How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
We have all heard of love at first sight. But with technology taking the lead in how we interact with each other, "first sight" can mean an IG profile photo or a swipe on a dating app. Whatever your preference is with finding the one, when you get that gut feeling, everything else will fall in line. When it came to bringing together now-engaged couple, Jameila and Brooklyn, all it took was a FaceTime call. So should we say, love at first FaceTime for this modern day love story? I think it has a nice ring to it.
Even when sparks were flying between the couple, it wasn't until moving across the country was when Jameila and Brooklyn realized that their feelings for each other were real. Brooklyn mentions, "When I first saw Jameila, I remember telling a group of friends in a group chat, that in another life, I would marry Jameila and we would have four children. So when the opportunity presented itself when we both were single, I was already planning to make her my girl."
After three years of dating, Jameila and Brooklyn believe in following those gut feelings and setting intentions behind them when it comes to love. Paying attention to your partner's needs and working together to make sure you show your love in different ways is how their love story became a success after one unexpected phone call. In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the dancer and strategy director walk us through their beginning, their courtship, and their commitment to take on the world together.
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
How We Met
Brooklyn: We actually met each other via FaceTime in 2013 through one of our mutual friends. I was on FaceTime with my friend and I saw Jameila walking in the background. My initial thought when I saw her was, 'Oh my God, who is that?' There was just this natural radiance of beauty that attracted me to her when I first saw her. But nothing really happened until we finally met in person in 2016, when I was moving to Atlanta.
Jameila: My friend and I were on tour for The Color Purple for two years, so it happened multiple times where my friend would call him and they would be on FaceTime together. But in 2016, we met in person at his going away party in Chicago, before he moved to Atlanta. At the time, we were both in relationships. So we just stayed friends. Then, I moved to Atlanta a year later. I actually initiated us hanging out in Atlanta via Snapchat after I moved because I didn't know a lot of people out there. I didn't see us hanging out as a way to get intimate or anything though.
Jameila: So before I say this, we both disagree on what our first date was (laughs). For me, my first date with Brooklyn was when we went to this taco spot by his place. We started to really talk about each other's history and got to know each other better. We had already been hanging out before then, but I don't consider anything before that an actual date (laughs).
Brooklyn: In Atlanta, my apartment building was on top of this sushi restaurant. I remember her coming by and we decided to go have sushi. We were chilling and talking like good friends would do. But in the back of my head, I was already planning to make her my girl (laughs).
Jameila: Let me just say, Brooklyn is a very special man (laughs). He knew that I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and wasn't trying to jump back into another one so soon. But Brooklyn definitely was courting me and letting me know that he could be an option (laughs). He has done so many things for me even though we were not together. One thing he did for me was plan my 25th birthday party back in Chicago.
That following weekend, I had planned to visit this other guy I was talking to who lived in Missouri. Brooklyn even drove me to the airport to see the other guy, girl (laughs). When I was in Missouri, I honestly could not stop thinking about Brooklyn. The Missouri guy was actually a really great guy, so it wasn't even like that. But I just couldn't help myself with contacting Brooklyn. So that's when I knew. And literally when I got back, two days later Brooklyn and I got into a relationship.
Brooklyn: For me, the moment was a weekend I spent with her. For background, her mom stayed in Georgia, but far away from the city. With Jameila being a dancer, she would get out of dance class late sometimes. So because her mom didn't want her trying to rush home at 1 a.m., she started pushing for Jameila to spend the night at my place since I stayed in Midtown. So that one weekend with Jameila, I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman.
"I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Jameila: My favorite thing about Brooklyn is his attentiveness. Brooklyn is able to notice everything. I remember he would rub my legs after dance class, or he knows I'm a foodie so he is always making sure I've eaten. He is just really good at making sure he supports me any way that he can and I really appreciate that.
Brooklyn: I would go with her heart. She is legitimately a good person and it makes me think about how much of an asshole I can be at times. That's what I need. Being a Virgo, I can be better at being logical than being emotional. So she brings me back home and reminds me that we are all humans and not robots.
Brooklyn: I started plotting when I was going to propose to her when we decided to move to Los Angeles. After everything we have been through, I told myself if I am moving this woman across the country, I better make it a point in making her my wife. I proposed in December 2019 and I was putting things in motion around September/October. On my 29th birthday, I bought the engagement ring and made the arrangements for the location later on.
I started working with our good friend Dallas to set everything up. We made it seem as though she was going to dance for a concept video. And then, I would pop up out of nowhere and propose. I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too.
Jameila: So for me, the day already started off weird (laughs). Even when Dallas told me about the concept beforehand, I thought it was weird too (laughs). I didn't even think it would turn into my proposal. But that morning, Dallas told me I had to get my nails done. Again, weird (laughs). So after that, we drive up to this beautiful house and we were waiting on the videographer.
While we were waiting, Dallas tells me that we only had one take to shoot the video, so we had to get the dance down right. We do the take and after we finished dancing, everyone is just standing around smiling. I'm just looking around confused and then I see Brooklyn come down the stairs. It was beautiful.
"I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too."
Jameila: I would say sacrifice [has been my biggest lesson]. When it comes to love, I didn't realize how much you may have to sacrifice or compromise in a relationship. There is a lot of give and take. I think we both are pretty aligned with most things, but there have been little things we sacrificed for one another.
Brooklyn: Mine is going to be communication. I wouldn't say we argue, but we have had our disagreements. It's important that when you are trying to meet the needs of your partner and vice versa, it could all go smoothly by just having a conversation. Even if you talk about how something made you upset in the moment or something that made you feel happy. Instead of creating a narrative of your own, which I am guilty of, communicating with one another solves so many things.
Jameila: Moving away from my family was hard for me. It took a toll on our relationship where I felt I needed more time with Brooklyn since I was missing spending time with my family. We had to have a couple conversations around what was on his plate with the new job and everything, while finding that balance with spending quality time together.
Brooklyn: I would say with the pandemic and still learning how to effectively communicate with each other, last year during the holiday season was one of the toughest. But now we try to be as honest as possible when we are stressed about certain things and try to find a solution instead of making a situation bigger than it actually is.
Jameila: My top love language is quality time and physical touch. Brooklyn and I decided to be celibate until the wedding. So we came up with this thing called date wars to increase that non-physical intimacy for each other. We basically compete with each other on who can create the better date (laughs). I think adding these 'wars' was huge for me because there is so much thought and effort that goes into it. Filling in those spaces where physical touch would be nice, with more engaging moments have been the best.
Brooklyn: One of my love languages is quality time too, but it definitely has been hard. While sex is great, I care more about that emotional connection. When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex.
"When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Brooklyn: If you plan on taking that step into marriage, make sure that that person is your forever person. There are going to be moments where people in society are going to make you feel like you are boxed into a situation that you are honestly not sure about. Fear can actually be a good thing leading into anticipation, but having doubts is a whole other thing. There is no set time frame when you will know if this person is the one for you, but be 100 percent sure you are ready before taking that step. Do not take anyone on that roller coaster, including yourself.
Jameila: Definitely go at your own pace. It is not up to society, or your parents, or your friends as far as what's best for you in your relationship. What works for you and your partner, do not question that. Be honest with the feelings both of you have towards each other in order to focus on each other better. Other people's opinions can really cloud your judgement on things.
For more of Jameila and Brooklyn, follow them on Instagram @j_dance and @the.blackgatsby. You can also follow their love story on their YouTube channel here.
Featured image courtesy of Jameila
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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Whitney Alford’s presence can be seen and heard all throughout her longtime partner, Kendrick Lamar’s impressive rap career, inspiring such deep cuts like the 2009 song “She Needs Me” and providing background vocals on To Pimp a Butterfly’s “Wesley’s Theory” and “King Kunta.” Perhaps the most visible she has been was in his latest release, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, where she appeared on the album’s cover art with the couple’s two children, as well as in the visual for his single, “Count Me Out.”
The Grammy award-winning rapper is largely heralded as one of the greatest to ever do it, and the bond he shares with his high school sweetheart that has inspired some of his most introspective projects and self-reflective tracks has cemented Whitney as a forever muse.
The 37-year-old makeup artist has been with Kendrick since they were teenagers, with the couple meeting while attending Centennial High School. Both Whitney and Kendrick were born and raised in Compton, California, and began as friends before eventually starting a romantic relationship. In a 2015 conversation with Billboard, Kendrick expressed that he frowned on the way certain terms minimized who Whitney is to him. "I wouldn't even call her my girl," he told the outlet. "That’s my best friend."
“I don’t even like the term that society has put in the world as far as being a companion — she’s somebody I can tell my fears to.”
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
Months later, he confirmed to The Breakfast Club his engagement to his “Day 1.” I’m loyal to the soil. At the end of the day, you want to always have real people around you, period. Everybody that’s been around me has been down since day one, and I can’t change that. I don’t change for nobody. I always show respect when respect is being given and people that’s been by your side, you supposed to honor that. That’s how you stand up.”
Whitney can even be seen in the “King Kunta” visual rocking an engagement ring on her finger. Since then, Whitney and Kendrick have welcomed two children to their growing family, a daughter and a son whose names haven’t been revealed to the media, maintaining their famously private life.
Without a doubt, the most transparent and self-reflective he has ever been about his family life was with his most recent body of work, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. In the 2022 release, he gave insight into his past with cheating and addictions as a means of escapism. The song “Mother I Sober” features lyrics about how his “lust addiction” impacted his relationship with Whitney, rapping:
“Intoxicated, there’s a lustful nature that I failed to mention / Insecurities that I project, sleepin’ with other women / Whitney’s hurt, the pure soul I know, I found her in the kitchen / Askin’ God, ‘Where did I lose myself? And can it be forgiven?’”
Much like an image of their family life is the focus of the album’s cover, Whitney’s voice is also featured as a narrator on the album (as well as Eckhart Tolle), and in that song in particular, she can be heard saying, “You did it, I’m proud of you/You broke a generational curse.”
2022 also marked a new era of transparency online for Whitney on social media. The mother of two shared a portrait of herself holding her youngest child captured by Renell Madrano on her Instagram account and opened up about her mental health struggles to her followers in May 2022.
In the photo, she is standing in the light but also shrouded by some darkness and shadows around her. “We all know what others see may not be a true reflection of how we feel. This pic is a great representation of how I’ve felt for many years,” she began her caption.
“I was stuck in a time and place that was no longer my reality and was no longer serving me. My babies forced me to take a long look at myself and journey back through the very things that made me.”
“I’ve always carried the light with me. As a child no one was able to help me process. Many times silence was enforced because my emotions were a lot to handle. Hiding my pain has been a technique I’ve mastered my entire life. Mask it with a smile and everything is good. Silence has been my superpower, protecting me in the most vulnerable spaces,” she continued in her caption.
Whitney wrote that a great therapist changed everything for her and jumpstarted her personal transformation. “After a few years of hard work, I can finally say I hear my own voice again. And it’s very powerful. I use my smile when it feels genuine. And it’s beautiful,” she shared.
She concluded, “Allowing the world in and sharing my experience is one of my greatest fears. But truth is always very important for me. I’ve lived a sober life, feeling every single part of it, with the exception of mastering how to float when it’s all too much. But I yearn to be centered. To flow. To heal. To enjoy life.”
Recently, the vocalist gave another rare glimpse into her private life by posting photos of her with her daughter (who is Kendrick's twin) and her son on Instagram. In the carousel post, Whitney shared five slides showing herself in different elements of mothering her babies. “Me and them… Always, in all ways. The greatest and toughest job I’ve ever been tasked with. Love my babies,” she captioned the photo.
We hope Whitney is continuing her journey of flowing, healing, and enjoying life more.
Much love to the Duckworths.
Featured image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS