Exclusive: Our MCM Trevor Jackson Says His Biggest Lessons Come From Heartbreak


Most heartbreakers would be banished to the "Do Not Disturb" abyss, but Trevor Jackson has broken a heart (or two) for good reason.

It's no surprise the 21-year-old Grown-ish star has a few love lessons under his belt. Similar to his on-screen character, he's attractive, smart, and can crack a joke with the best of 'em—a catch by any millennial's standards. Still, like the rest of us, it's not easy navigating the uncertain waters of situationships and swiping right. But what the multi-hyphenate artist (singer/actor/dancer) does know about the emotion, he puts it on wax.

Jackson recently released Rough Drafts Pt. 1, a colorful 15-track LP, on which he sings, raps and displays his self-taught guitar skills about lust, loving the girl who tolerates his faults, and dealing with the ultra-exposed world of fame. Inspired in part by Prince, the project, housed under his Born Art/Empire imprint, explores Jackson's rock, country, trap, and Caribbean influences; a mesh of sounds that doesn't exactly follow a specific concept like other LPs, which Trevor prefers. "There's not one song that everyone likes," he says. "People are really gravitating toward the entire project. It goes to show that every song has its own kinda feel."

Despite being jet-lagged from traipsing the country for Justine Skye's ULTRAVIOLET tour, a press tour, and readying the release of Director X-helmed remake, Superfly, the triple threat is alert and candid about his heartbreak, how God's love steers his life path, and most importantly what's next for his career.

xoNecole: The finale and second to last episode of Grown-ish was a big deal. We got to see Zoey (Yara Shahidi) choose between Aaron and Luca, and these are two guys with very different approaches to a relationship with her. How similar are you to Aaron and how he pulled up on Zoey?

Trevor Jackson: I'd say the communication is similar. You can never really act as if you're with someone until you have that conversation. It has to be verbal so that there's no guessing. Communication is key. And the way that Aaron does it, I definitely agree with. If there's ever a moment in my life where I feel that way about someone, I have to tell them, especially if I want to be with them.

"Communication is key... If there's ever a moment in my life where I feel that way about someone, I have to tell them."

Right. Just be upfront about it. What were your thoughts about the season as a whole and the reception you all got?

I was overwhelmed in a great way. Obviously shooting it, I knew it would be amazing but just being able to see the response and the relatability that the show has, the concepts, the stories that we're telling are very poignant and on-the-nose for this day and age, and that's crazy to be a part of.

It definitely seems like a show in 10 or 15 years that people will look back and acknowledge that this was a great snapshot of life as a young 20-something or late teen in America.

Yeah, and I feel that's needed. People want to feel not alone, and this show definitely brings people together like, 'Oh, we all go through the same stuff.'

What are you personal thoughts on dating in this generation?

I don't know, man. I don't think there's any rule to doing it, 'cause people, especially two people and the way they interact, are so specific. One way you go about it with one person can be completely different [than with someone else]. One person can wait two months before they kiss a person — there's just no way to know. I just go off my feelings and instincts.

Do you think our generation is expecting too much from dating, as far as wanting that long-term forever love?

Anything's possible. Honestly. If you actually want to do it, it's possible.

On "Apocalypse", you reference God. Do you feel your religious beliefs inform the way you love in romantic relationships?

I guess you can say that. My relationship with God bleeds into anything I do, which is what I prefer. I never want to go into anything alone. God always knows more than me, so I tend to have Him surrounding whatever I'm doing.

Sidebar, what is your religious background? Did you grow up in the church?

I didn't grow up in church, but I started my relationship with God with I was about 14. I go to One Church now, and I love Jesus. I don't know the Bible backwards and forwards, but I've felt God before and that feeling is like no other.

OK, dope. So, on "Broken Hearted", you talk about being damaged emotionally in some ways. How have you healed from heartbreak?

I write music. I actually have a whole album called Unlovable that I already have done, and it's about that. About breaking up and not being with the person that you were with every day and you feel like a part of you is just gone.

How do you deal with breaking someone else's heart?

Well, that's the only way that my heart has been damaged is because I've broken someone else's heart. And that is not the best feeling. The reason that I did is because I felt like I had a lot of growing up to do. I didn't want to drag anybody I was with through that. It just was not the right time. I don't regret it though because it would be worse if I didn't do it.

Do you feel like heartbreak has changed you?

Oh yeah. All the way. It's just a maturity thing. Nothing's for certain. Everything that you think is for you may not be and sometimes you have to step outside of yourself and look at it from a different perspective. Once you're in love and in something, you're so in it that it seems like it's the end all be all and there's nothing else. So I kinda had to go through that, and be like, 'Wow you'll be OK.'

Sounds like it's the good kind of heartbreak. You're saving that person from some bullshit down the line.

Right. It's just hard to see that bit of it though when you're not with someone.

How would you define love?

At this point in my life, love is someone you can't live without. But you have to look at yourself and be like, "Why do I love this person?" I think you have to grow into love, there are different stages and the older you get, the more experiences you get, love can mean different things.

If you could describe your perfect relationship using a song title from Rough Drafts Pt. 1, which song would it be?

"Broken Hearted" because it's a non-judgemental love. I'm very different because I've been through a lot of life very quickly, so I'm just a little bit crazy, and that's a song about someone who loves me past all of that. They understand me. Like, 'Although you're crazy, you're wounded and you're bruised, I'm still here to love you.' So that's the love I hope to receive and the love I hope to give.

What kind of man do you hope to become, outside of your art?

I always want to be who God wants me to be, so that's first. Also, I just hope to be the best at whatever I decide to do. I want to become more patient in my life. I always try to be and do good, and my intent is always a loving spirit. And you can never become someone you're not proud of if you live like that.

Within your work, what do you hope for the future?

I want to direct an Oscar award-winning movie. Yeah, I want to start directing that's why I've been doing all my own videos recently. It's painting my picture, my brush, the way I see it. It's coming from head to the screen, which is pretty amazing. So I want to keep sharpening that tool.

"It's painting my picture, my brush, the way I see it."

For more Trevor Jackson, follow him on Instagram. Be sure to catch him in this summer's Superfly, in theaters June 15. And if you haven't already, listen to Rough Drafts, Pt. 1.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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