OWN’s Black Loveis in its sixth and final season, with new episodes featuring couples including Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris and Rodney Norris, DJ Envy and Gia Casey, Remy Ma and Papoose, Ashley Blaine Featherson Jenkins and Darroll Jenkins, JB Smoove and Shahidah Omar, Sonequa Martin-Green and Kenric Green and more.
The four-time NAACP-nominated docuseries was created by husband-and-wife filmmakers Codie and Tommy Oliver, and offers a nice respite from shows like Marriage Bootcamp or the Love and Marriage series, featuring conversations on relationship topics and a refreshing glimpse into the love lives of some of our favorite Black couples who are business leaders, hosts, entertainers, and influencers.
xoNecole caught up with the Olivers, as well as the Norrises about the show and their own journeys in love:
On what to expect for the final season:
Codie Oliver: The overarching theme is what I titled ‘The Finale,’ which is ‘relationship goals.’ And I called it that ironically because ‘relationship goals’ is one of those terms that suggests perfection. We throw that on people who we like. The reality is that, to me, in my experience of doing all these interviews and putting this together, [the] real relationship goal is authenticity and alignment in your partnership.
The title is meant to be ironic. They talk about it explicitly—several of the couples—and what that title means to them, how they feel about having that placed on them, and hopefully our series has shown, again, that the real goal is to be in alignment with your partner and nothing else really matters.
"The reality is that, to me, in my experience of doing all these interviews and putting this together, [the] real relationship goal is authenticity and alignment in your partnership."
By Elton Anderson
The Olivers on authentic connection in their relationship:
Codie: To me, that alignment, that checking in with self and with [a] partner about, like, what do we really want and what do each decision mean for us, whether that is the amount of travel that we are doing or not doing, [or] the amount of time spent working versus with our kids. So, it’s that checking with self and checking in with my partner about what’s making us happy in various phases of life. [It's] recognizing that with every season comes something new, whether it’s ‘newlywed’ or ‘new parent’ or ‘parent of three,’ and that constant conversation around, ‘Are we working to achieve the same goals, small or large?’ ‘Are we happy with how this relationship is progressing and how can we change that or make adjustments to it to make it more fulfilling for both of us?’ I think that’s important for all relationships.
Tommy: During [the pandemic] I really enjoyed being around [Codie] all the time, being around my kids all the time. I also knew it wouldn’t be the case forever, so I made sure to appreciate it for what it was at that point. And so, hopefully, it would be something different. Marriages, relationships, and partnerships—these things have seasons, and you’re in a different one. In a long marriage, you’re going to go through a lot of different seasons and a lot of different experiences and for me, it’s about figuring out how to adapt to where we are because I plan for us to be together for more than the next 20 years. I’m going to do my part to make sure that you want to be with me for more than the next 20 years.
"Marriages, relationships, and partnerships—these things have seasons, and you’re in a different one. In a long marriage, you’re going to go through a lot of different seasons and a lot of different experiences and for me, it’s about figuring out how to adapt to where we are because I plan for us to be together for more than the next 20 years."
Taylor Hill / Contributor/Getty
The Norrises on why they chose to join the cast:
Rodney Norris: We were fans of the show from the very beginning. Never thought we’d be on it, but when the opportunity presented itself, we felt like we had a story to tell as well. Our relationship has been very positive and that’s what Black Love represents. So, from that perspective, we felt like our story could be an addition to it.
Adrienne Banfield-Norris: I agree. We love Black Love and actually tried to manifest being on the show because we were shouting out Black Love on IG and on my podcast Positively Gam, and it came to be. We’re excited to be part of it.
On reconnecting and the thread that keeps them together:
Adrienne: The most important thing is friendship. Besides the love, do you like him? Do you have fun together? Do you enjoy being in each other’s company? To me, that is the most important thing because, I think, a lot of times friendship is what is going to seal the relationship—just really seal the bond.
Rodney: I agree. And at some point, you have to communicate. You can only have sex but for so much during the course of the day, and then after that, there’s 23 hours left. What are you going to do? You have to talk about something. Do you get along? I think the friendship is very important.
On navigating differences in a relationship:
Adrienne: One of the most important things about Rodney is that he does not believe in [raising] his voice. Communication is of the utmost importance. When I get angry, I immediately go to the ra-ra. I’m going to cuss you out, I’m going to do all of that. Yell. Scream. And I had to be willing to do the work on me, because that was not something he was going to tolerate in the relationship.
So you have to be able to communicate and be able to talk things out rationally and hear one another. That was one of the things. He said, ‘If you’re screaming and hollering, I can’t even hear you.’ So you have to be able to communicate in a way that both of you are able to hear one another’s perspective and hope that you will be able to come to a compromise.
The final season of Black Love is currently airing on OWN.
OFFICIAL TRAILER: The 6th & Final Season of Black Love | Black Love | OWN
Featured image by Unique Nicole/WireImage/Getty
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
Ever since I found the joy that is twisting up my hair with added hair in an effortless protective style that can be achieved in four hours or less (and in the comfort of my own home), I've been obsessed with simple hairstyles that are easy to do and not a pain to maintain.
Throwing some simple albeit a little messy twists into my hair whenever I want to tuck my natural hair away for a bit or have the ease or a break from daily manipulation is a welcomed change, especially when you are a lazy natural who never quite got the hang of doing her own hair beyond rocking an afro.
Another style that has been luring me into trying more hairstyles in my own at home? The much-talked-about bubble braids, or "poodle puffs," that have been trending around the web for a minute. The fun and playful style got its name from the small "bubbles" or "puffs" of the rubberbanded sections that make up each ponytail/braid. Bubble braids can be created with your own hair or with added length through extensions and can vary in length depending on whether you're opting for a short, medium, or long length.
Another variation of the style, sometimes called "bubble ponytails," can be achieved using a single ponytail that would then use elastics to rubberband large sections into an added pony. This one feels like more of a cross between that and classic twist styles.
I first came across them on my FYP when a creator named Ava shared a TikTok of herself in different stages of styling and installing bubble braids into her hair.
Bubble braids for da WINN
Bubble braids for da WINN
Tell me that didn't just inspire you to go cop some packs of Afro Kinky Twist hair and get to work! In a separate TikTok, the creator also showed her audience an in-depth tutorial on how to achieve the style at home. Check that out here.
For its versatility, personality, and simplicity, bubble braids should most definitely be on your radar in 2024 if the protective style isn't already. Need more motivation? Keep reading for some bubble braid styles we are currently loving.
16 Best Bubble Braids Styles
#stitch with @⭑ Ava ⭑ I was inspired to do poodle puffs... bubble braids.. however you call it🥰 #poodlepuffs #bubblebraids #protectivestyles
Underated protective style 💗 #naturalhair #naturalhairstyles #poodlepuffs
Underrated protective style 💗 #naturalhair #naturalhairstyles #poodlepuffs
I forgot how much I liked this song🔥 #poodlepuffs #blackgirltiktok #gingerhair #copperhair #4chair #backtoschoolhairstyles #fyp #puffbraids #bubblebraids #marleytwist
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Featured image via @ava_tocloo/Instagram