A phenom, well on her way to surpassing her own accolades. An artistic powerhouse wearing many hats.
I personally met the magic of Condola after watching her portrayal of Shelbyin Lifetime's adaptation of my all-time favorite movie, Steel Magnolias. I remember being so excited, that when the cast was announced, I researched everyone—primarily her, and Adepero Oduye, being that they were the two cast members considered "newcomers" to the culture.
Little did I know, Condola wasn't a newcomer at all—sis isn't new to any of this.
The Broadway culture knows her from her performances in Stick Fly, A Doll's House, and Romeo & Juliet, and TV audiences knows her as Kate Stacker on Showtime's Billions. But now, Rashad is redefining her craft and reintroducing herself as Dola, her visual storytelling, artistic alter-ego firing her music into the universe, and debuting her very personal EP, appropriately titled, Space Daughter.
Because we live in a world where seeing a full body of work isn't something we are privy to (unless Beyonce drops it), oftentimes, between the music, the creativity, and full conceptualized storytelling, at some point, these very bodies of work remove themselves from a category of EP, and crosses over into sufficient art.
And Dola is no different. She has, in fact, brilliantly figured out her lane by welcoming us to join her process of coming into herself. "I'm so grateful that I've had the impeccable fortune of having been a part of so many incredible productions and projects," she tells us. "But I'd definitely have to say finally revealing the musician that I've always been, through the journey of the Space Daughter EP, is at the top."
And ladies, this is a huge statement being as she has previously been nominated for four Tony Awards, and she's acted alongside the likes of giants such as Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, and oh yeah, her mother, Phylicia Rashad. "Music was and has always been my first artistic expression. It has always been the leading force behind me. It's just most people didn't know until I released Space Daughter earlier this year, which was exciting for me because I love to surprise people! I was in an indie rock band called Condola & the Stoop Kids for a few years; some of the best years of my life!" She continued, "But right around the time when I was in the Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet, we were recording our album simultaneously. I made the decision after we released that album that I needed to focus on one part of my path for a few years, so I focused on acting for about five years, and then when the timing felt right I went back into the studio in 2018 to start recording Space Daughter, my playful ode to the Divine Feminine."
Space Daughter features five vivid tracks: "Blue", "Give Up the Gold", "Running in Place", "What I Said", and "Too Fire".
Intrigued, I share with her that my favorite song on the EP is "Running in Place" due to its message and upbeat, fierce nature. She agrees and tells me that it's one of her favorite as well. We go on and continue to chat about the project. "After I created the five tracks with my team, I knew immediately that it was meant to be a visual EP. First and foremost, I'm a storyteller, so when I heard the songs together, I automatically saw how the visuals were meant to unfold.
"2019 was one of the biggest years of manifestation of my life. I gathered my soul tribe together and produced the visuals alongside a production company called The Colors You Like. We shot five videos in five days. It was one of the most challenging experiences to date, but I learned so much during that time. One of those things being how much I love producing and directing. I can't wait to produce more."
Enamored by her calm exuberance and regality in her responses, I ask her “what's next?"
She smiles, "Well if I told you, then how would I be able to surprise you?"
Spoken like a true Sagittarius.
Below are a few of my favorite stills from Space Daughter EP:
Space Daughter EP is available on all streaming platforms. Follow Dola on Instagram @dolabunny to keep up with her upcoming projects.
Feature and still images courtesy of Dola/WGM/YouTube
- Dola Releases Debut Visual EP 'Space Daughter' - Rated R&B ›
- Condola Rashad (@dolabunny) • Instagram photos and videos ›
- Check Out Condola 'Dola' Rashad in Her New Music Video for 'Blue ... ›
- Condola 'Dola' Rashad Premieres Video for New Track 'Too Fire ... ›
- Condola Rashad Discusses Her Debut Visual EP, Space Daughter ... ›
- Tony Nominee Condola Rashad Releases Music Video from Debut ... ›
- Condola 'Dola' Rashad Talks Visual EP 'SPACE DAUGHTER ... ›
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.
A hill that I am forever going to die on is nothing, and no one (including your spouse or your kids) should come before your purpose — ever. The reason why I say that is because your purpose is literally why you exist. And so, aside from the Creator who assigned you to one, there is nothing and no one greater.
And because of that, you should be laser-focused on surrounding yourself with people, places, things and ideas that will help you to manifest “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” (one definition of purpose) as it relates to you specifically and then you should be intentional, both daily and consistently, about manifesting “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal” (another definition of purpose) when it comes to elevating in that very space.
In order for all of this to happen, you definitely, without question, need to surround yourself with purposeful relationships: relationships that exist, largely in part, to help you reach certain intended aims and desired results. And in order for that to happen, you’ve got to be highly selective about who those people are — and it needs to go well beneath the surface of merely having certain things in common or enjoying someone’s company.
Keeping all of this in mind, let’s explore what it means to have purposeful relationships and why you are doing yourself a serious detriment if you don’t prioritize having them in your life. Ready?
What Is Your Purpose?Giphy
I once read an article that said that only 25 percent of people actually know what their purpose is (a lot of other articles say that it’s actually lower than that!). To me, that’s alarming because, again, since purpose is literally why each of us are here, it’s important to prioritize discovering what your own purpose is all about. It’s basically what Oprah Winfrey once said: “Your real job is to figure out what it is that you are called to do” because, once you know that, it helps you to know what direction your life should actually take — including when it comes to your relationships.
And so, before getting into anything else — what is your purpose? If you’re unsure, a “purpose hack” that I recommend is to think about what you were put on this planet to do. If you can explain it in three words or phrases, you’re probably right on the money.
For instance, my purpose is “marriage, sex, and the Sabbath” — all are biblical covenant principles (that folks, en masse, are totally flippant about), and all are things that I study, research, and talk about on a daily basis and all are things that I have been told, consistently, that I seem to have supernatural insights on. You know, in Hebrew and African culture, names speak to purpose, and I discovered in my 30s, from an Israeli, that my name is Hebrew and it means “Mine; Belonging to Me,” which basically means that my name even means “covenant” (Ezekiel 16:1-14).
And you know what? Even if I didn’t get paid to write, public speak, and life coach on those three things, I would still do it because, for me, those topics come so naturally to me that they are like breathing; even when I’m tired, it still feels like a huge life source.
Okay, so what do you feel this way about? If you’re still unsure, there is a leadership website that features over 132 questions that you can ask yourself here. Also, if you go to your favorite search engine and put “find my purpose quiz” in the search field, there are all sorts of (free) tests that you can take. You might also want to see a life coach for some clarity because we are trained to ask certain questions that can lead you to some pretty profound “ah-ha moments.”
Whatever path you decide to take, it is super important, critical even, that you know what your purpose is. So many people waste valuable time, effort, and energy, not just on the wrong career path but with the wrong partners and in the wrong friendships because they have absolutely no clue.
NOTHING Should EVER Come Before Purpose FulfillmentGiphy
Although I touched on this in the intro, before getting into how you can know if you’re in truly purpose-filled relationships, since this revelation may immediately cause you to do some reassessing and reprioritizing as far as certain folks are concerned, I need to speak to the part of you who may feel guilty about shifting and realigning, perhaps even after reading all of this. Yeah, please hear and hear me good when I say that you are doing yourself the ultimate disservice if you are out here living your life without fulfilling your purpose in the process.
So, what are some signs that you are, indeed, in a state of purpose fulfillment:
- Your gifts and talents are being utilized.
- You feel a sense of holistic wholeness and calm.
- Even on the hard days, you enjoy many moments within it.
- Others are directly benefitting from what you do.
- No one is doing, what you are doing, quite like you are doing it.
- You are constantly feeling challenged, inspired, and motivated.
- You can connect what you do to a profound sense of spiritual elevation.
- You are becoming a better, not worse, person.
- Money is merely a bonus.
- You feel fulfilled.
Fulfill: to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise; to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands; to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.); to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time; to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively)
Synonyms: accomplished, satisfied, pleased, crowned, gratified, realized, perfected
- Feeling fulfilled has so many layers to it.
- Being fulfilled has a spiritual element to it (prophecy, promise).
- Being fulfilled means that you are being led to execute certain things.
- Being fulfilled means you are here to complete something.
- Being fulfilled means that your full potential is to be developed.
- Being fulfilled brings a sense of accomplishment, gratification, and supreme realization.
And when you break all of this down and then really let it set in — how in the world could — or should — you let anyone or anything come before all of this? You shouldn’t. Yet, because this isn’t taught, nearly enough, folks end up (for example) miserable in marriages because they didn’t choose someone who complements their purpose. People end up on roller coaster rides in their friendships because they are not connected to those who complement their purpose. People never really learn who to hold on to and who to release because they don’t get how important it is to stick with who complements their purpose and to let go of who…doesn’t.
And just what do I mean by that? I’m so glad that you asked.
Who in Your Life Complements Your Purpose?Giphy
An article that I wrote for the platform a few years back that people will sometimes still write me about to this day is “If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life.” A part of what inspired it is a verse in Scripture. The Classic Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 says, “Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.” Yeah, it’s kind of a message for another time how, nowhere in this, does it say that God would give Adam someone to “fall in love with;” it says that he would bring him HELP in the form of his COMPLEMENT. Nothing’s wrong with love, yet some of y’all are hinging too much on Disney and rom-coms and not enough on who complements you. Like I said…another time.
Okay, yet even beyond your life partner, what does it mean for someone to complement you? If someone is your complement, they are able to bring forth some sort of completion in your life. Not in the Jerry Maguire (film) “You complete me” kind of way (that’s basically an inside job) — more like in the “You help me to bring certain things together in order to COMPLETE things” instead of “You are so much work to deal with that you are taking time, effort, energy, and resources away from me being able to COMPLETE things.” Make sense?
I’ll give you a personal example (not with graphic details, but enough). There was someone, back in the day, who used to really try to be my friend. Another matter for another time? I’m not big on that. Life and discernment have taught me that if you’re “trying hard,” you usually have an agenda. Friendships should happen…organically. Anyway, one day, out of the blue, she decided that we fell out (LOL). I know this because she told someone we mutually share without ever talking to me. Fast forward to now, and we both have platforms; ones that couldn’t be more different.
I mean, what she talks about is so diametrically opposed to what I do, and because she is so opinionated to the point that no one else can really get a word in unless it’s to praise or applaud her — I already know that we would’ve had a lot of conflict. So much time would’ve been spent via her trying to get me to see things her way that I wouldn’t be focused on what I am called to do…over here. She’s simply not my complement; not as far as my close inner circle is concerned. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that it’s a good idea to see folks for who and what they are so that you know where to place them in your life.
So yeah, if you’ve got people in your life who contradict your purpose, challenge you about your purpose, try and gaslight you out of your purpose — they do not complement it.
Now let’s see and raise this point.
Who in Your Life Helps to Elevate Your Purpose?Giphy
A couple of weeks ago, my godchildren’s mom treated me to a trip where she spoke at a moth. What is that? Long story short, people from all over the country get to share a 10-minute story, based on various themes, before audiences. If they go over 10 minutes, they’re kind of “Apollo-ed off” (the real ones know what I mean by that). Anyway, the main reason why she wanted me to come was because she wanted to publicly thank me for planting a seed into the platform that she has now, which is advocacy for Black and brown people in country music. My role? Telling her to start a podcast for it in the first place (because she was wearing me out talking about country music history all of the time!). I stayed on her for a couple of years, and she finally followed through. Since then, it has taken off in ways that she never imagined, and now there is a major resurgence in her career. Love to see it!
You know, confession time: It took me a long time to fully rest in the fact that another huge part of my personal purpose is to be a “doula” for people. Yes, I am one in the traditional sense. However, the Most High has also used me, so many times over, to help people with “creative pregnancies” (Romans 8:22-29 — Message) — to get them to see them, to help protect them, and then to provide support in the execution of them. And on this side of really getting that, it’s an honor.
Anyway, it wouldn’t make sense to write on this topic and not also mention that when you are in purposeful relationships, you should also be seeing some sort of elevation as a direct result of being connected to those individuals. It doesn’t always, automatically or necessarily have to be monetary yet— yes, you need to be growing, thriving, flourishing because they are in your life. So should your purpose.
It’s kind of like something that I recently heard the comedian Earthquake say on Drink Champs. He was talking about splitting assets in relationships and he basically said that if you help him to acquire more since being with someone and there’s a break-up, sharing makes sense. At the same time, if you leave with the same amount that you came in with, why is anyone else owed anything? My favorite line in his narrative: “We didn’t prosper.” Boy, if that ain’t a way to end stuff: WE DIDN’T PROSPER. LOL.
To prosper is to be successful. To prosper is to flourish. To prosper is to thrive. And I promise you that if you are linked up with people who are a complement to your purpose — whether it be personal or professional, romantic or platonic — you are going to see some prospering going on. Things are gonna multiply. You’re gonna produce some newness. Progress, yielding, and advancing are gonna be a given.
Hmph. Don’t get me started on how some of y’all need to “relationally demote” some of your own familial relationships because they are some of the greatest enemies of you fulfilling your purpose. STRAIGHT UP.
Closing out this point by saying — no YELLING — that when you are in purposeful relationships, one way to know is, one way or another, your purpose is gonna elevate. Now, think about your relational dynamics as they currently stand. Is that what's happening? Are you sure?
Why You Should Prioritize “Purpose People” Above All OthersGiphy
When it comes to relationship-related stuff, something else that time and maturity will (hopefully) teach you is there is a ton of space between “friend” and “enemy.” What I mean by that is, even if you realize that someone doesn’t need to be in your inner intimate circle or even that they shouldn’t be deserving of the official title “friend” (check out “Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'”), that doesn’t mean they can’t be a cool acquaintance, a seasonal connection or simply someone who you enjoy getting drinks with from time to time. Y’all, some people can be pleasant additions without being highly prioritized. Always remember that.
Who should you prioritize, though? Your purposeful relationships. Now that you know more about what those people look and act like, it should be a given that your spouse would qualify because surely you wouldn’t choose a partner who doesn’t complement your purpose…CORRECT? And, of course, your kids would fall into this as well because two people in purpose create children with purpose…RIGHT? And then there’s the rest of the folks in your world who make you manifest your purpose clearer and easier.
Me personally? I know exactly who those individuals are for me. They’re the ones who can call me at 4 a.m. They’re the ones who can get money even when it’s a bit inconvenient for me to give it (check out “Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'”). They’re the ones who I am happy to lend my gifts and talents to. Why? Because they would do the same for me. How can I be so sure? It’s because we have both agreed that we are in each other’s lives, in part, to make sure that our individual purposes are indeed fulfilled — and whatever it takes to make that happen…so be it. We’re in this thing until manifestation transpires. And those are the kind of people who deserve to come above all else. Truly and fully. And they do — without hesitation or reservation. To this day, I’ve never regretted it.
The late and oh-so-great Dr. Myles Munroe’s purpose was largely about helping others figure out their own purpose. That’s why he used to say things like, “Purpose is when you know and understand what you were born to accomplish,” “We were placed on earth to fulfill a purpose, which gives meaning to our lives; you were sent to the world to make an impact and a difference,” and “Your purpose can be fulfilled only during the time you are given on earth to accomplish it.”
And you know what? It would be a shame to have wasted so much of your time trying to make relationships work and last that never really were supposed to, all because they have nothing to do with you fulfilling your purpose, and you never realized that therein was the supreme disconnect.
It can’t be said enough: purpose is why you’re here. So, make sure that you’ve got relationships that help you to live your best life — IN PURPOSE…until you complete it.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images