Upon first glance of Raye Raye's Instagram, one might mistakenly conclude the obvious--that she's just another pretty face who also happens to be really good at doing makeup, and that those two popular facts alone are the foundation of her Insta-fame. And then, more than likely, you'd find yourself scrolling down as far as 16 weeks deep into flawless selfies and product promos before dismissing Raye as “just another beauty blogger" whose 800K followers helped land herself at the heart of your Explorer page.
But trust us, you'd be wrong. Well, not about the pretty and popular part.
Raye Raye is not just another MUA. Take away the makeup and she'd still more than likely be able to sell you off her heart and humor alone. Which in all honestly, has probably helped with branding herself in a now saturated industry as “beauty blogging."
“It's funny and probably no one believes me, but before all this Youtube stuff, or before people knew my name, I didn't like to be the forefront. I'm shy."
I believe it. The humble ones usually are. When I had the pleasure of speaking with 25-year-old makeup maven Raye Boyce, I'd already did my research. Between her Instagram clips of infectious laughter and cutesy pranks on her husband and manager Eric, to her 500,000+ viewed video decoding the secrets behind a “flawless selfie" (hint: it takes like 50 filters and five apps), I knew Raye was different from her fellow beauty peers. She was refreshingly personable and unapologetically honest.
"My first time dabbling in makeup was when I was a junior [in high school]. I always played with it but never wore it out. It wasn't until senior year of high school that I started wearing a little bit of mascara, eye shadow and lip gloss.
I was always a tomboy. And it's funny because growing up, I don't know if my mom wanted a boy and that just never happened, but she used to give me cornrows like Queen Latifah in Set it Off and I'd have sneakers on. It was crazy. I didn't start becoming a girly-girl until senior year."
That might explain a few things. But Raye, real name Raytifa — “My father's name is Ray. My mothers's name is Tiffany. They like to make up names!"— doesn't just have another “ugly ducking" story to tell or sell (although ironically, she admits she was made fun of for her "duck lips" growing up).
Nope. She actually confessed that her success in the beauty industry, which has now afforded Raye the luxury of self-employment by way of huge advertising bucks, sponsorships, and even features in ElleMagazine, didn't come without tons of doubt and was indeed by way of accident. The Boston native, who moved to New York in an attempt to find herself while most of her friends were off to college, admits that her bad anxiety kept her indoors most of the time and, as a result, on social media.
"I would post pictures [on Facebook] like, 'Hey I got this $1 lipstick from the beauty supply store in New York,' etc. So another YouTuber- she was already in the game and she's an OG- she approached me like, 'Have you ever been interested in doing Youtube?' And I was like, 'Well, that sounds kind of stupid!' Why would I sit there and be all into myself on camera, putting make up on?' She was like, 'Just give it a try. Just do one video and if you don't like it, whatever!'
So I gave it a try and posted it. It was my 'Everyday Makeup' video and people liked it. And it got a lot of views for how small my following was. Then from there, it just blew up and people kept watching and I just kept posting. I didn't intend on becoming a [beauty] 'YouTuber,' I didn't even know what the heck that was.
And as the followers continued to amass, Raye would continue to post videos in her free time, steadily picking up traffic as she found herself flourishing in the online beauty industry. However, with the mini-fame also came the price to pay for it- the negative comments. Which was almost enough to drive a zen-like, carefree Raye Raye to call to log off for good! The biggest obstacle for me was putting myself out there.
"When I first got my little group of negative comments, I wanted to quit. I was like, 'I don't have to deal with this. This [doing make up] is a choice that I have. I don't have to put up with crap like this when I can be around people who love me and respect me and not deal with negativity from people that I don't even know.'
But at the end of the day, that's what [naysayers] want you to do. They want you to quit. And it's just not going to happen. (Mimics Mary J. Blige) 'Don't need your hateration and holleration' over here."
And thank God she didn't stop. Raye-Raye, who admits that she got into the online beauty business while it was still transitioning into the lucrative industry that it is today, has now moved to L.A. and lives entirely off her profession as a makeup guru. She also humbly broke down how one is able to bank off beauty.
"I realized I could do this full time like a year and a half ago because I started getting sponsors. It's funny because now and days, the girls that are coming into the YouTube game and blowing up, they are getting sponsors immediately. So like me, I wasn't part of the beginning era, but I was somewhere in the middle, and I didn't start really getting big sponsors that I could actually make a living off of until I had about 300,000 subscribers. So it had to get to that point for me to actually be full-time and make a living and be able to take care of myself.
At first, you would bank off of your "Ad Sense." Google allows companies to buy ad space on your videos so when you click it, you're able to make money, but (the pay) can vary in range depending on your followers. It can range anywhere from a few dollars to $100,000 [in ads] and that's if you have like, a million subscribers. And then comes the sponsorships from the brands. Makeup brands, if they have a new lipstick or palette coming out, they'll contact you, they will give you 'X' amount of money for YouTube placement in your videos. So that is where most of the money comes from too!"
So to put it humbly, she's living. With a combined social media following that ranges in the millions, as well as over an impressive 40,000,000+ YouTube views, the young makeup maven has not only been sponsored by some of the top beauty brands (Makeup Forever, MAC and Smashbox just to name a few), she has also been featured in a Pantene Pro-V hair commercial for her luscious curly locks as well. All of this thanks to makeup and of course, her fanbase of loyalists who Raye-Raye affectionately refers to as her "Bay-Bays" (Babies!), who she is 110% loyal right back to. So loyal that the makeup expert recently decided to get deeper than skin-deep when she revealed she had anxiety, in hopes of helping others deal with it.
“I would bring it up in my previous videos but it would be more like a joking matter. Like I'd say, 'Oh, I could never do that, with my anxiety, I'd go nuts…' But people actually caught on to it. They were tweeting me and emailing me like, 'I have anxiety and I have depression too- can you talk about it?'
Raye admits that the pressures of keeping up with social media, a huge following and a demanding posting schedule can be the source of her anxiety and spurts of depression, and it times she feels guilty for letting her 'blessings' get her down:
[Being in the public can] trigger it. And that's why anxiety, it's like a funny little thing. Because sometimes you'll think you're fine, until months and months pass, and time passed, and then you realize you were suppressing your feelings. And that whole time you thought you were fine, you were actually ignoring [depression] while still dealing with it.
It was like, every time I got a break from [anxiety] it was like, 'Nope! Here is another trigger!' And it was getting worse. But then I thought, 'I have some nerve to be complaining when I have all these things. I could be on the street right now in the rain, sleeping on the concrete and not have any food…I have health, I have a roof over my head, I have a husband, I have food and my family.' But it gets to the point where you keep suppressing it and you keep ignoring it and you help other people with their issues while ignoring yours, until you get to your breaking point. And that's what happened!
Luckily though, Raye admits that she has sought some self-help through plenty of prayer, self-awareness and the advice from trusted loved ones, which just so happens to be her mother in law as well as that of her boyfriend of eight years and husband of three years, Eric Boyce --“He was my first real boyfriend." After meeting on Myspace, the two decided to do the long distance thing for a while (Eric lived in New York while Raye was still in Boston), before finally meeting in person and as the fairytales go, "it was love at first sight."
“When we finally first met, there were a lot of laughs… I am such an awkward person! I'm that person that leans in to give you a hug and they head-butt you. That's me! But there was no awkwardness. We just had a lot of laughs and we ate a lot. I just knew from there he was the one.
[Tweet "We just had a lot of laughs and ate a lot. I knew from there he was the one."]
Raye humorously refers to Eric as the "Martin" to her "Gina," and it's clear to see why. All over her Instagram and YouTube, when the two aren't cracking jokes on one another, the adventurists are riding four-wheelers, helicopters and even recently, sky-diving.
So what could possibly be next for the girl who at 18 felt hopeless but by 25, managed to seemingly figure it all out?
"In 5 years, speaking it into existence as a business woman, I will have my own make up brand and it will be sold in stores and it will be successful. As well as other brands. And I also hope to get into real estate so hopefully I'll own some property.And as far as my personal life, probably some little kiddies running around. Some little Raye-Raye's playing in makeup, just a good future with my husband, with [our little] family. Me and my husband have spoken about moving out of the country. We really like Thailand… Maybe Japan or Hong Kong. We'll see!"
She came. She saw. She contoured!
A modest goddess who keeps it humble between mumbles. I'm a journalism graduate with a HERstory in digital media, print and radio. Roll the credits: Power 96, VH1, xoNecole, EBONY, SOHH. Deemed "Top 20 Women in Media" by Power 105. Bronx made me, Broward raised me.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images