What is a healthy example of love? If you really think about it, how was love shown to you growing up? Do you even know how much your childhood affected your love life as an adult? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves because, let's face it, we all want that love story we've seen on TV or in the movies—even if we aren't saying it out loud. But who's to say we are making the right moves to find not just a relationship, but a healthy one?
Whether you are team Love Jones or team Martin and Gina, how we perceive a healthy love can be based on so many things. And that is not excluding our upbringing. While love can look different for so many people, as long as we can all acknowledge that love should not feel like a challenge, then, we are on the right track. With the right person, love should be beneficial for both partners physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Periodt.
I recently chatted with someone who believes he grew up with healthy examples of love, which has helped him with how he approaches love and dating today. And that person, my friends, is actor Arlen Escarpeta. Arlen was born in Belize and moved to the United States at an early age with his mother. He pursued his acting career after college and landed his first movie role in Playaz Court in 2000. After that, he secured several TV roles including one in the legal series Boston Public, as well as police dramas The Shield and Boomtown. He also starred as Bobby Brown in the Lifetime original film Whitney.
Image courtesy of Shamayim
His most recent role is on OWN's coming-of-age drama series David Makes Man, a show created by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight). The drama centers around a teenaged prodigy named David who lives in the projects but tries to navigate his way between his neighborhood and his prestigious school. A newcomer to the series, Arlen plays JG, David's brother, who brings grounding to the young man. He's a rising businessman facing an opportunity that will change him and his community forever. (If you haven't checked out this OWN series, you should. It's so good!)
For this second season, Arlen's bringing the jokes and realness, and he's making the audience feel all the feels. At the same time, in his personal life, Arlen is making sure that he is making time in his love life to be the best human he can be and exude that healthy example of love he learned about while growing up.
xoNecole: In 'David Makes Man,' we see a time lapse between younger versions of the characters and the older version. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Arlen Escarpeta: Well, something I have learned over the years is that procrastination is not the way to go. I am still learning that now. I consider myself a healthy procrastinator. I recognize the faults of it now whereas before, I would just tell myself I have more time. Since then, I have learned I can get a lot more done when I give myself enough time in the upfront to get things accomplished. When you realize that procrastinating is not the way to go, the better off you'll be.
When you were growing up, who was the most influential person in your life and why?
It sounds so cliche and I am sure a lot of men say this, but it is definitely my mother. My father died when I was very young and my mother moved from Belize to the States. Growing up, my mom was the sole provider and she kept the whole family above water. Her tenacity, drive, faith, and her whole spirit is intertwined in everything that I do.
Do you believe that societal pressures of what a man is supposed to be has affected how men and women date nowadays?
I think the pressures of social media have definitely affected the way people approach one another when it comes to dating. Back in the day, the guy that had the best pickup line got the girl. Nowadays it's about sliding in someone's DM and hopefully you get a response. Even though things have changed, I still believe people are still looking for that real connection with someone. It's just wrapped in a different package.
"Back in the day, the guy that had the best pickup line got the girl. Nowadays it's about sliding in someone's DM and hopefully you get a response. Even though things have changed, I still believe people are still looking for that real connection with someone. It's just wrapped in a different package."
Did you have healthy examples of love growing up? If so, what did you learn about love that you apply to your own relationships?
I think I had plenty of healthy examples around me growing up. I am a hopeless romantic. I was influenced by TV too and would see all these romantic gestures. I'm the type of guy that will go out and get you flowers just because. I want my girl to feel special. But what I have learned about gestures is that the simple ones are just as important as the big ones. It doesn't have to be a grand scale gesture all the time. Something as simple as loading the dishwasher can be received and appreciated the same as a bouquet of flowers. My current partner taught me this as well. Love can be simple.
Another thing I have learned from healthy examples of love is knowing when to walk away in a relationship. I learned that from my mother. When my mother divorced my stepdad, she knew that she deserved more. And now she has more. It is about setting boundaries for yourself and knowing when letting go of a person is better than just holding on. You have to do what makes you happy and [know] what is a better situation for the both of you.
Is it important for you to feel safe within your own relationship? If so, what does feeling safe look like for you?
It is absolutely important to feel safe in a relationship. Feeling safe for me is me being able to say whatever I want to say and trust that my partner hears and understands me. Feeling safe is having effective communication. I know we are going to bump heads sometimes. So being able to have a disagreement with my partner one moment, talk it out, and still be able to kiss them on the forehead later on is healthy to me. I honestly believe that if you are not having those uncomfortable discussions in your relationship, then you are not growing.
"Feeling safe is having effective communication. Being able to have a disagreement with my partner one moment, talk it out, and still be able to kiss them on the forehead later on is healthy to me. I honestly believe that if you are not having those uncomfortable discussions in your relationship, then you are not growing."
Image courtesy of Shamayim
What is one thing you think a man should work on for himself before he's ready to be in a relationship?
Having accountability. Men are not always held to the highest standards and can get away with some things sometimes. So, while we are quick to judge others, we really have to look at ourselves and call out some of the things that we do. I think accountability can help men receive what they want to receive and communicate better what's on their mind when they enter a relationship.
What advice do you have for single women who may overthink what it means to impress a guy in dating?
If I am speaking just to women, single or in relationships, I would say that it is important to not misrepresent yourself and let it lead the way. What I mean is, that mask that you put on in the beginning, you are going to have to keep that up. The longer you keep that mask on, the less the man is able to really know you. I know we put on masks mainly to protect ourselves. But when you are comfortable with yourself, it is easier to be comfortable with a potential partner. So you are better off being honest and allowing them to like you/love you for who you really are.
In your opinion, what are your three best qualities that you bring to a relationship?
Just three?! I mean I have a long list! Well, I know I mentioned accountability earlier but I think it is a very important quality to have in a relationship—like being aware of what your flaws are. The other quality I have is to be able to trust. You have to trust your partner and you have to be able to trust yourself. For the third quality, I would have to say I am passionate. You need to have passion in a relationship to keep it going. Passion helps keep the spark alive.
What is one thing that people do not notice about you right away that you wish they did when it comes to love and relationships?
I come across as a "glass full" type person. But honestly, I can be a big old baby. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don't think a lot of people know that about me.
What would you say is your biggest fear about relationships?
Because I am a hopeless romantic, God forbid the relationship ends and my partner no longer views me as a good person. I ask myself, 'Are we able to be friends afterwards or do they see me as the bad guy in the end?' I never want to be the bad guy.
Even when you try to do everything right, there are still circumstances that you have no control over that could lead to a relationship ending. So, with this fear of mine, I try to remind myself it's not about being the good guy or the bad guy. It is about staying true to yourself and putting your best foot forward.
To learn more about Arlen, follow him on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Shamayim
Y'all know we love a multi-hyphenate. Adrienne Bailon is that and then some. Over the years, our favorite Cheetah Girl has remained relevant with evolving identities from singer to actress to entrepreneur. Despite her first dream job of being an obstetrician, Adrienne's emergence as a superstar back in 1999 has proven that she is unafraid to experiment. Most importantly, The Real co-host's mission is centered around authenticity and transparency.
xoNecole caught up with Adrienne Bailon to talk about her beauty routine, the importance of self-care, being a serial entrepreneur, and why her new collaboration with Olay empowers women of color in more ways than one.
xoNecole: Can you spill the tea on your beauty routine and your top three must-haves?
Adrienne Bailon: This is pretty easy. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Hydration is key. I know this sounds super cheesy, but drinking water. I am a crazy water drinker. I actually just recently got one of those reusable big jugs that give you the encouragement. I swear by that. I think that staying super hydrated from the inside out is key to staying cute. Number two, when we talk about moisture, I think so many of us think beauty secrets, we always think about our faces and a lot of us neglect our bodies. I was raised with a mom that straight out of the shower was like, "You need lotion! Don't come out here with ashy knees and elbows." I am so grateful for that.
I am obsessed with Olay Body. They just came out with this new body lotion collection, and it is everything because we've used collagen on our faces; I've literally even done the collagen in the smoothies and put it in our teas and all that kind of stuff. But I'm like, "Why not just put it on our actual skin?" And I'm super excited about their new Olay Firming Body Lotion. I have to say, you actually see a visible difference. I started using it maybe two, three weeks ago, and I already see a huge change.
I love the idea of literally lathering it on and then I'll notice the difference the most in my thighs because they look way more hydrated, way firmer. I suffer from cellulite, so this has been like a godsend for me literally to see a visible difference in the firmness of my skin. For me, self-care is skincare. I take my moment to kind of just do what I gotta do. That is super-important to me. The last thing would be rest as a beauty secret. I think so many of us don't think of that—creating space for yourself to just relax. If you're stressed out, it will show up on your skin.
"For me, self-care is skincare. I take my moment to kind of just do what I gotta do. That is super-important to me."
You talked a little bit about self-care. As a multihyphenate, what does self-care look like for you?
Alone time. I think that in a business where I'm constantly surrounded by people and there's constantly a lot of chaos and talking, I think I really value my alone time. The moments when I get to hear the sound of my own voice. What is it that I want? What is it that I like? I think we don't realize that when we're around people, you watch the shows they want to watch. You listen to the music that they might want to listen to. It's very rare that you'll put on that random quirky song that maybe you just want to hear in the car.
I think that it's so important for me to have alone time. And that's really where I get a lot of my self-care time done, too. Obviously, I have a husband, so I live with someone else. For me, my alone time is in the bathroom. I literally take time to be like, "I'm checking out to go do my nighttime routine. I'm going to need like the next 30 minutes to just not hear anyone else's voice, but my own."
That's so good! Along those lines of self-care, what was kind of the breakthrough moment where you realized you needed to prioritize self-care in a real way?
Oh! Crazy enough, it was 2021, not 2020. In 2020, we were in isolation and it was crazy but when things started opening again, it hit us like a ton of bricks. For me, at least, it was overwhelming. It felt like a lot. I think a lot of us were concerned about finances and feeling like you got to get back into it and strike while the iron's hot.
That whole mentality for me was really overwhelming and that's when I started recognizing like, 'OK, I have to find balance. Yes, the world is open, but there was something really special about the family time that I got.' That's what made me buy a home in New York. It's marvelous having a job in L.A. but this is a place to work. Home for me is going to be where my family is so it was just making those changes during that time that were really important for me.
Absolutely. Tell us why you believe self-care is important for women of color specifically.
Let's get into it, here. It is so important because I think that culturally, I don't think it's something that we focus on. I don't think people discuss the awareness of checking in on ourselves. How do we feel? That's self-care. Self-care for me is literally taking a piece of paper and checking off all the things, "Am I happy? Am I rested? What's stressing me out? What's going on?" Taking inventory of myself. And I don't think that culturally, we take that. I don't think that that's considered. It's like, go, go, go.
If you're not stressed out and hustling and killing yourself, then you're not doing well. I think that sadly, it's a mentality that we have when it comes to work and success. What does success look like? I think for us, it looks like working really, really hard when success can also be just being at peace with yourself and at peace with your life. I don't think we prioritize that nearly enough as much as we prioritize the success of working hard or climbing the corporate ladder and all those other kinds of things. I think self-care for women of color is extremely important because no one else is going to give it to us, but us.
"Self-care for me is literally taking a piece of paper and checking off all the things, 'Am I happy? Am I rested? What's stressing me out? What's going on?' Taking inventory of myself... I think self-care for women of color is extremely important because no one else is going to give it to us, but us."
Yes, you can't pour from an empty cup.
You can not, and you can't expect anyone else to care about yourself like you do. So take those moments that you need. It's OK to express, "Hey, I'm taking a moment for self-care." I think exploring what self-care looks like to you is important too. It's not going to be the same as someone else's. If you are an extrovert, maybe self-care is doing something with a group of girlfriends and that's what you needed. Maybe you need a break from your kids. Maybe you need to have some adult time. Self-care for everyone is going to look different, but prioritizing it should be high on everyone's list.
I love that so much. We talked a little bit about working hard, what does it mean to be a fearless female entrepreneur?
A fearless female entrepreneur, if you think about it, if you're fearless, you're going to go for it. You're not going to second guess yourself. You are going to try it all, do it all, and be it all. There's something really dope about that. I think when we're fearless, we get out of our own way. And when we talk about self-care, I love that Olay is doing this campaign, and it's why I wanted to partner with them because how we start and end our day definitely contributes to how fearless we feel, you know. How fearless we feel in our skin, how we feel about our skin, and what do we do this morning that's going to benefit us two weeks from now. That mindset is so important.
I really do love that saying, "Do something today that your future self is going to say thank you for." I feel like my future skin is going to say thank you, my future mind is going to say thank you. The extra 20 minutes I put into not scrolling on Instagram and focusing on the things I have to actually do—being present— I'm going to be grateful for those things later on. And I think being present can make you fearless because you're living in the moment and not worrying about tomorrow.
I think those kinds of things are really important. And when you're fearless, especially as a female entrepreneur, you tend to not doubt yourself and you tend to actually believe in the ideas that you have, and that's where the success comes.
"How we start and end our day definitely contributes to how fearless we feel, you know. How fearless we feel in our skin, how we feel about our skin, and what do we do this morning that's going to benefit us two weeks from now. That mindset is so important."
Courtesy of Olay
That's beautiful. I love that you're doing this collaboration with Olay. I think it's a great collaboration with two beautiful brands. How has Olay empowered you to show up as your full self?
Oh my gosh. It's empowered me in more ways than one. I think that growing up, it was a staple brand in my home that I saw and now to see it being so innovative in 2021, I think that that in itself is inspirational. It's been around for so long and it's still doing groundbreaking things like putting collagen in a body lotion, putting hyaluronic acid in a body wash. These are things that were new that I wasn't seeing done in any other products.
For myself, especially as a female entrepreneur, to see that is inspiring, I'm like, 'Wow, so you mean to tell me that 30 years from now, I could still be doing something groundbreaking in jewelry and fashion.' Just to see that is super inspiring.
I love what they're doing for women of color entrepreneurs. They've partnered with LISC NYC to really empower women of color, especially in Washington Heights to do amazing things. I love that I am a female entrepreneur. I know what it's like to grow up in the hood and not have the information and the tools to become an entrepreneur. I had to learn so much along the way because I didn't have that knowledge.
I didn't have a mom that I can call and be like, "How did you do it?" I didn't have those connections. Sharing the information is super important and being able to work with brands that recognize the importance of supporting women of color is extremely important.
Wow, that's so good! So, what's next for you? What can we expect from you?
I am so excited we're back for season eight, with The Real. We are back in the studio with the girls and it's just been really special. Spending an entire year of being in Zoom boxes with random delays, we are so grateful that our audience stuck with us through all of that. And then to be back together, although we don't have a studio audience, I actually prefer it, as we're having really deep conversations. There's something really special about it just being the four of us and people that we're used to working with.
There are two cameramen and our stage manager, Sonia, who's been with us since day one. You can have those intimate, difficult conversations in a different way. I think that we'd have the tears on the seasons before but there was still an audience of over 200 people looking at it. It changes the dynamic. And I think it's been really, really special so far. I'm excited! I'm calling this our 'intimate season.' It's just the four of us. The table is gone. It's more casual. It feels special, and I think we're not taking this one for granted at all.
Yasss! My last question is actually about your audience. And how fitting since we're talking about self-care and beauty. So what's the secret lip gloss you use on the show?
OK, she might not like this, but I love a good tingle lip gloss. I love lip plumpers. I feel like if it's not burning, it's not working, so I am a huge fan. There's this brand called BUXOM Beauty. I swear that all their lip colors are life-changing. There's going to be a little tingle factor, but I swear the shine stays. That's the one.
To keep up with All Things Adrienne, check out her YouTube channel. And for Olay's new collection, head over to Olay.com to add some items to the cart.
Featured image courtesy of Olay
Jill Scott has been wowing us with her sent-from-the-depths-of-heaven octave range, tell-it-like-it-really-is songwriting, and addictively intriguing range of Hollywood roles, from the heartbroken abused wife, to the brothel-owning comic-book villain, to the resourceful Motswana detective. So you know we're always here for a powerful on-screen moment from our good sis, whether the screen is big or small.
And in her latest role as angel Angela Stewart on the Lifetime reboot of Highway to Heaven, there's a remix to the '80s classic that makes her that much more intriguing. Who else could take a role about an angel sent to Earth on assignment, popularized by legendary—and white—actor Michael Landon, and give it just the update it needs for today, especially at a time where we could all use a bit of hope and encouragement? None other than the woman who had many of us Googling whether the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency really exists and planning trips to Botswana.
Let's look at receipts, shall we? She hasn't let us down in the life-changing department since her days of defining what it truly means to take up space in music, going platinum and capturing the hearts of millions of Black women who could relate to the powerhouse shutting down her man's ex in those Philly streets, or planning that date to "roll a tree" in the breeze, listening to a symphony. (I hear you humming, sis. Go 'head!)
And she certainly didn't let me down during a recent interview that got cut quite short due to technical difficulties. (Gotta love Zoom. And in whoever's defense, the platform has had its fair share of glitches.)
Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET
In just a few well-spent minutes, sis did what she usually does: unapologetically offered inviting realness that empowered, inspired, and reminded me that authenticity never gets old. (And apparently, neither does Ms. Scott, who looked as youthful as the day she hit the scene more than 20 years ago—rocking box braids with vivid blue highlights, classic gold door-knocker earrings, chic black-rimmed glasses, and a warm, sometimes coy, smile.) It was literally like talking to my favorite sister-girlfriend or rich auntie (in my head) over mimosas at Sunday brunch. And just like in the first few seconds of any song of hers that you'd listen to, it didn't take long for things to get deliciously profound and spirit-lifting.
In this exclusive xoNecole interview, we talked all about the singer-songwriter and executive producer's take on the reboot, how she balances her multiple projects, including her hit podcast, with motherhood, and all the things that make Ms. Scott someone we love to continue to watch:
For those unfamiliar with the classic TV show 'Highway to Heaven,' what should we expect with you in the roles of star and executive producer?
Jill Scott: Expect an imperfect angel. Expect her edges to be raggedy. Expect, sometimes, for her clothes to be ill-fitting. What I discovered along the path of finding Angela (her character) is that angels typically are flawed. It can be the guy who works at the corner store, or your Uber driver. You don't know when or how someone is going to come into your life and make a difference that changes everything. I wanted Angela to represent that.
You've recently talked about being "all of yourself" in your career. What are three things that allow you to thrive wearing multiple hats?
You know that old Kenny Rogers song that says, "You gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em"? That's a key component: Knowing when you need help. That's a big one. Also, understanding when you need a break. That's very, very important because, for some reason, we get this idea that we have to burn ourselves out to produce.
Sometimes you need to take a walk around the block. Sometimes you need to sit down and shut up, and just be still, because that's where inspiration comes—that's where that new wind comes. It sounds poetic, but that's not my intention. I'm telling you how plain it is to me.
And I learned that, as an executive producer—one of several—you have to be mindful of your crew. That means everybody. They need a kind word. They need a genuine 'Good morning.' They need a 'Thank you.' When you create and foster a healthy environment—a caring environment—people work harder. It ain't rocket science. It's not manipulative. What it is is good makes good. It's really that simple. If you can't do it yourself, you make sure there are people around you that are doing exactly that and reciprocating that kind of positive energy. It makes the boat float real smooth.
Along with executive producing 'Highway to Heaven' and, of course, starring in it as well as other projects, you're also an entrepreneur, a podcast host—and the most important, being a mom. How do you find balance within all of that?
For me, it really means having my village. And they don't just show up. Villages show up over time. I have a wonderful village in my life—friendships that have lasted me 20, some 30, some 40 years. Having a village of solid people is very helpful. As a single parent—single, meaning not married—I have to say this: Because of my village, I've never felt like I'm a single parent. I have people around that love us—not just me or just him—and will follow my directives as a parent. It's super-important that I take time to kick it—quality time for just he and I. We go on dates just to hang out, we play games, we listen to music together, we cook together.
And then I make sure he has strong men around him—men that I respect and admire and feel proud of so that he can see that as well. There's a balance to it, always. Having a group of great mothers or great women around is awesome, but there also needs to be, in my opinion, representatives of both sides—the estrogen and testosterone. I think that makes for a well-balanced and healthy person of character, if you will. So, that's what I have to do as a parent, and I have to prioritize that. You only get but so much time with your kid before they're out in those streets.
The Highway to Heaven film series will premiere November 6 at 8 p.m. EST. For more information, follow Lifetime on IG @lifetimetv.
Featured image by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET
In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
Love is beautiful, and if you believe otherwise, then you may just haven't found the right person yet. What I mean by beautiful is that love is a journey that is comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. I am not saying that love doesn't come with its bumpy times because that would be a lie. What I am saying is that when it comes to love, sharing those moments with someone makes the ride called life all the more worth it. Whether it's going on trips, doing adventurous activities, or even relaxing together in the park, those moments are what helps keep the love couples share alive. That is exactly how DJ QuickSilva and Ashley Silva approach their love.
They have been married for 12 years, and they still make sure they have fun and do things together like they did when they met almost 20 years ago. Quick is a DJ and radio host from east Baltimore who is best known on Washington, D.C.'s The Russ Parr Morning Show. He is also the host of The QuickSilva Show, which can be heard weekdays 3 to 7 p.m. EST on both 92.3 FM in Baltimore and 93.9 FM in DC. Outside of DJing, he's the owner of Club Downtown Bmore and has opened a DJ school called The Quick and Eazy DJ Academy, with the goal of providing a curriculum that teaches a wide range of skills necessary to be a successful DJ.
While Quick has become very successful and is still reaching new heights, he was not expecting to find that support system and his partner in "fun" in the love of his life, Ashley Silva.
Courtesy of DJ QuickSilva
Once they got married, Quick and Ashley Silva, creator of the lifestyle brand and podcast @funtimemoms, made sure that they kept dating each other. "I think we lead by example. We really try to show our kids what a healthy marriage should look like. We hope that through our actions and how we live our lives, we inspire our children. We hope that through us, our children see that marriage can work if you allow it to work."
How We Met
Ashley: We met at a nightclub called Hammerjacks. One of my neighbors was the opening DJ and I was driving him to the club that night. I saw Quick there and I thought he was cute. The rest was history at that point.
Quick: So initially in 2002, Ashley messaged me on BlackPlanet.com. She introduced herself and was telling me about a DJ she was friends with. From there, we met in person at the nightclub a week later.
Ashley: We didn't really call ourselves being in a relationship until four years after we met. I used to call it a 'friendlationship'. But I think it started being called a situationship later on. One day, I stayed over at Quick's place and I literally just never went home.
Ashley: I love how dedicated Quick is to everything he works toward. Whether it is for work or for our family, I know that it's going to get done. That really motivates me because there are times where I am not as motivated, but when I look at him, I tell myself, if he can do it, then I can do it too.
Quick: It's hard to narrow it down to one thing. She is the most thoughtful person I have ever met. When I say thoughtful, I mean she goes above and beyond. It could be friends, family, or any person that she comes across. For her, it is really about making other people feel special. She does an amazing job of that.
The Big Day
Quick: We had our wedding in Jamaica and I remember it rained a lot that day. The wedding was also two hours late from starting. But my favorite memory of that day was when I first saw her. Ashley came around the corner and then Brian McKnight's "Never Felt This Way" started playing. Everybody in the room started crying. It was an amazing and magical thing.
Ashley: I believe there's a saying, "If things go bad, the better the marriage." Literally that morning, I woke up with three mosquito bites and I'm slightly allergic. With the rain, my hair was messed up and we had to move the wedding indoors. But the reception was so much fun. It was really the best time.
Ashley: I don't want to say it was love at first sight, but it kind of was. I remember telling Quick years before (when we were in our situationship) that one day he is going to want to marry me. I just loved everything about him. To me, he was the perfect guy.
Quick: There was definitely a moment for me. Back in 2002, Ashley was there for me during one of the lowest points of my life. During that time, when I lost everything, I would ask her, "Why are you still here?" Her response was that she liked being around me. I knew at that moment that she was the one, but honestly, I knew I wasn't ready.
"Back in 2002, Ashley was there for me during one of the lowest points of my life. During that time, when I lost everything, I would ask her, 'Why are you still here?' I knew at that moment that she was the one, but honestly, I knew I wasn't ready."
Quick: My biggest fear before marriage was not being able to provide for and protect my family. A lot of people get married because of love, but I wanted to make sure that I was financially and mentally ready before we took that step. What helped me overcome that fear was reminding myself that Ashley was there for me when I had nothing. Because she was there for me, it let me know that she is not with me for the money.
Ashley: I really never saw examples of long-lasting relationships growing up. Even if they were in a long-lasting marriage, the couple hated each other. That is not something that I wanted in my marriage. I wanted to have a friendship, too. For our children, I want them to see that their parents love each other and like each other. I think they are able to see that even now.
Ashley: The beginning of our marriage was around the time social media became popular. With social media, people have been really mean to me. There were people who said the worst things to me, and I was genuinely shocked about where this hatred was coming from. It really bothered me and it showed me how there are so many people truly unhappy in their own lives.
Quick: We live in a time where most people are pretty unhappy. No one wants to see success in careers or love with other people because that is something that they want. If there is one small thing that someone can nitpick at, that is what they focus on. That is what gets on blogs. It just shows that positivity is not what people buy into. It is the negativity that sells.
Self-Care Within Marriage
Ashley: I am a huge advocate for mental health and wellness. Self-care is a part of my everyday routine. I like to meditate with my daughter, and I like to take hot baths. Self-care can look different in different marriages. For Quick and I, we enjoy spending time together, but we also enjoy our own 'me time.' Having your own identity within your marriage is so important. For example, it can get hard being able to spend time with your girlfriends after you get married. Three months can turn into six months and then you're wondering where the time goes. So my other form of self-care is maintaining those relationships outside of my marriage. Everyone needs that.
Quick: I work so much. I literally party for a living and I am around people 24/7. There have been days when I have worked myself into exhaustion, so when I am not working, I do not want to do anything. I enjoy watching an old movie, smoking a cigar, and just relaxing. If I could watch a movie, smoke a cigar, and get a massage every day, life would be amazing! My form of self-care is honestly doing nothing.
"Self-care can look different in different marriages. For Quick and I, we enjoy spending time together, but we also enjoy our own 'me time.' Having your own identity within your marriage is so important."
Courtesy of DJ QuickSilva
Quick: One thing that Ashley mentioned in another interview really resonated with me. She said, "In marriage, you will always love each other. Will there be moments when you fall out of love? Yes. But what helps with keeping the marriage going is that we don't fall out of love at the same time." So those moments when we get on each other's nerves, it is always one of us that still cares to bring us back to love.
Ashley: A lot of people talk about communication, but for me, I think comprehension is more important than just communicating. If someone is telling you something and it is going in one ear and out the other, it doesn't mean anything. To understand where your partner is coming from is key.
Ashley: I think a goal for us is that in 20 more years, we still like each other. We try to do things together that we both will enjoy. Keeping the fun is a huge part in keeping the marriage alive. A big mistake that a lot of married couples do, is that they forget who they were before they got married. So it's important to do things that remind you why you got together in the first place—to be reminded, what made you fall in love.
Quick: I think it is important for people to see that just because you're married, doesn't mean you can't do the fun things you were doing before you were married. Yes, some things may slow down and change. But the Silvas like to turn up!!
"I think a goal for us is that in 20 more years, we still like each other. We try to do things together that we both will enjoy. Keeping the fun is a huge part in keeping the marriage alive."
Ashley: Keeping that balance of being a couple outside of being parents is essential. I remember Guiliana Rancic (works for E! News) said that her marriage comes first and her children come second. A lot of people were upset that she said that. But when I read more about what she was saying, I understood why. If I spend all my time with my children and my marriage is failing, I don't have a marriage to go back to.
Quick: Everything does not work for everybody. What works for us, may not work for the next couple. I think the main important thing in a marriage is to agree on what works for you two. It's not easy to be married to someone like me in this industry, but once you figure out what works, go with that. Nobody can teach you what works in your marriage better than you.
Featured image courtesy of DJ QuickSilva
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
As we navigate this world, we all are given different opinions and perspectives on how we should be. We've been told to be kind, not mean, be brave, not afraid, and be selfless, not selfish. I don't know about y'all, but as I've gotten older, the definition of these things have definitely shifted for me. Now that I am in my 30s, my definition for being brave may be different from someone else's. Even with the word 'selfish' and the negative association to it, I am sure it leaves a bad taste in your mouth just by saying it. But if I am being honest, being selfish does not have to always be a bad thing.
There are nuances about selfishness that are actually very healthy, especially for those who consider themselves people-pleasers or huge givers. Now I am not saying that giving to others is something we need to stop doing. We all need support and that sense of community. All I am proposing is pivoting our mindsets a little when we think about the word 'selfish' because in reality, focusing on our well-being should be a priority. Taking care of ourselves and putting ourselves first should not be frowned upon.
Recently, I had an amazing conversation with actress Zuri Adele, a woman who made the decision to be selfish through self-choosing, and she hasn't looked back since. Zuri grew up between Palo Alto, California, and Brooklyn, New York. She studied acting at Spelman College, the British American Drama Academy, and UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. Outside of acting, Zuri is very passionate about wellness. In addition to teaching acting at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and UCLA's TFT, she's led yoga classes, voice workshops, and curated wellness experiences within her communities.
Zuri is well known for her role as Malika Williams on Freeform's series Good Trouble, a spin-off from The Fosters where viewers follow two sisters, Callie and Mariana, as they move to The Coterie in downtown Los Angeles. They meet their new neighbors and journey through their new lives in LA. One of those neighbors is Malika (played by Zuri), a Black Lives Matter activist, and her story centers around showing up for social justice while exploring intersectionality in romance and human identity.
Courtesy of Rikers Brothers
What I love about Zuri playing the role is that showing up for yourself is what this character is all about. The actress has learned through trial and error that as Black women, we do ourselves a disservice by not choosing ourselves first, before we give to others. She shared, "Once I started to learn that self-choosing ripples in such a major way to everyone including myself, it's bigger than me at that point. It is actually more selfish of me to try to be perceived as a good person by doing something that I honestly don't want to do."
In this installment of Finding Balance, xoNecole talks to Zuri about living a liberated life, unlearning certain definitions of selfishness, and the importance of moving your body.
xoNecole: What have you learned from your 'Good Trouble' character, Malika, that has helped you figure out your personal why?
Zuri Adele: I love that question. Thank you for that. Something that I continue to learn through Malika is that everything we do is connected to a divine purpose. I strongly believe in this system from merging with Malika. For instance, my purpose as an actor is that I am a griot. I am a storyteller. I am here to pass on as many stories as I can through my body and voice. Malika is my soulmate in a sense because she is so passionate about collective and Black liberation. She is a griot in her own right and she reminds me that our best life is a liberated one. As one of my best friends recently reminded me, living your most liberated life is your life's purpose.
"Living your most liberated life is your life's purpose."
On the show, we see how Malika is showing up for herself and others through activism. For you, how are you showing up for yourself unapologetically on a daily basis?
I have really been reflecting on this recently. How I like to show up for myself is to make sure that my cup is overflowing. In order to do anything, I try to stay as consistent as I can with my morning and night routines. As creatives, our schedules can get a little hectic, but as long as I carve out some time for me to pour into myself, that is something I prioritize. Trusting my intuition and when my body tells me I need to give it attention has been the best way in taking care of myself.
At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?
It has really been through trial and error. It has really been through hitting my limits and facing the consequences of doing that. Whether it's people-pleasing, appearing selfless, and just avoiding other people's reactions of how I come off if I act otherwise. Doing that really had cost me money, my health, my peace, and my confidence. Experiencing that made me take a step back and say, 'Wait a minute, I can not survive like this.'
When I did start speaking up more for myself, the outcome actually went above and beyond what I expected. Once I started to learn that self-choosing ripples in such a major way to everyone including myself, it's bigger than me at that point. It is actually more selfish of me to try to be perceived as a good person by doing something that I honestly don't want to do.
"Once I started to learn that self-choosing ripples in such a major way to everyone including myself, it's bigger than me at that point. It is actually more selfish of me to try to be perceived as a good person by doing something that I honestly don't want to do."
Courtesy of Rikers Brothers
What have you discovered through self-choosing that you would like other women to know?
For me, it is really about unlearning the selfish narrative. For so long, I had an adult in my life that would call me selfish when I would self-choose. I really want to encourage people to not listen to those negative voices that are inside of our heads. By choosing myself, I am choosing everyone I am connected to. Self-choosing is also a way we accept our abundance. The more we responsibly choose our abundance, we make room to be able to be of service to others. There are so many moments when we as Black women are taught that we need to put our masks on last, but it's really the exact opposite.
"By choosing myself, I am choosing everyone I am connected to. Self-choosing is also a way we accept our abundance. The more we responsibly choose our abundance, we make room to be able to be of service to others."
What are your mornings like?
When I wake up in the morning, I like to do a morning meditation for about five minutes. Then, I like to read Iyanla Vanzant's devotional book Acts of Faith. I make sure that I do not respond to any calls or messages until after I have read my devotion. I also try to move my body as much as I can. I practice martial arts, yoga, and I have a spin class that I like to go to. I don't believe I have to go through the same loop of routines. I just have to do something where I can move my body. [There are] those t-shirts that say, "I'm sorry for what I said before I ate," [but] my shirt would say, "I'm sorry for what I said before I moved my body."
How do you wind down at night?
If I didn't get to work out, then I would work out at night. After that, I would shower to cleanse the day off. I like to light some candles and get my skincare routine going.
What are your top three favorite self-care practices?
Gardening and taking care of my plants is one of my favorites. Another practice I love to do is acupuncture. It has been really helpful for me. Last but not least is skincare. I don't know what it is, but I didn't know I was going to get so hooked on it [laughs]. Skincare makes me feel like I am just releasing all the toxins out of me.
Courtesy of Rikers Brothers
How do you find balance with:
It has been really helpful to know that I am not alone, especially during the pandemic. One thing I will say that my friends and I do is speak up more about what we need. We all work in different fields, so we have different needs. We show up for each other when we can and respect each other's boundaries as well. Making sure that I stay connected to my friends, who are Black women, not only helps me with filming Good Trouble, but also grounds me in my sisterhood and community.
"Making sure that I stay connected to my friends, who are Black women, not only helps me with filming Good Trouble, but also grounds me in my sisterhood and community."
I am really trusting my intuition with what works for me as far as dating. Overall, I have been noticing the red flags way sooner than I did before and simply owning what I need. I actually just hired a matchmaker and it has been really fun! I learned about her on the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. She said this quote in her interview that really stuck with me. So I posted the quote on Instagram and tagged her. She later reached out to me and told me she would love to match me. Her company is called The Broom List and it has been really dope so far!
When you're going through a bout of uncertainty or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
Therapy is No. 1. I started therapy a little over two years ago. I can't even tell you what I was out here doing before that. Just having that private sacred place to talk through anything has been life-changing. I am able to recognize certain patterns from my past and navigate through that better. I also want to mention the importance of being still. Stillness and not rushing myself has been really helpful for me. I am one of those people who needs time to process to respond how I need to in certain situations. The answer is always within yourself. You just need time to carve out all the noise.
"I am one of those people who needs time to process to respond how I need to in certain situations. The answer is always within yourself. You just need time to carve out all the noise."
And honestly, what does success mean to you? What does happiness mean to you?
Well, in some ways, right now success and happiness go hand in hand, definitely more than they did before. Success and happiness both feel like liberation, and to me, that feels like peace. Happiness doesn't necessarily mean joy. Happiness means peace and knowing that everything is in divine order. Success is when you are living your most authentic liberated life as best as you can with the resources that you have.
I envision myself in a meditative position and, [although] there is a tornado or a bunch of moving pieces around me, I am seated on the ground and still. That is what success and happiness looks like to me. To know that no matter what is going on around me, internally, I am at peace.
For more of Zuri Adele, follow her on Instagram here.
Featured image courtesy of Rikers Brothers
When we think of R&B, we think of soul. Soul, by definition, is emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance. Black people are soul. Everything about us. Our hair. Our energy. Our skin. And, without a doubt, the creativity that courses through every inch of who we are. So, when it comes to our music, spiritual experiences are often what we call them. Makes sense, for there are no other people who remain unbroken the way we do. And every so often, an artist comes along who seems to be the physical manifestation of all that we are.
One such artist is R&B singer Lucky Daye.
Daye embodies the very essence of who we are. With his warm silky vocals, intricate lyricism and ability to wring beauty from a love drought, Lucky Daye has become one of the most sought after and revered vocalists in the industry. With R&B being such a cherished part of our culture's influence on the musical landscape, new artists, at times, have a hard time breaking away from comparisons to legends of the past.
However for Daye, this is a welcomed challenge.
"I find that my music is a reflection of the classic R&B that I grew upwith and have come to love," he said. "Paying homage to Black artists who have come before me comes naturally. Those artists are an an example to me but it's something that flows naturally when I create music."
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET
"Paying homage to Black artists who have come before me comes naturally. Those artists are an an example to me but it's something that flows naturally when I create music."
After years spent penning hits for other artists, in 2018 Daye stepped from behind the boards and burst onto the scene with his hit "Roll Some Mo". Equal parts sultry and masterful, Daye's debut project Painted left us wanting more.
And he delivered.
Offering his talents to the motion picture soundtrack for The Photograph, his hit "Fade Away" became a must-have on made-for-love playlists all over as our country went into lockdown last year. 2021 kicked off with new music from Lucky as well with the release of his EP, Table for Two, a seven-song project that saw him collaborating with artists like Ari Lennox and Queen Naija. Duets, which for so long have been foundational to R&B music, have all but died out except for the rare occurrences that two artists just decide they want to work together.
So, we had to know who was on Lucky's list to collaborate with next. "Beyonce," he confessed, "...Jazmine Sullivan and Grace Jones." Swoon.
Perhaps what we love more about Lucky Daye than his immense talent, is his obvious love for our culture. The Grammy-award winning singer teamed up with Crown Royal to shine a light on Black artists in all disciplines and proclaim, boldly, that our soul is what moves the world forward for Juneteenth this year.
Daye performed alongside legends Earth, Wind and Fire and India.Arie in a virtual festival that paid homage to our roots and our future. "I'd encourage other artists like myself to continue to use their talents for good and give back to the culture that is keeping the world alive," he said about his decision to join the initiative and to work alongside the luxury cognac brand on similar efforts.
It's clear that whether Lucky is keeping R&B music alive or using his influence to promote the art of Black artists across mediums, he is always showing up as his truest self.
In his music and where he dedicates his time (did I mention he's a part-time chess master?!), there is a thorough line: do it from the soul or do not do it at all.
For more of Lucky, follow him on Instagram @iamluckydaye.
Featured image by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET