I basically got my start as a writer in the entertainment industry. I remember that one of the first rules I was taught is, while celebrities rarely remember the good articles that were published about them, they almost always remember the bad ones—all the way down to the person who penned it (a classic example of this is back in 2016 when Joe Budden flippantly dismissed a Complex writer while on Hot Ones and then in 2017, well, this happened—"Here's What Will Happen If You Write a Bad Article on Joe Budden..."). Keeping this in mind doesn't prevent me from being fair or honest when writing a piece, but it does (for the most part) keep me from providing commentary in a tone like I actually know celebrities personally; even when I speak with them directly.
Where am I going with this? I'm human. I'm also in media. So, just like a lot of the free world, I have my own opinion about a lot of things that make up celebrity culture. All of that stuff that went down with Omarion, Apryl Jones and Lil' Fizz last year is no exception. And yes, while Omarion did seem to display an impeccable amount of self-discipline when it came to choosing to respond rather than react to all that went down, as a marriage life coach, I also figured that there was a whole lot more to the story; things that could've caused Apryl to react rather than respond. And then came an interview that I recently checked out that featured Omarion. I'll share some of what he said. You tell me if it provided you with another piece of their complex and layered puzzle.
Ever Wonder What Omarion’s Take on Commitment Is? Here Ya Go.
While Omarion was on SWAY'S UNIVERSE discussing all things his life, I peeped something interesting that he said (at the 8:35 mark) when he was asked about how he feels about marriage.
"I'm unconventional and I don't really subscribe to the marriage business concept. It's not really beneficial for a person like me; to work hard and then split half with someone else…you can have yours, I can have mines and we can create something together. I'm definitely for that. Marriage is just, I don't know. The institution of it all, you know, going down to the court, it's the whole process. I've had to be in court before, and just to see the system not really support, you know umm, men, you know…in an equal type of sequence…down at the courthouse, it's literally two men who work there and then the rest of the staff is women."
OK, so let's pause here for a sec. Before you chalk up what he's saying to it being emotional or relational deflection, you might want to read where marriage licenses came from; it ain't a pretty picture (check out "The Ugly History of the Marriage License in America" and "Unlocking the Past: Marriage License History"). Plus, women do file for divorce most of the time. I once heard a guy (Preach from the podcast Aba & Preach) say that, "Marriage for men is, 'Aye girl, I bet you half my s—t that we're gonna stay together forever." But it wasn't what Omarion said there that, to me, was like a shot heard around the world when it comes to relationships (I'm merely providing that for context). It's this next part.
At the 11:45 mark, when someone on the show asked, "But monogamy? You rock with monogamy." (Monogamy means being married to one person; what she was referring to is exclusivity.) This is what he said.
"Well, elaborate. What do you mean by 'monogamy'?" (Sway clarified by stating, "Being committed to one woman sexually.") "Umm, I don't know. I don't know if I've been motivated or inspired to feel like I can be with one woman. I don't know if one woman has rocked my world like that…I am definitely a faithful person. I stand by my words and what I say I'm gonna do. But umm, that's a tricky question…I believe in it though, but I don't know if…"
Alright, y'all. What stood out to you about what he said there? For me, it was that no woman has rocked his world enough for him to try exclusivity or monogamy.
And hearing that caused me to literally say, "Wow" with an immediate follow-up of, "So, you can put two whole babies in someone but not be 'motivated' or 'inspired' enough to marry her?" Deep. Super deep. And if me, as a woman who has absolutely nothing to do with Omarion and Apryl's situation whatsoever, could feel a twist in my stomach while hearing that, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Apryl to actually live out that reality. Yeah…sometimes we don't know what causes someone to react; we just see them do it.
But this lil' write up isn't so much about Omarion and Apryl (because again, I don't know all of their story). It's just that, what came out of Omarion's own mouth, it actually served as a solid intro to this particular topic. I wonder how many hearts could be spared, time could be saved and delusions could be put to rest if more people didn't get into relationships assuming someone was on the same page as them (check out "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have")—or thinking that, just because a person cared about them or even "created something beautiful with them", marriage was inevitable.
Hmph. It also caused me to wonder how many men are out here appearing to be commitment-phobes when the reality is that, like Omarion, they haven't been "inspired" or "motivated" enough by a woman to actually settle down. Could a part of that be because we are doing so much of the work in the relationship and, while they love us for it, they see no reason to make a lifelong commitment? I mean, some of y'all might be triggered or even pissed by what Omarion said, but only he knows what would make him want to say, "I do" to someone. Clearly, the mother of his children—two children—wasn't it (which is something else that he mildly addressed in the interview as well). Now bookmark that as we go a little bit deeper.
Men Know When They Are Being Pressured into Marriage. And They Hate It.
A podcast that I've referenced on this platform before is Aba & Preach. In a semi-recent episode entitled, "These women want to PRESSURE men into marriage", they featured some clips from Steve Harvey's talk show where three female relationship experts where interacting with a couple. It was a Black couple that featured a woman who really wanted to be married and a man who was basically put on blast on national television for not putting a ring on it…yet. Peep Aba's hot take on it all (at the 5:05 mark).
"Look at how they are coercing this man into making a decision that he is not ready. If you're not happy with how long it is taking him, you can leave. That is your right. You don't have to wait. The same way when I'm trying to get it on with a girl and she says, 'I'd rather wait for sex', you know what I don't do? 'Come on, give it up. Throw that poon-poon at me. Yo, I'm owed that poon-poon; I've been here. It's been two dates.' No, if she wants to wait and I don't want to wait, you know what I do? I leave…It's unbelievable, the entitlement of some people. This is a lifelong commitment."
He's got a point. There's more.
"You didn't even take the time to listen to his reasoning because he talked about not having any positive role models…maybe the reason why he doesn't want to engage in marriage and building a family is because he is being patient, 'cause he's seen what happens when men rush into things, start families and walk out."
"It kills me, because marriage is a disadvantage to men. In case of a divorce, it's men who get shafted. Child custody, it's men who get shafted. Family court, it's men who get shafted. And when you think of all of this stuff, men have to propose 100 percent of the marriages, women propose 80 percent of the divorces, we lose most of the money and yet, you still feel like you're entitled to pressure us into a situation that puts us at risk. Think about that. Slow it down."
Whether we want to accept this or not, I know a lot of men who see marriage from this perspective. It's not that they are incapable of love or even commitment; it's that 1) they don't want to be pressured into marriage (would you want to be?) and 2) they are fully aware of the risks and they haven't experienced a good enough reason to take them. Like most things in life, when a man doesn't want to get married, it's not (usually) a black and white reason; there are layers to this thing.
Yet the reason why I'm sharing all of this with y'all is two-fold. One, it's to offer up some words, not from a woman's perspective or even a female self-help author's book—but straight from the mouths of men. Omarion said that he is not really into marriage and some of his points, while I don't personally subscribe, are not frivolous; they have some validity. And Aba & Preach?
Ladies, if you feel like humiliating or emasculating a man into marrying you is the only way to get him to do it, you are in the wrong relationship. You also don't "love him" as much as you might think you do. Force (or control or manipulation), in any direction, is the epitome of anti-love. Whether it's coming from a man or a woman.
Again, I counsel people quite a bit and, when it comes to single women who desire to be married, a lot of their energy is spent in trying to convince a guy that marriage is for him rather than actually asking about his thoughts, accepting his perspective and then deciding if that works for them or not. The latter is the way to go because, if the two examples that I provided did not reveal anything else, it's that a man can feel deeply for you and still not want to marry you. So, if that is indeed what is currently happening in your life, what should you do?
Three Things to Consider If Your Man Loves You but DOES NOT Want to Marry You
1. Don’t Automatically Assume That Love Equates to Marriage
Not too long ago, I wrote a piece about how friendships have levels. You know what else does? Love. There is a difference between dating and courting. There is also a difference between loving someone and being in love. And, there is a difference between a man who enjoys a woman's company and a man who is ready to make someone his wife (check out "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material").
There is actually a guy I know who has been dating the same woman for about six or seven years now. He's only seeing her, he cares for her deeply and says that he is only sleeping with her. Know what else? He has absolutely no intentions of ever marrying her. Not because of "her" but because he never wants to get married. Do I think that he's a jerk or wasting her time? No. Whenever she comes up, I simply have one question—"So, she knows that you are never going to marry her…right?" According to him, the answer is "yes" so…there you have it.
Would I do what she's doing? No. But that's because 1) I desire marriage someday and 2) I have been the girl who has given my all to a man, all the while thinking that I was investing in a marital future, only to realize that I absolutely was not because that is not what he had in mind (also check out "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife").
Still, I think there is a dysfunctional conditioning that comes with believing—or is it assuming?—that if a man loves you, marriage is inevitable. Or if a man loves you and doesn't want to get married, he never loved you at all. Yeah, that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage" saying has a lot of us jacked in the head. Believing that romantic love can't—or even shouldn't—exist without marriage is about as dysfunctional as believing that there is something wrong if you get married and choose not to have children.
So, if your man reveals that he doesn't want to marry you, please don't automatically throw him into the "horrible guy who led you on" category or chalk what the two of you share up to being a farce. The love may be very real. It's just that you two are not on the same page about how it should manifest. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Honor Your Own Time
There are two men from my past who, I really should've ended things with them, way earlier than I did. One guy, I was "scared" to break things off because, although I wasn't in love with him, I was "scared" to start over. The other guy, he was a vacillator—one day, I was the one and he needed more time, the next day, he wasn't sure. So yeah, let me interject another point here. A guy who is ready for marriage…HE IS READY FOR MARRIAGE. There is no flip-flopping. There is no wishy-washy. There is no riding the fence. If he can't marry you immediately, it's only because he's got a viable plan and he is taking steps to get into position.
With that said, if you desire to be married and the man who loves you does not, you've got a decision to make—who do you love more? Him? Or yourself? And a part of what comes with self-love is honoring your time. Staying involved with those two guys took up a lot of my 20s and 30s—my prime baby-making years. I won't blame them for that because I chose to remain. But, if I could do things over again, I would've definitely honored my time more and better. I would've been more intentional about understanding that love isn't enough; not when you want love to manifest in a way that it's currently not.
If a man is vague, dragging his feet, doesn't know or, does know and you're just not accepting that his answer is "no", he doesn't want what you do. And to take on the mentality of "maybe he will one day" is dishonoring the precious moments that you won't get back. It really is best to release the relationship and continue preparing.
If he catches up to you someday, awesome. But if he doesn't, at least your heart will be free and open to someone who may be way ahead of him. Someone who, along with the Universe, has been waiting on you to let him…go.
3. Be a Wife…ONLY TO YOUR ACTUAL HUSBAND
Something that I tell my single male friends who claim to be unsure about marriage is, "I bet if we quit acting like we're already your wife without requiring that you marry us, you'd figure it out real quick." We're out here cooking meals, giving up the good-good, supporting men like they've already told God that they would have our back until death—then we wonder why they aren't considering marriage? For what? They've already got a wife in us without them having to do nearly as much in return. In our minds, we think that "overdoing it" is how we can "win them over" but, more times than not, that backfires. We really do need to pull back a bit—if not a ton.
The root word of relationship is "relate". Relating is about establishing a true connection. Pardon the pun but, for better or for worse, we as women have an uncanny knack for running waaaaaay ahead of men in relationships. That's a part of the reason why we're so devastated once we realize that who we love—and claims to love us—doesn't desire marriage or…doesn't desire to marry us. And that's why it's so important to practice reciprocity. Discuss with your partner what the two of you want, where the two of you are and what you're both willing to do or not do. Don't give your all—on any level—if he is not doing the same. In short, pace yourself. The only man who deserves your very best is the man who is willing to reciprocate that. And if, to you, your best is wifedom, don't be a wife to anyone who isn't your actual husband.
Do I believe a man can truly love a woman and never want to marry her? 100 percent. At the same time, do I think that a woman loves herself if she desires marriage and stays with a man who doesn't want what she does? Not as much or as well as she should. You deserve what you desire. Don't allow any kind of relationship or even a man's "level of love" to convince you of otherwise.
Otherwise, you could be out here married to someone who will never marry you. And that is no way to spend your time. All that will do is cause you to react than respond. Time's a tickin'. Choose wisely.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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Feature image by Mike Marsland/WireImage