Jordin Sparks rose to fame in 2007 when she was crowned the youngest American Idol winner at 17.
Since then, the singer and actress has dominated the entertainment industry by selling millions of records and starring in countless films. In addition to the professional success, Jordin, now 33, also created a family with her husband, Dana Isaiah, and their 4-year-old son Dana Isaiah Jr, whom she occasionally shows off on her social media page.
During a recent interview with People, Jordin shared details about her family life, including the bond she and her husband built through their love of music and how she balances motherhood and work.
Jordin On The Beginning Stages Of Her Relationship With Dana And How The Pair Became an A&R Team
While promoting her partnerships with Women Who Rock and Hard Rock Heals Foundation organizations, Jordin revealed that when she first met her husband Dana, they instantly hit it off because of the pair's appreciation for music.
Jordin and Dana's love story began in 2017 after the couple's mothers placed the two in a group message. The "Battlefield" vocalist mentioned that she was thoroughly "impressed" by Dana when she heard his music playlists as they took a road trip.
"When we first met, we definitely bonded over our love of music. He really impressed me," she said. "We went on our first little road trip, and he had the aux cord, so he was taking the music, taking us on this journey. I really appreciated how he was able to transition from one song to the next. I was like, 'You have a really good ear.' He was like, 'Oh, thanks. I love music.' But he wasn't thinking the way I was thinking where I was just like, 'OK, he's got a really good ear. He's got really good taste.'"
The couple's bond over music grew as they married in July 2017, so much so that they are now working together as an A&R team. The "One Step at a Time" songstress disclosed that the process gradually began during the pandemic when she and Dana started working together on music. Shortly after, the 30-year-old would become her A&R and manager.
Reflecting on her marriage and working alongside her almost six-year-old husband, Jordin stated she is "grateful" to have Dana by her side.
"We both just work really well together. We both have our core values, we love each other, we like each other — which is really important. I think we're stronger now. We definitely have a bond that nobody can take away. I'm just really, really grateful to have him by my side," the Sparkle star explained while also talking about how well they work together.
Another reason why they work well together, Dana empowers her and believes in her dreams.
"My relationship with my husband empowers me all the time. He definitely wants to see me shine," she said. "I've never had a relationship where I felt that they really believed in my dreams, that they really wanted to see those things come to fruition, that they really wanted to be like, "Hey, spread your wings and fly. Try this, and go for that part, or do this song, or go for that collaboration, or show a little skin." So, it's been amazing to have somebody who literally is just, "Whatever you want to do, I want to be there to help you do it." It enables me to have freedom in my creative process and my work that I haven't had before. I'm very empowered."
Jordin On Her Son And Being A Working Mother
Later in the interview, Jordin spoke about her son Dana Jr. The mother of one opened up about Dana Jr.'s personality and how she tries to enjoy every accomplishment he has. Jordin described the kindergartener as "fun" and a truthful person.
"He is very, very fun right now. He's in kindergarten, and man, he is just always learning something new, which is fun, but what's really been fun for me right now is seeing his personality come through," the singer said. “He is 100% his own person. He has his own thoughts, [and] he's got his own opinions. With DJ, you're never going to wonder what's going on. He's always going to tell you the truth, so that's been really fun to experience."
Jordin went on to say that one of the things she enjoys about raising Dana Jr. is the close bond the pair have developed. She even marveled that her son "cuddles" with her and tells her he loves her.
Near the end of her statement, Jordin shared how she's been able to be present in Dana Jr.'s life despite being a working mom. The actress revealed that because of her hectic schedule and the constant traveling, she prioritizes leaving "work at the door" when she comes home because she doesn't want to miss out on Dana Jr.'s "milestones."
"With the kind of job that I have, I'm traveling all the time and going to different places. So for me, I have to leave work at the door because I want him to know that I am completely present when I'm with him. We're learning every day because he is our first and only baby, and so every day is something new. Every milestone that he hits is new for us. We're all just trying to celebrate together in those moments," she said.
With these recent revelations, it appears that Jordin has found the perfect balance between her personal and professional life.
Feature image by Michael Tran/Getty Images
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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What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs