The comeback is always greater than the setback. And in the case of Jordyn Woods, the aftermath of an evanescent storm that was her personal life is looking like the biggest f*ck you. Because instead of staying down, the now 22-year-old bossed up, releasing clothing lines, fitness guides, making big-screen moves, and on-stage singing debuts that have her 11.6 million Instagram fans on the edge of their seats wondering what other tricks the California girl has up her sleeve.
Nearly a month into quarantine we hop on a call from our respective homes, nearly 3,000 miles away from one another. After navigating the distractions of our temporary living situations, we settle into a flow of conversation that is part-interview and part-girl talk. Days blend together just as seamlessly as her foundation, but Woods pays it no mind. With every sunrise comes a new opportunity to set the pace for her success.
"I wake up and I always create a million things for myself to do, so I don't stay bored during this," she says in reference to the quarantine life that millions have recently adopted.
What fans see is a fresh-faced Woods posting picture-perfect selfies and bodacious body shots, but behind the scenes, she's building an empire. Fresh off of an impressive run on the hit celebrity singing show, The Masked Singer, Woods is revealing more than just her vocal chops. Underneath the mask is a woman who's really about her business. Her debut album will be released under her own record label, a move she said allows her to own all of the rights to her music while maintaining creative control of her passion project. She's also using her platform to create a budding health and wellness community. Her brand FRSTPLACE— a series of workout programs that Woods swears by— was birthed from the idea of putting yourself first, something that admittedly took some time for her to understand. Fitness, she says, is what carries her through the days and helps with her mental health.
"It was never about physical appearance," she says. "My dad was always healthy, never sick, and then passed away really quickly from pancreatic cancer. So it was kind of a wake-up call to get it together but more importantly, it was more important because fitness became therapy for me, and doing something that helps me feel good and look good."
Along with her activewear line SECNDNTURE, Woods is hoping to help transform the bodies and minds of those who follow her. She recently created a fitness challenge awarding $1,000 to the top two transformations. "I really just did that to help motivate people to have some center and to just get up and start doing because what's deeper than health is also mental health, and when you're sitting for too long it becomes toxic."
She's making the most of her moment while simultaneously shedding the shame of her past. Just last year she was dodging headlines linking her and the Kardashians, but in the worst way. And as we watched a teary brown-eyed Woods tell the tale of her fall from grace on Red Table Talk, many of us couldn't help but to empathize with a young girl in an unfortunate situation that may not have been much different than the mistakes of our own.
The experience has led her on a journey of self-evaluation and elevation. Everything from friendships to relationships has entered an excavation period as she rids herself of what no longer serves her and makes room for something new. This includes learning to forgive and fall forward.
"It's easy to take advantage of kind people; the world can turn you cold really fast," she says. "I love that I have the ability to not hold onto things and to move forward and to always remain myself and still be able to have love for people regardless of what happened. If God forgives people who have done wrong, I don't have the energy to hold onto people who have wronged me. What I also know is that in life we have the tendency to take things very personally. And what I had to understand is that most of the time it's never about us."
"If God forgives people who have done wrong, I don't have the energy to hold onto people who have wronged me. What I also know is that in life we have the tendency to take things very personally. And what I had to understand is that most of the time it's never about us."
Loss is something that Woods is no stranger to. The loss of friends and loss of loved ones all lead to a loss of innocence that often accompanies the transition of a young girl to a grown woman. Thankfully, she has her mother to help her navigate the world of womanhood. "She always told me when I was younger, 'Don't talk bad about anyone. I don't care if you don't like them, don't talk bad about them.' She always instilled in my mind always keep your integrity and don't speak badly about people."
"If someone is doing you wrong, they're doing themselves wrong and I don't have the energy to meet you at your level," she adds. "I'm going to stay where I'm at and if in the future you want to come to where I'm at I would love to meet you there. But if not, it's all good."
I point out that her vibrations must be sending positive energy into the atmosphere. Earlier this year she posted a photo of her girl group of celebrity friends that had Black girls celebrating the magic of brown-skinned beauties in her comments. "Every girl in that group is really their own person and everyone is so beautiful and individual in their own way," she says. "We can come and have a good time and it's no pressure and no competition. It's a really sweet, positive girl group."
Though she seems to be mastering female friendships, love is still a fickle friend in Woods' world. It slips in and out of reach, often making an appearance in the form of tests. Will she choose the bad boy or herself? "I'm trying to find my Russell Wilson...but right now I've got to hang out with myself for a bit."
Life has taught her that self-love isn't just what you allow in, but also what you keep out. "I think now people have this idea of ownership when it comes to relationships and I am like we are all individuals because personally I don't want to feel like I'm being owned. I don't need you to question me so I think just having trust in your partner is a big thing, and also understanding the idea of you don't own anyone. If it's meant to be, it will be."
"I wish that I got to grow up in the era that my parents did because things were a lot more genuine," she continues. "They didn't have Instagram, there wasn't as much accessibility. If you wanted something you really had to go for it. Now everything is just oversaturated. And love, people have the idea of it messed up. But yeah...I mean," she pauses and lets out of a deep sigh. "That's all I really have to say about that."
"If someone is doing you wrong, they're doing themselves wrong and I don't have the energy to meet you at your level. I'm going to stay where I'm at and if in the future you want to come to where I'm at I would love to meet you there. But if not, it's all good."
If she does find that special one though, we won't know until she's married. She likes to keep her private life private, only giving us a glimpse into what her world appears to be. A necessary move, too, if she is to stay on top of her game as a girl boss. Without the distractions of her personal life overshadowing the progress of her professional one, we're able to witness a young woman destined for stardom.
In December of this past year, she starred in the thriller movie Sacrifice alongside Paula Patton, an experience she said allowed her to observe how to move while on set. "She made everyone feel very comfortable and very welcomed. The vibrance of her personality and who she was and how talented she is was a learning lesson for me without her having to tell me anything directly."
Woods will appear in another thriller directed by Chris Stokes in the near future, though her true aspirations lie in making it to the big screen. She admits that she hopes to one day do films like Black Panther, but in the meantime, she studies award-winning movies (she recently tuned into the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite) while continuing to add more experience to her resume.
"Even when I started modeling when I was younger, every job is a stepping stone, every job is a learning experience whether it's big or small," she says. "I can learn from everything and sometimes I take jobs that aren't as big just to learn the art of the craft. It's about really learning and growing through every experience. Every person I work with, everything that I do is ultimately for me for growth and to learn from."
A fitness brand and apparel line, a budding television and film career, an upcoming album— is there anything that she can't conquer?
"Well, I want abs," she admits with a hearty laugh. "But that's tricky because the pantry is right here, and quarantine. But besides physical, I just really want to grow in my entrepreneurship and start more businesses and invest. I'd love to get into real estate and just...I have so many projects I'd love to do so it's really just creating a plan, thinking and prioritizing the list, and getting it done."
And we'll be here watching every moment. Not in anticipation of her downfall, but in celebration of seeing another Black girl climb from the ashes and rise to the top.
For more of Jordyn, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image via Jordyn Woods/Instagram
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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When we think about our overall health, how we keep up without physical strength and emotional endurance are often a top priority. But another muscle that’s just as important to keep sharp and in shape is our brain.
Our brain is the control center for everything we do. From its ability to keep our memory and motor skills in running order to maintaining the millions of subconscious functions that we’re unaware of, our mind is essential for overall well-being and quality of life. And while the wonders of our brain’s full capacity still remain a mystery, one thing that we can be sure of is its complex nature that controls one important factor, cognition.
“Brain cognition is a term for the mental processes that take place in the brain, including thinking, attention, language, learning, memory, and perception,” Anna Braunsdorf, VP of Content at Elevate Labs, tells xoNecole. “It's a critical part of our day-to-day life as it helps us understand and interact with the world around us.”
The brain is responsible for the storage and retrieval of information, allowing us to remember past experiences and learn from them. It controls our ability to focus on specific tasks or stimuli while filtering out irrelevant information and is crucial for language processing, including understanding, speaking, reading, and writing.
As we age, the need to keep our minds sharp and focused is more important than ever, and it’s never too early to start.
With November officially serving Alzheimer's Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize and understand the causes and preventive measures to take with this common disease that primarily affects memory, cognitive function, and the ability to carry out daily activities.
Thankfully, there are a number of specific exercises and practices that can contribute to and improve cognitive well-being. “We can do a lot of easy things to support our cognitive well-being on a daily basis, such as completing memory exercises, playing word games, meditating, and practicing mental math,” Braunsdorf says.
“Unsurprisingly, in this digital age, there are a host of apps available to support us in improving these skills while also making it fun. From Elevate, which trains practical cognitive skills in the areas of vocabulary, memory, reading, writing, speaking, and math through fun, research-backed games, to Balance, which is a highly personalized meditation app that can improve people's stress, sleep, focus, and mood, people can easily work on improving their cognitive well-being with the help of mobile apps,” she adds.
Engaging in activities that stimulate the brain promotes improved memory, clearer thinking, and reduced anxiety and depression, better mental health. Improved cognitive health is essential for overall cognitive well-being.
“The National Institute on Aging clinical research has reported that engaging in activities like music, theater, dance, and creative writing can improve quality of life and well-being in older adults, boosting their memory and self-esteem and reducing their stress and loneliness,” she says.
“As I like to put it: Physical health can help you live a long life, but cognitive health makes that life worth living.”
The road to a stronger and healthier brain doesn’t have to feel like mental gymnastics. In fact, Braunsdorf says that solving puzzles, especially crossword puzzles, is an effective way to maintain cognitive sharpness and have fun while doing it.
“Studies published in top medical journals have found that solving crossword puzzles, in particular, can improve cognition, problem-solving, and memory skills. According to a Harvard study, crossword puzzles can improve thinking and memory almost as much as an FDA-approved memory-enhancing medication by engaging multiple regions of the brain and training them to link new concepts together,” she says.
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Featured image by Vuk Saric/Getty Images