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, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
Everybody has a best friend in their heads. For some it's Natasha Rothwell's Insecure character Kelli; for some, it's Megan Thee Stallion twerking up and down the kitchen while cheffin' it up. For me, it is BuzzFeed's very own Freddie Ransome. And why not? She's gorgeous, down-to-earth, hilarious, and gets paid to be herself. Talk about living your best life, right?
The popular creator, video producer, and personality is no stranger to life on-camera and has an approachable, transparent nature to her when cameras aren't rolling. Freddie is a member of BuzzFeed's vertical LadyLike YouTube channel, a cast of five women who challenge what it means to be "ladylike" through style and beauty tries, career exploration, and deep dives into pop culture.
Courtesy of Freddie Ransome
Freddie has a jam-packed schedule between getting Saweetie-inspired makeovers, going bald for a day, trying on prom dresses from Amazon, and taking flawless selfies on her Instagram page. But nothing compares to when she has some alone time for herself.
For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to discuss with Howard University grad about sparking up as a means to wind down, making time to FaceTime friends during her busy schedule and playing with her cat as a form of self-care.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?
Freddie Ransome: I don't think I understood the importance of this until maybe 2016? I was 26, had been living in LA for about a year and had landed a Junior Video Producer role at Buzzfeed. I had felt like everything I worked hard for since I graduated in 2012 was finally taking shape. I had a salary, finally! This was the year I started toying with the idea of taking vacations, staycations, and remembering that I was hired for a reason and that my opportunity wouldn't get snatched away from me for taking time for myself.
What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of.
Every day of the week, I'm knee-deep in emails. Deciding if I want to accept certain opportunities, looking through PR emails, and constantly brainstorming and figuring out ways that I can contribute to my community, specifically Black women and girls (all of this is with the help of my management team). Sometimes, I'm shooting Instagram stories and in-feed Instagram photos for brands; when I'm not doing that, I'm prepping for my acting coaching sessions by memorizing scenes and if I have a self-tape audition, prepping for that. When I'm not doing all of those things, I'm online shopping or looking at the home buying app, Redfin, at homes I want to buy, but can't afford (laughs).
"This was the year I started toying with the idea of taking vacations, staycations, and remembering that I was hired for a reason and that my opportunity wouldn't get snatched away from me for taking time for myself."
What are your mornings like?
So, I'm NOT a morning person, but I've actually gotten better at taking my mornings by the horns since quarantine began in March. I guess I'm holding myself more accountable. I wake up, check my phone, brush my teeth and wash my face (I'm a night showerer), get dressed in my athleisure of the day (today it's cheetah print biker shorts, a t-shirt with Snoop Dogg's face on it, and tie-dye socks), make an iced chai latte with ingredients from Trader Joe's, fix breakfast, which is a rotation between bacon and eggs, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, rolled oats, boiled eggs, or last night's leftovers. Then, I crack open my computers to check those emails!
How do you wind down at night?
This is my favorite part of the day! I light all of my incense and candles, shower, smoke some weed, and watch something light and funny on Netflix. Lately, I've been re-watching The Simple Life and other random old reality TV shows. I'm usually in bed by 11.
When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?
When I have a busy week, the most hectic part of it is sending over content to brands for them to review and having to make tweaks or re-shoot some things under a tight deadline. I usually get pretty overwhelmed by deadlines, so I find myself having to take some deep breaths to stay calm and focused.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
I know it sounds corny, but I play with my cat, Roberta Sinclaire. I got her a little over 2 years ago and I have to say, she has saved me this quarantine! We just hang out and watch TV. Some of our favorite shows include Insecure, Ozark, Never Have I Ever, This is Us, Dave, the list goes on. Also, I've learned how to give myself a gel manicure with tips and knotless goddess braids, while in quarantine. I've decided to hold off on eyebrow maintenance until salons open again (laughs).
"Self-care can look so many different ways. If you feel you're too busy for it, I would encourage you to carve out the time you would normally carve out for a doctor's appointment you can't miss (we all have those) for a morning or afternoon to yourself. Sometimes, chores and taking care of certain things I've been putting off is a form of self-care."
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
Self-care can look so many different ways. If you feel you're too busy for it, I would encourage you to carve out the time you would normally carve out for a doctor's appointment you can't miss (we all have those) for a morning or afternoon to yourself. Sometimes, chores and taking care of certain things I've been putting off is a form of self-care. Doing laundry, folding those clothes that have been in the dryer for a week, or dropping off those clothes to a women's shelter that have been sitting in the car for weeks can clear my mind! Those things that have been hovering over my shoulder for weeks are now taken care of, and I feel free!
How do you find balance with:
I bought a bike! So, I try to go on bike rides once or twice a week. The other weekend, I got some friends together who all have bikes and we rode from Leimert Park to Venice Beach. We got empanadas and to-go margaritas. Bike riding has given me the exercise and outlet I've been yearning for since the lockdown began.
HA! I've been single for about...three years. [I've] been dating here and there but nothing serious. Not because I don't want things to be serious, but because everything felt kind of forced. And why force situationships to work when I need to be forcing myself to sit down, focus, and get my tasks done? I'm on the apps and swipe during my downtime, but I can't say I actively make time to go out and meet guys. When I had committed to making that a part of my routine [and] going out once a week to lounges and bars in different parts of LA to meet different types of guys––that's when quarantine was mandated (laughs). So, [I'm] just focusing on what I can control, which is my work!
I'm a part of many-a-group chats. So, that's how I stay tapped in on the daily. But I'm working on getting better at FaceTime calls and more intimate catch-up sessions. FaceTiming one or two friends a week is always the goal.
What about health? Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
I've been cooking a lot more in the last few months. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, I was "restaurant mami" and always ate out or did take out, mainly out of laziness. I've learned how to make dishes with my Instapot, made lasagna for the first time, fried chicken for the first time...I've been throwing down. Now, you mentioned "health" (laughs). Yeah I could do better with cooking healthier foods.
Do you ever detox?
I've never detoxed. Unless not drinking for a couple weeks counts?
"I think about what I want and I get extremely specific. What company or network do I want to work with? Who would I want to be my 'boss'? And then I try to focus on the things I can control. What can I be doing on my end to be as prepared as possible when this opportunity does arise? Because it will. it's just a matter of when."
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I think about what I want and I get extremely specific. What company or network do I want to work with? Who would I want to be my "boss"? Which executives do I want to know my name? Or, what character do I want to play, and on what show? And then I try to focus on the things I can control. What can I be doing on my end to be as prepared as possible when this opportunity does arise? Because it will. it's just a matter of when.
What do you do when you have a creative block on a project or feel like you have to clear your head before going into a project?
I don't really think I have many creative blocks when it comes to creating. My biggest hurdle is getting started. Once I get started editing a video or working on a script, I'm on a roll. It just takes a lot of discipline for me to actually sit down and start working....without getting distracted by online shopping or Redfin browsing (laughs) The way I force myself to sit down and get started is by setting the vibes. Turning off the TV, burning candles in my office and playing the "Late Night Vibes" playlist on Spotify. Ironically, this playlist works wonders for productivity during the day.
Honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Loaded Q! Wow, success to me looks like getting my foot in the door and bringing in and making room for other Black and brown folks. I want to start the trickle-in effect of people with varying perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds getting a chance to create based on their authentic experiences. Happiness looks like...me being able to create and make people laugh for the rest of my life. I want to make enough money to move my mom from Virginia to Los Angeles without her having to worry. It would also be cool to have a life partner through all of this.
For more Freddie, follow her on Instagram @Freddie!
Featured image courtesy of Freddie Ransome.
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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Weed is arguably one of the most socially accepted drugs on the market. Generally acknowledged as a conventional part of social and recreational settings, you can’t go too far without encountering the causal question, “So… do you smoke?”
Naturally, who doesn’t want to take the edge off every now and then? According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that produces its euphoric and mind-altering effects, embodies a chemical structure “similar to the brain chemical anandamide.” This allows our body to recognize the similarity and alter our normal brain communication, leading to the familiar hazy high feeling one gets after taking a hit.
Because of marijuana’s accessibility and social acceptance, it’s uniquely set apart from other recreational substances. Unlike the stigma attached to harder drugs or excessive alcohol consumption, waking and baking and smoking for leisure, stress reduction, or to pass the time, is often normalized. While many users report positive experiences with weed and find relief from anxiety and depression symptoms, it’s important to consider the potential effects that long-term use can have on one’s mental health and whether it’s time to quit.
In order to do so, we must address one important factor: cannabis is complex.
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For years, researchers have been determined to settle the quandary of whether individuals develop anxiety and depression due to cannabis use or if they use cannabis products as a coping mechanism for existing mental health issues. Still, one thing that is clear is how the effects vary from person to person, and the earlier one starts smoking, the more sustainable they are to long-term drawbacks.
“We do know that when teenagers or young adults are using cannabis more frequently, they have more trouble with anxiety and depression, as compared to people who are using cannabis or marijuana products when they are older adults,” Amie Goodin, Ph.D., MPP, assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Pharmaceutical Outcomes tells xoNecole.
Dr. Goodin explains that on average, there is an observed trend indicating a higher likelihood of negative effects, such as anxiety and depression, among individuals who engage in frequent and substantial cannabis use, though defining "a lot" is challenging.
“There is good evidence to suggest that people who are using pretty regularly, meaning most days and using when they are younger, they tend to have worse anxiety and depression,” she adds. These differences in usage patterns can result in varying experiences for individuals, making it complex to establish a clear threshold for what constitutes high cannabis use.
Still, there are common signs that marijuana users can look out for when determining whether their usage should be reduced or cut out. As Dr. Goofin notes, it’s all about accessing the impact weed is having on one’s lifestyle, health, and relationships.
“If you've noticed that you're spending less time with people that you used to enjoy spending time with, having trouble at your job or school, that's a bit of a concern,” she says. “Another thing to keep in mind is what's happening with your sleep? If it's showing up in your mind, and it's taken up a lot of space in your head, maybe that's a good reason to take a step back and evaluate if you need to talk to somebody?”
Are There Long-Term Effects to Smoking Weed?
While Dr. Goodin notes that smoking weed isn’t inherently life-threatening, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no downsides. Individuals with pre-existing mental health challenges unrelated to marijuana use, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis disorders, may experience more severe episodes when using cannabis regularly. Additionally, similar to smoking tobacco, “There might be risks for your heart and cardiovascular system,” which can affect one’s breathing and lung health in the long run.
How to Quit Smoking Weed
Treatment guidelines for cannabis-related issues are currently lacking, partly because existing treatment options are designed for individuals with more severe health issues. Still, if smoking weed is a habit that you’d like to ditch, here's a guide to initiate the process:
1. Create a Sleep Hygiene Plan.
“If you’re smoking weed or vaping, and stop, getting sleep can be tough,” Dr. Goodin explains. “Coming up with a plan for your sleep in advance can be helpful. Thinking about putting in more effort to help your body be more responsive to natural sleep cues is a good place to start.”
2. Schedule Your Annual Check-Up.
Dr. Goodin says, “Scheduling the appointment that we all put off is our regular annual check-up. The kind of advice and guidance from your healthcare provider can make a difference in knowing whether or not there needs to be other discussions made about your weed usage.”
3. Talk to a Friend.
“You don’t necessarily have to do the accountability buddy thing, but it might be a good idea just to let somebody within your social circle know that you’re trying to quit,” she says. “Especially if you tend to hang out with people and smoking is the activity. It's a good idea to talk to your friends and say, ‘Hey, could we try something different?’”
Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at https://www.samhsa.gov/ for additional mental health support resources.
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Feature image by Cavan Images/ José Antonio Luque Olmedo/ Getty Images