Nobody really needs yet another reminder that the past year or so has been rough. We have more than enough articles, blogs, podcasts, and social media updates to remind us daily that life can throw you some real curve balls, forcing you to either hit or strike out. But even when you strike out, there's always that next throw—that next chance—when you can always turn things around.
Media personality Erica Cobb has remixed the whole concept of a comeback into a revival of determination where you think, "What loss? Failure? Where?" As co-host of TEGNA's Daily Blast Live, host of her own platform, Comeback.TV, and co-host of podcast Who Cares What They Think, she unapologetically sits in her truth, whether tackling conversations about xenophobia and colorism or chatting with women about their biggest moments of redemption.
Cobb, who has more than 15 years of skin the media game, once faced an almost three-year battle with depression, financial hardship, and employment challenges after losing a very high-profile job. She eventually found a way to take her own career lemons and make them garnish for one hell of a comeback margarita, now hosting a nationally syndicated show and giving voice to women of color who have also beat the odds.
She sat down with xoNecole for an exclusive interview to tell us the how, when and why of that journey, and how you can be the comeback star of your own story:
Image by Kymora Jaxson Photography
xoNecole: You're an experienced media professional who, in addition to your day job, started your own platform, Comeback.TV. You've also continued balancing several projects throughout the pandemic. What has that experience been like?
Erica Cobb: I always like to say [that] the comeback is never over because if you're a growing person, there are obviously going to be some setbacks along the way that you're going to have to, you know, come back from. The interesting thing about just how I started this brand, I was really the antithesis of where everybody else in my life or my peers were. I seemingly was failing when everyone else was really thriving and what I noticed, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, I just sat down. I sat down with my husband, and we had a conversation. I'm like, I know that this is going to be a year of loss and a lot of lack, but I know that this is where I thrive. So, I'm anticipating really growing myself, my career, and this brand over the next year. And that's pretty much what happened.
I ramped up who I was having on my podcast. I made a completely separate social media supplement to the podcast so that people could get it where they were. A lot of my people are on Instagram and Facebook, so I wanted to make sure that I was meeting the moment with them. At the same time, I also had to think about growth and what people were asking for, and what they were really asking for was a voice that would be confident in not only representing them, but representing them as just normal people. So when Lindsey Granger, my co-host, and I were like, 'Hey, we have this time, let's create something,' the first thing I said was, 'If we're going to do this, we're going to see this thing out.' That's when we created [the podcast] Who Cares What We Think. We're almost a year into it now, and that has seen a lot of growth as well.
xoNecole: We're always fascinated with processes and the steps to things. Many of us get stuck because we don't really know the how-to of getting unstuck. So, what's your process in terms of motivating yourself to continue creating your own opportunities and pushing past obstacles.
Erica: Well, I want to be cognizant of not being like, "Well, this is what you should do and [what] everybody should do," [because] obviously not all of these things are going to work for everyone. The genesis of me having my studio and producing comeback was that I had gotten into this pattern where I was laid off about every three years—either my contract wasn't renewed or I just was no longer going to stay with a company.
What I promised to myself was that I was going to find a way to become self-sufficient, because you'll notice when things go left, when things are out of your control —like you're working for someone else and they lay you off, or you're in a situation where there may be one person who can do their job and your job, so now your job becomes obsolete—it's always someone else making those decisions. And six years ago, I decided that no one else was going to make those decisions for me.
When you say that, people generally are like, "OK, but you can't just quit? Are you independently wealthy?" And the answer's no. But when you have to [push through], you always do. So when I had to figure out how I was going to make money as a radio personality who didn't have a radio station to work at, that's when I switched the script. So I always say, look at what your gifts are and look at where your talents lie. What makes you a great candidate to a third party? Why do they want you as a part of their team?
And then really look at that gift for yourself. How can I do what I do best for my own brand and company? There is going to be a niche for you that you can be self-sufficient in. Find your gift that everyone seeks you out for, and then invest in yourself. And when I say invest, that does not mean money. Investing mostly in the beginning is going to mean your time.
xoNecole: So, true! Investing in yourself plays a big part in shifting the plan when there's a major career transition, and you've had several successful ones. What was the common factor that helped you ride through them all?
Erica: I used to own a hair extension company, and it was myself and a partner who was actually in the beauty industry for quite some time. I had decided I was going to do that full-time and take a break from media. So I did that for a couple of years, and we built this store and this brand, and it was something that I was really proud of. It was also the first time that I physically saw something be built from my work, you know. There was an aesthetic piece to it. What I learned from that was there are a lot of elements that certain industries, like health and beauty, [where] they will do these, you know, big conferences and continued education, and anything they needed in order to get new clients or to learn new techniques.
Being in that space made me think about the continuing of education. The truth is, if you're in media, there are so many things that the generation that's coming up behind us know. It's second nature to them—social media marketing, etc. All these things are second nature for them, but for me, it's not. So, it's the idea of always thinking about how you can continue your education and what that means.
The other thing is, I think that people do not give themselves grace, and they expect things to happen overnight.
I stepped away from a job where I had 1.8 million listeners every single morning, but when I started doing content, I was lucky if I got 18 views. And a lot of people made fun of me, and they were like, 'Oh, how the mighty has fallen.' But you know, at the end of the day, I have my own brand, and I was able to increase by 65 percent during a pandemic because I was used to doing this thing consistently and not caring how many people watched it or didn't watch.
So I think that's something that's important, too. Give yourself grace. Don't fall into that 'I'm embarrassed by what's not happening.' Be really proud of what you're able to do because eventually it's all gonna come together.
For more of Erica, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image by Kymora Jaxson Photography
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This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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In the ever-evolving world of music, Black women are owning the scene and rewriting the rules. From soulful beats to empowering lyrics, these artists are not just making hits; they're also dropping gems on their self-care practices and career game-changing moments. In this exclusive feature, we delve into the worlds of four remarkable talents—Victoria Monét, Coco Jones, Flo Milli, and Maiya the Don—who have not only risen to prominence but are also setting new standards in their respective genres.
The music industry has witnessed a renaissance with the emergence of these gifted artists, each contributing a unique sound and perspective. Victoria Monét, celebrated for her soulful R&B creations, has captivated audiences with her enchanting vocals and lyrical prowess. Meanwhile, Coco Jones has seamlessly transitioned from Disney star to a formidable force in the music scene, demonstrating her versatility and commanding presence. Flo Milli brings a fresh sound to rap with a distinct sound and flow, while Maiya the Don stands out with her catchy lyrics and unapologetic confidence.
These talented women have not only achieved success in their respective genres but have also become advocates for self-care and champions of important career lessons. As we explore their journeys, we uncover the secrets behind their self-care routines and the invaluable lessons they've learned along the way.
My admiration for Victoria Monét's artistry began in 2019 when her single "Ass Like That" captured my heart. Fast forward to 2021, "Coastin" marked a pivotal moment, earning her a spot on the 2022 BET Awards pre-show. Attending the FLO concert in April 2023, in Atlanta, I witnessed Victoria Monét's heartwarming support for emerging talents as she presented flowers to the UK-based girl group.
June 2023 saw the release of "On My Mama," solidifying Victoria Monét's industry presence, and is still climbing the charts peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In a recent interview, she shared the personal journey behind the song, written during her struggle with postpartum depression in 2021. Notably, her daughter Hazel Monét, at just two years old, is the youngest Grammy nominee in history for her vocals on "Hollywood" from Victoria's album Jaguar II.
With seven Grammy nominations at this year’s awards, Victoria stands as the second-highest nominee, trailing only behind SZA. As the anticipation builds for the 2024 Grammy Awards, it's evident that Victoria’s exceptional contributions to music will take center stage, adding another layer to my journey as a fan.
When asked about the biggest lesson in her career, Victoria shared insights into her longevity in the business.
“I feel like the recurring theme is just being consistent. Keeping at it because, in this industry, nothing is overnight. It's the consistency and motivation to keep going. Striving to be the best and see yourself where you want to be,” she exclusively told xoNecole.
From her infectious smile gracing Disney Channel screens to her recent captivating portrayal of Hilary Banks in the reimagined Bel-Air series on Peacock, Coco Jones has undergone a remarkable journey since her early days in the spotlight. Witnessing her evolution, especially for those who grew up watching her on the small screen, has been exhilarating. Now armed with a Grammy nomination and a soul-stirring EP titled What I Didn't Tell You, released on November 4, 2022, Coco Jones has transcended being just a familiar face to become a formidable force in the entertainment industry.
The narrative of Coco's transition from Disney Channel darling to a versatile artist making waves in Hollywood embodies her resilience and talent. Fans and critics eagerly await the next chapter in her career as she seamlessly navigates between roles and mediums. Let's not overlook the impact of her hit single "ICU," a game-changer that secured her a well-deserved spot on the Billboard charts, peaking at an impressive #62. This not only marked a significant milestone in Coco's career but also highlighted her undeniable talent and versatility as an artist.
When we asked her about the biggest lesson in her career, Coco had this to say about her multi-talented career journey.
“The biggest lesson that I've learned is that sometimes things aren't gonna make sense, but you still have to go through the confusion to get to the end result,” she said. “And then hopefully things add up, and even if they don't, you learn something about yourself, so just keep going through it.”
The first bar that made me fall in love with rising star Flo Milli was “Dicks up when I step in the party.” Her distinct flow on beats speaks volumes about her artistry, bringing a unique dimension to each composition, whether it's navigating bass-heavy tracks or exploring more melodic tones.
A pivotal moment in Flo Milli's career was the collaboration with Baby Tate on the anthem "I Am," resonating with women everywhere. Its empowering message and infectious nature led to viral popularity on TikTok, turning it into a cultural phenomenon. During her first tour, You Still Here, Ho? Flo Milli's live performance transcended traditional hip-hop boundaries, offering a journey through beats and bars.
The added perk of a meet-and-greet package provided a personal connection, allowing fans to meet the artist behind the music. The culmination of my admiration for Flo Milli reached new heights during our interview at the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards, solidifying her enduring impact on the modern female hip-hop scene.
We asked her about how she prioritizes her self-care in the midst of her “Thanks For Coming Here, Ho” tour and preparing for her highly anticipated upcoming album, Fine Ho, Stay.
“I make sure I get massages every two weeks. I always make sure I keep facial appointments. Of course, you gotta keep up with yourself, but also prioritizing time to have fun,” she explained. “I was working crazy straight for years, and I was like, ‘Damn, before you know it, I’m not gonna be young anymore.’ It’s very important to prioritize being happy in life and making sure you're doing what makes you happy.”
Maiya the Don
In the heart of Brooklyn, where vibrant energy meets artistic innovation, Maiya the Don has emerged as a musical force. Her rising star status gained momentum with the TikTok sensation "Tefly," captivating global audiences and showcasing the unique blend of style and sound that reflects her proud Brooklyn identity.
"Tefly" not only introduced us to Maiya the Don's undeniable talent but marked the beginning of a remarkable musical journey, leaving an indelible mark with her distinct voice and genre-defying approach. Building on the success of this viral hit, subsequent singles like "Dusties" and "Keep it Cute" showcased Maiya's versatility, solidifying her breakout star status and reflecting the rich cultural tapestry of Brooklyn.
We asked her about how she prioritizes her self-care in the midst of going on tour with Flo Milli and dropping her first EP, Hot Commodity.
“One thing about me, I'm going to get my lashes done, hair done, nails done. I love to be pretty. That's very important to me,” she said. “I always tell my team they don’t get paid if I'm not there. So you have to let me take care of myself and then we'll tend to the other things because if not, then you don't get a check.”
As we navigate the diverse and dynamic landscape of Black women in music, the stories of Victoria Monét, Coco Jones, Flo Milli, and Maiya the Don serve as powerful testaments to their resilience, creativity, and undeniable impact. From enchanting melodies to fearless rap verses, each artist brings a unique flavor to the industry, contributing to the ever-evolving narrative of Black excellence in music.
In celebrating their journeys, we not only recognize their individual accomplishments but also honor the collective strength of Black women shaping the future of music. Through triumphs, challenges, and moments of unapologetic self-expression, these artists inspire a new generation, reminding us that the power of their voices extends far beyond the notes and beats—they echo the vibrant stories of empowerment, authenticity, and the unwavering determination to break barriers and redefine the standard. As we bid farewell to this musical journey, let their voices reverberate, creating a harmonious resonance that amplifies the essence of Black women in the rhythm of the industry.
Feature image by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy