gotten a look at things from a higher perspective. Some adjustments and rebuilding were necessary, but you were able to live your life on your own terms rather than according to anyone else’s plan.
October is a month all about being the creator of your life and rewriting your story. With Saturn officially moving out of retrograde and going direct in Aquarius on October 23rd, you get to enjoy the benefits of task-master Saturn for the rest of the year, and there is a sense of achievement and empowerment with you moving forward. Use this month to finalize plans, tie up any loose ends, and get things sorted out.
Pisces Horoscope for October 2022PiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of paving new paths for yourself in life, Pisces. With all of the activity going on in the sky this month, you are finding your way. Mercury retrograde officially goes direct at the beginning of the month, and you get a breath of fresh air in regards to love. Relationship matters start to move more smoothly over the month after a time of Mercury retrograde helping you gain the full picture here.
With a New Moon Solar Eclipse in fellow water sign Scorpio happening this month, you are seeing some massive changes in your life as you move more into the month. The Solar Eclipse happening in October will be moving through your 9th house of adventure and some big plans and intentions you have set for the year are being seen through at this time. Your guidance for the month is to stay focused on what you are creating, and believe in yourself.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole
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No one prepared me for how horny I would be in my late 30s. All the elders in my life prepared me for random chin hairs, weight gain, and menopause but no one said a mumbling word about my sex drive. Something happens the closer you get to forty. I went from wanting sex here and there to wanting it all the damn time. Is there a support group for this? I can’t be the only one who has the sex drive of the Energizer Bunny. Upon my research to figure out why I felt like a cat in heat, I discovered several theories surrounding women and our sex drives–including one that says the concept of having a sex drive is a myth altogether.
Scientifically, the word ‘drive’ is used to describe the motivational system we have that helps us navigate life or death situations. For example, our drive to find food, warmth or shelter are all things that we need to stay alive. Technically, we won’t die if we don’t have sex–the lack of sex might feel like death but we won’t stop living. Biologists suggest that if sex was fundamentally a “drive” more humans would experience the urge for sex spontaneously like we do hunger. They claim that instead of a “drive,” humans experience and express a desire for sexual intimacy.
I honestly don’t know if libido is a sex drive or desire and to be quite honest I don’t really care. What I do know is that I am not alone in my sudden urge to want more sex. In fact, most women will experience periods of high and low sexual desire throughout their lives. Many believe that our desire for sex is impacted by a range of things such as our lifestyle, healthy habits, like eating a balanced diet, working out regularly, getting enough rest, and our feelings about our partners and relationships. There’s probably some validity to these factors because in my own life, the more comfortable and familiar I was with my body and partner, the more I craved intimacy.
However, despite the many elements that contribute to our libido, I also found that there are certain commonalities that women within certain age categories shared. Women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond experience similar desires (or lack thereof) for sex. Regardless of how healthy your habits are, changes in hormonal shifts seem to be inevitable for women. Are these commonalities psychological, social, and physical or a combination of all three?
To take a closer look, here are some sexual changes women can expect to take place throughout their lifespan.
Your Libido in Your 20s
Our 20s are the young, experimental, and most fertile years. My 20s were filled with Hot Girls Summers and Thot Girl Falls! Based on stats women are more likely to have lots of sex from the ages of 18 to 26. Women are also most fertile during the younger years which can contribute to horniness during ovulation. However, women in their early 20s are sexually unsure of themselves, still figuring out their desires, and how to talk about sex, which could lead to anxiety and low desire.
Your Libido in Your 30s
Many people consider the 30s to be women's sexual prime. According to sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, women have more orgasms in their 30s than at any other time in their lifespan. Oh, Alfred may be on to something because my thirties have been a decade of heightened libido, increased sexual enjoyment, and stronger and better orgasms. Your 30s are the period in most women’s lives that we tend to become less insecure about our bodies. We are more aware of what we need sexually–we know how to get the job done ourselves and how to coach our partners.
We also tend to be more eager to explore and try new things. Research also suggests that the increase in sex drive in the 30s is caused largely by the body’s biological clock. A lot of women have children in their 30s. Wanting to get pregnant means sex and typically lots of it.
Your Libido in Your 40s
Most of the women I know in their 40s say that their sex drive is the strongest it’s ever been. Apparently, the increase in sex drive that begins in our 30s continues until our mid-40s. One study showed that women between 27 and 45 had more frequent and more intense sexual fantasies than younger or older women. As you start going through perimenopause, your body's testosterone remains unchanged, while estrogen decreases, creating a high testosterone to estrogen level in your blood. Testosterone can perk up the sex drive, creating a desire for sex more often. So basically my horniness won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, got it!
Your Libido in Your 50s
Your 50s are the menopause years and we all have heard the stories about menopause. Most women experience a significant decline in sex drive, along with weaker orgasms, reduced sexual function, and vaginal dryness, because of menopause. During menopause, estrogen levels begin to decline. As a result, hormone shifts can lead to menopause symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings—all of which can shrink sexual desire. These hormonal changes often lead to vaginal dryness, which can cause pain with sex and lower libido. In conclusion, keep a fan handy and try to make it through the best way you can.
Your Libido in Your 60s and 70s
The best surprise I’ve ever received is when I realized that older women still had active sex lives. I pretty much assumed that menopause was where great sex went to die. It wasn’t until I began having conversations with women in their 60s and 70s that I began to realize they still pussy pop—albeit not on a headstand but their pussy is still popped. Many women in their silver years feel like they know their bodies better than they ever have, allowing for more gratifying sexual experiences. However, other factors start to impact overall health during this decade that can lead to a decline in sex.
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Da’Vinchi has appeared in many television series such as All American and Grown-ish but it was his role in BMF as Terry Flenory that helped propel his career forward. Since starring in BMF, he made his Broadway debut with Thoughts of a Colored Man and is currently shooting an undisclosed movie in Vancouver. The 26-year-old actor is beginning to see the fruits of his labor and so it’s hard to imagine that he almost went in a different direction. Da’Vinchi spoke with xoNecole’s Dana Blair for our xoMan series about acting, being a sapiosexual, and protecting his peace.
The Brooklyn native was involved in sports when he was young but shared that he was also headed down a destructive path. It wasn’t until he moved in with his father at the age of 13 that he began to focus on his love for the arts. “They say when a man finds his life’s work, that’s where his purpose is, and honestly, me finding my life work is what saved my life,” he said.
xoMan: Actor Da'Vinchi On Self-Care, Fame, Love, and His Type
“It gave me purpose so I have to take my career as seriously as I take oxygen–the oxygen I breathe. It’s like my entire living circumstances have changed. I went from one dimension to another based off me really taking my work so seriously. I could never not take that seriously. To me, it’s one of those things… It’s like my heart. I have to take that serious.”
He added, “At the end of the day, that’s what got me through a lot. And now it’s become bigger than me that it’s affecting people around me. My mother’s retired now. She’s chilling. There’s certain things people around me don’t even have to do anymore. So it’s like I gotta take this serious.”
Da’Vinchi credited changing his environment, reading, and staying centered as the foundation to having a thriving career. The Alchemist and Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success are two of his favorite books that have impacted his life. “I practice meditation and prayer, that stuff religiously, you know what I’m saying? Because I understand like this business is… it’s an interesting business,” he said about the acting industry.
“It’s an interesting world. There’s a lot of people that have different perspectives on a lot of things and it’s just like I just try to stay centered in what got me here so I just keep doing those things. And I know that’s going to keep propelling me.”
As a tall (he’s 6’3''), dark and handsome man, the Haitian-American actor has also garnered a bevy of female fans. But according to him, he doesn’t look at himself as a sex symbol. “No. I mean, I’m appreciative of it,” he said. “It was with Grown-ish. I was like damn, people are really seeing me like this? I was like, man this is interesting. I just see myself as a person, that people kinda like but I’m not. Chris Brown is a sex symbol. All those R&B singers. But me, I’m a person.”
While his relationship status is unknown, he did share what he looks for in a woman.
“I definitely do [have a type.] I think if you’re a person and you don’t have a type, then it’s like you’re just drifting through life aimlessly,” he explained. “I’m big on the brains and smarts. And not just book-smarts. And of course, I’m not just going to sit here and act like she’s just gotta be this nerd and I don’t look at looks at all. No, of course, I look at looks as well.”
He continued, “To me, what’s bigger than just the ‘eye test’ is the brains. The way I really start to get connected with a woman, it’s her mindset. It’s her mindset. When I’m like, ‘Yo, I can really build with this shorty, you know what? This one right here. This is a keeper.’ And you don’t find that a lot of times because a lot of times women will think men are just heavily–like we’re beings that are really just programmed to only want the body.”
“A lot of us are like that and that is our instinct from nature but I think some of us are more evolved than that now. And we’re not that primal anymore. So if you want a good man, I think you should work your brain because that right there is where longevity comes from. Anything that’s physical, that deteriorates. I go straight to the heart, soul, and mind. And that right there, I’m a sucker for.”
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Featured image by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images
If you have been on social media for any significant amount of time this year you may have come across women saying that they are in their “villain era.” For these women, being a villain means embracing the negativity and judgment from others that comes when you say “no” to people, and living your life unapologetically. For them, being a villain means letting the chips fall where they may when you no longer allow other people’s ideas about you to restrict you from living the life that you want and deserve.
Of course, none of this sounds particularly villainess or evil. The phrase that has picked up in popularity over the past year is primarily tongue in cheek. It signifies the ways that women have been made to feel bad when they exercise any type of autonomy over their decisions, be it in their professional, romantic, platonic, or familial life.
Especially as it pertains to Black women, wickedness is always projected onto us, especially when we set our boundaries and stick to them. To be a Black woman who’s leaning into our inner villain means more than just eating an extra pastry or going on a solo trip; it’s doing the internal work of unpacking all the ways we have resigned ourselves to a life that is not our own. It’s about learning just how much of the negative lens people look at us through is influenced by white supremacy and misogyny and doing all we can to not see ourselves through that lens by navigating against those ideals.
Every so often, Black women are given a signal of sorts that reminds us and gives us permission to prioritize ourselves and our own mental well being. I’m reminded of when Rep. Maxine Waters famously said, “Reclaiming my time,” and the words reverberated outside the halls of congress and into the lives of Black women everywhere. Our time is being wasted; it’s time to get it back.
So sis, if you are currently looking for a sign for you to free yourself from the mental bondage that has been taken, then here it is: take your life back. Whether you’ve lost years of your life to depression or abuse or trying to adhere to societal pressure, it is never too late to start again. There are so many things in life that are out of our control; so many tragedies and traumas that shape the person we’ve become; so many larger forces that try to keep us tethered to a life that doesn’t serve us. So get the haircut, quit that job, leave that relationship but also: dismantle the systems that have led us to feel evil for simply putting ourselves first, and unchain yourself from the world that creates these unfair perceptions of yourself.
Get your licks back and then some -- even if that means being the villain in someone else's story.