There are several iconic black leading ladies many of us grew to love and sought to emulate in the 90s. My favorite femme fatale during that time was a lawyer by trade, called a Brooklyn brownstone home, and had three homegirls standing to her left and her right who held her down through the ups and downs of being a single, sex-positive power woman in the Big Apple.
Maxine Shaw's brash humor, chic box-braided undercut, love of food, and sassy confidence drew audiences closer and closer to the TV every week, providing a unique depiction of femininity and ambition that held its own in an ensemble cast of entertainment powerhouses.
Erika Alexander is the woman behind giving life to Maxine, lending her acting ingenuity and experience from working on sets of shows, including The Cosby Show and Law & Order, to the role. Since those days, she has continued to hold her own in Hollywood, acting in the Oscar-winning film Get Out, the HBO hit Insecure, and the hit OWN drama Queen Sugar. She's even taken her talents beyond the small screen, walking the presidential campaign trail with Hillary Clinton and producing her own comic book series.
When I got the chance to interview Alexander for an xoNecole exclusive, I went into full-on stan mode and was happy to catch up with her just as she was completing a Philly stop for the Keep It Colorful initiative, a collab project with her company, Color Farm Media, crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark and Black & Sexy TV. The initiative, one Alexander is very passionate about, seeks to give filmmakers of color a platform to get their projects green-lit.
"Everyone keeps talking about this so-called 'renaissance,' but [I think] it's not a renaissance. It's a resurrection---restarting what happened at the end of the 90s where we had black casts being successful in the world," she said. "We thought we should get together to invite creators of color to---from a grassroots point of view---fund their own projects. We chose streaming series. We've gone to many cities in America---Raleigh, Philly, Compton, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and Cleveland. It's been really successful."
In addition to her current endeavors, Alexander talked more about the 90s role that inspired a generation of future independent go-getters, why she chooses the roles she does, and why she rides hard for keeping Hollywood honest by working to level the playing field for creatives of color.
Women are still inspired by the Living Single narrative and I know my friends and I tried to follow the show's example after college. It was literally life imitating art. How do you feel today when people say that you're such an icon in terms of portraying a strong black professional woman back then?
I think that that's a great compliment and it's really flattering to hear. I understand it because when I was growing up, there were very few black casts and the ones that were out there we revered. I loved Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, 227---I loved them. But we often didn't see any young people who were engaged in careers. Living Single was after A Different World and The Cosby Show. Both did a great job, but [Living Single] was one of the first times we saw young black professionals on their own, engaged in the world, not only in their careers and their autonomy as individuals, but [they were] also sexually free to be who they were, which is a big deal. So I understand how people might look at that now and still want that. It resonates with young people because they really do want a picture of successful, youthful images, but what it also says is there still must be a dearth of them, and that's unfortunate.
It's definitely unfortunate. But the good news is that you've since gone on to act in other projects that push the envelope and tell diverse stories, including Get Out and Queen Sugar. What factors are involved in choosing the roles that you take?
Well, you know, I wish it was just a choice. It really is what comes to you and then what you end up getting sometimes. I think that I try to choose roles that have some kind of substance or something unique about them in that the character will be fun to play.
For the most part, it's about whether they are coming to you and offering you a role that they think aligns with you. There are just too few roles for the amount of actors out there. And there are way too few roles for the amount of black women out there because you're also competing with the so-called diversity choice---which can be Latinx, Asian, or East Indian. Suddenly, that opens up a [population] of other actors and actresses who are competing for the same role.
"I try to choose roles that would be interesting, but they also have to choose me."
That's an issue as well in that 'diversity' has broadened in meaning in almost all industries, especially in entertainment and media. How will your company and your own efforts address those issues of inclusion and opportunity?
With Color Farm Media, one of the reasons I created a space that I thought would promote inclusivity and diversity is because I knew that there was a lack of it. So we go around and we call ourselves the Motown of film, television, and tech.
"Our mantra is to provide a pathway of success for creators of color that is outside of the mainstream---not only in marginalized communities but also the new majority, which is made up of communities I just mentioned, as well as [LGBT.]"
There's also huge ageism in Hollywood. If you're over 45 and haven't gotten your career going, they feel like you don't exist. There are many people who are going to great lengths to get some rhythm and get their projects seen, but it's very difficult. We think that is absurd. There's nothing that should put you outside the bounds of being a powerful creative, and that's why Color Farm exists. We want to make sure that we connect with these people and create a space online where they can [be educated], have a way to promote [their projects], and be successful in entertainment careers.
You're a veteran in Hollywood and still making boss moves in the industry. With the challenges that exist for black creatives---in front of and behind the camera--how can young women get their foot in the door and successfully launch a career they can sustain?
I believe you have to prepare yourself, if you are a person of color or woman of color, to get those jobs. Find internships or ways to practice, whether it's in your hometown [or Hollywood]. [Build] a resume that reflects what you might want to be a [director of photography] or grip or someone who does lighting---you need that practice. And there are people who are willing to give you a shot if you approach them and say, "I need more experience," or "I'd like to shadow you or get on your set and volunteer."
"We must do the best we can with what we have---the best way we can. We can align ourselves with people who are committed to [diversity] and there are people who, if you just ask, would say, 'Sure, we can make a space for you.'"
It's a corporate culture, by the way, so just because it's Hollywood and we're on film and doing television, it's still corporate. Wherever there's a corporate structure, there's a lack and there's invisibility that's inherent and we need to break it down.
For more of Erika Alexander, follow her on Instagram.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy