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
There are two words that Rachel Lindsay keeps returning to over and over again: Rest and renew.
The ambitious, self-described “type A” media personality just left one of her more prominent roles after three years, and instead of being anxious about the downtime, she’s finally learning to take a few moments for herself.
When we talk via Zoom in late August, Lindsay, 38, has just returned from a lunch date with a friend, the type of midday social outing she’d never had time for previously. In a week, she’ll be heading to Europe for an Eat, Pray, Love trip. It’s the first time she’s had time to go to Europe in five years.
“You ask me what I have time to do? Take care of me,” she says, beaming.
In the past six years, Lindsay has made a lot of changes. After becoming the first Black woman to lead ABC’s Bachelorette dating series in 2017, she fell in love with Bryan Abasolo, the man she chose on the show, and married him. Enamored with the world of entertainment but also accustomed to the stability that being an attorney provided her, she returned to practicing law in her native Dallas, Texas, while pursuing media opportunities on the side.
For a time, Lindsay would fly herself to Connecticut to co-host ESPN’s Football Frenzy radio show. The role was perfect for the Dallas Cowboys fan and sports fanatic who majored in sports management and once dreamed of becoming an agent. In 2019, when she finally felt she’d saved enough money and made enough connections, she made the leap and left the legal profession behind, determined to bet on her entertainment dreams.
Working as an on-air correspondent for Extra was one of Lindsay’s first big roles as a full-time media personality. In this job, she interviewed celebrities such as Halle Bailey and Anthony Anderson. She also notably conducted the controversial interview with Bachelor host Chris Harrison that subsequently led to his departure from the franchise. After Harrison told Lindsay he felt people needed to have “grace” for a contestant who had attended an “Old South” party, Lindsay publicly announced her plans to distance herself from the series.
Today, she cites changes in Extra’s leadership and her responsibilities as the reason for her recent departure after three years. “I just didn’t fit within the new regime,” she reveals to xoNecole.
Lindsay is currently focusing her energy work-wise on her two podcasts with The Ringer Podcast Network, the Higher Learningshow with Van Lathan, and Morally Corrupt. Despite the extremely different subjects – Higher Learning touches on race and politics while Morally Corrupt finds Lindsay commenting on her favorite Bravo reality shows – she gushes when speaking about both, calling podcasting “the most liberating thing you can do.”
On Higher Learning, she’s challenged by her co-host, Lathan, to think in new ways. She’s regularly in conversation with prominent figures such as Tracee Ellis Ross and Billy Porter.
Lindsay, a “Bravoholic” whose favorite Real Housewives franchise is Potomac and whose favorite Housewife is Nene Leakes, is no less passionate about Morally Corrupt, even if the subject matter is much lighter. “I’ve always loved reality TV because it was such an escape from my real world. Part of me admired people who could put themselves out there in a way that I believed I never could, until I went on reality TV,” Lindsay says.
Courtesy of Rachel Lindsay
The podcast host says she never intended to find love when she went on The Bachelor, and she was surprised when she was asked to lead season 13 of The Bachelorette. Going from viewer to reality TV star quickly opened her eyes to the demands of being a public figure. After receiving initial criticism from viewers about choosing and marrying Bryan Abasolo, she realized she wanted to become more protective of certain aspects of her personal life.
“I quickly learned that we had to protect what we had, and stop trying to prove it to other people and convince people to know what we knew to be true,” she says. “I wish I could share more of my relationship. But the moment you do that, you have to continue to provide more and you have to continue to answer.”
In many ways, Lindsay benefited from being on a show like The Bachelorette, where the contestants are confined to a limited environment over a temporary amount of time. She says she doesn’t think she could ever be on a reality show where she’s expected to reveal all aspects of her life constantly. In fact, she says if she ever had pregnancy news or updates about her relationship with Abasolo, she wouldn’t make a big public announcement.
Since walking away from The Bachelor franchise, the former Bachelor Happy Hour host says she’s been approached to participate in recent seasons, specifically this year’s season with Black lead, Charity Lawson. Lindsay says she ultimately declined to participate. “I just started thinking I can have a relationship with Charity – whose number I do have and I have talked to – outside of the show. I don’t need to come on television to put that out there for other people,” she says.
Reflecting on her life today, Lindsay is trying to learn the benefits of being still. She’s not planning to do any on-air correspondent work for the time being, and she’s not planning to release another book, the followup to the collection of essays Miss Me with That or the fictional Real Love.
As her 40th birthday approaches in a couple of years, she’s been thinking a lot about the popular quote, “You are, right now, as young as you'll ever be again” from the FX drama Fleishman Is in Trouble. If she does start on a new creative project, it might delve into this notion, she says. “I think I could do something in that space about adulthood and getting older and maybe questioning things in life because I think we all do it,” she tells xoNecole.
Lindsay is not rushing the process, though. For now, she’s remembering to rest and renew.
“We'll see what comes out of this state that I'm in.”
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Featured image courtesy of Rachel Lindsay
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography