Whether you like it or not, Joseline Hernandez is here to stay. For nearly a decade, the self-proclaimed Puerto Rican Princess has claimed her throne as reality TV royalty, captivating viewers with her on-screen antics and infectious off-screen persona. Since parting ways from her veteran-run on VH1's acclaimed show, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Joseline has since transitioned into running a show of her own, launching season 2 of her highly anticipated production, Joseline's Cabaret on Zeus Network.
Since its premiere, the controversial, high-action series has garnered a groundswell of online attention from its instant-viral moments. Following the shocking "Double Homicide" comment, along with Joseline's recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show where she self-advocated for more respect on her name, the show displays all the qualities of must-watch TV.
Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez
Joseline's latest endeavors mark a pivot in her long-standing career, highlighting her ability to turn her past hurdles as a teen-runaway turned stripper — to now mother, fiance, and showrunner — as a feat worth celebrating. Although her path has been unconventional, it's one that's been carved out by resilience and a whole lot of hustle; and she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
For xoNecole, Joseline spoke candidly about what to expect from the new season of her hit show, Joseline's Cabaret, why she's making space for women in the sex work industry, and how she's taking her career back into her own hands.
xoNecole: You've been open about your childhood and being a runaway at just 14 years old. Looking back, how did being independent at such a young age help you become the woman you are today?
Joseline Hernandez: How I started out life was so dramatic, it made me want to figure out a way to cut that tail. You're like, "I don't want to be here, I have to figure out what I want to do with my life." When I was 21-22, I figured out that I wanted to do something like Joseline's Cabaret. I used to be a stripper, I always wanted to entertain. When I was 21, I realized, "I can entertain, I'm about to do this." I didn't have it easy like Beyoncé or Rihanna or any of the other girls who had help from their parents. I did it all by myself.
When you're 21, you're still a teenager. People think you're grown but you're not. Me not having help and having to struggle, I said to myself, "One day, you're gonna be somebody, you're gonna make it. Those dreams that you had as a child, you didn't forget them, and since you didn't forget them, you must fight to get them." And that's what I did.
That's why I think I was able to break the spell for me and my daughter. Moving forward in life and carrying that torch, I was able to do it for my last name and for my family's blood, Hernandez, and I was able to change the future. It came with a lot of pain and suffering, but I made it happen.
"I said to myself, 'One day, you're gonna be somebody, you're gonna make it. Those dreams that you had as a child, you didn't forget them, and since you didn't forget them, you must fight to get them.' And that's what I did."
Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez
Instead of being a victim of your circumstance you’ve been victorious in shifting your story. What was the shift in your mindset that you hope to pass down to the women in your Cabaret?
JH: It's always a decision that's going to make you a better person. I always make a decision to stop doing something that's not good for me, and I never go back. For the ladies at the Cabaret, they really have to make sure that what they do moving forward, is the best decision. And that's how you're going to become great: it's always that one decision that's going to take you to the next level.
Could you take us through the moment when you decided you wanted to make the pivot from 'Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta' to create and executive produce a show of your own?
JH: When you're working for another person for a few years, you realize that everything you were giving to that person, you can give it to yourself. I stayed with LAHHA for six years, but there came a point where I was like, "I'm a mother, it's time for me to do something for myself. What can do that's going to change everything in my life and my daughter's future?" And that was to finally create my passion which was Joseline's Cabaret. To finally put that together was all I ever wanted. I felt like I didn't need to keep doing LAHHA because I needed to do something for me.
Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez
You’ve gone from being the star talent on 'LAHHA' to being the producer of your own show. Is there anything that you gleaned during your time working with Mona Scott Young that you aim to do differently in your own productions?
JH: What makes me different is that the ladies know who I am and I know who they are. I don't have to do fake and phony stuff because I know what's real. I really didn't have to produce any of the ladies this season, because they know what they came to do. It's a competition, four ladies get to perform at the Cabaret and get $10,000, so there's no production there. Everyone has their own energy and their own attitude. And I think that's what makes me different, I don't have to lie to kick it.
Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez
There is a lot of discussion around positive representation for Black women and WOC on reality TV, what do you say to folks who may not fully see the vision behind ‘Joseline’s Cabaret’ in helping these ladies make a positive change in their lives?
JH: By the end of the season, they'll understand the whole purpose. I'm just putting the show together, I can't tell the ladies how to act. You can't produce 20 fights in one night, nobody's that lucky. This is real life, it's organic. I can be kumbaya all day, but they're gonna do what they're gonna do and I gotta let them rock. The first whole week, the ladies were going crazy, but I got them together. So it gets better.
You say that if you didn’t have your daughter, Bonnie Bella, that you wouldn’t be the woman you are today if it wasn’t for her. In what ways has motherhood changed you?
JH: When you have a baby, you want them to be strong, smart, and healthy. When you put your focus into that, it makes you a better person. Becoming a mother allowed me to become the best version of myself. When you bring somebody into the world you want to be the best version of yourself so you can teach them everything you didn't learn.
For new episodes of Joseline's Cabaret, tune in every Sunday on Zeus Network. Follow Joseline Hernandez @joseline.
Featured image courtesy of Joseline Hernandez
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
Actor Sterling K. Brown has spent years playing a devoted husband and father on the hit television show, This Is Us. But in real life, his love story was almost put on pause after being friend-zoned by his wife, Ryan Michelle Bathe.
The American Fiction star stopped by the Sherri show and opened up about how his wife of 18 years initially put him in the “friend zone” before they progressed to a romantic relationship.
“She did put me in the friend zone,” he recalled to the talk show host. “But let me tell you something about that: Brown wasn’t going to stay in that friend zone.”
Because of the feelings he had for the First Wives Club actress, Brown expressed his need to give Bathe space until she was ready for a deeper commitment. “I had to stop talking to her for a minute because I had to let her know ‘Look I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be something a little bit more than that. So until you’re ready....we can just hang out for a little bit,'" he says.
Luckily, the Emmy-winner’s patient persistence paid off and the two now share a dynamic that Brown says is “almost like brother and sister and husband and wife at the same time.”
Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe’s love story dates back to their college days as students at Stanford University in 1998. In 2006, the two eloped and, in the following year, celebrated with a more extensive wedding. They are now parents of two sons, Andrew, 12, and Amaré, 8.
Now, the two are taking on a new project together as co-hosts of their upcoming podcast, We Don’t Always Agree, that’s said to give listeners a peek into their approach to topics ranging from marriage advice, parenthood, politics, and more.
“After 18 years of marriage, you don’t always agree, but you figure it out,” he says. “You make a decision every day to say ‘yes’ to your partner. And we’ve said ‘yes’ for 18 years — and we’re really, really happy.”
“We sort of approach things slightly differently. She has a different perspective as a Black woman, and I as a Black man," Brown adds.
After nearly two decades of being together, the Honk For Jesus actor says that the secret to a happy marriage is ultimately about having fun and sharing playful humor with each other. “Me and my wife laugh a lot,” he says. “We’ll be married 18 years in March, and one of the secrets to that is being able to laugh at and with each other.”
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Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage