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Y'all know we love a multi-hyphenate. Adrienne Bailon is that and then some. Over the years, our favorite Cheetah Girl has remained relevant with evolving identities from singer to actress to entrepreneur. Despite her first dream job of being an obstetrician, Adrienne's emergence as a superstar back in 1999 has proven that she is unafraid to experiment. Most importantly, The Real co-host's mission is centered around authenticity and transparency.
xoNecole caught up with Adrienne Bailon to talk about her beauty routine, the importance of self-care, being a serial entrepreneur, and why her new collaboration with Olay empowers women of color in more ways than one.
Adrienne Bailon: This is pretty easy. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Hydration is key. I know this sounds super cheesy, but drinking water. I am a crazy water drinker. I actually just recently got one of those reusable big jugs that give you the encouragement. I swear by that. I think that staying super hydrated from the inside out is key to staying cute. Number two, when we talk about moisture, I think so many of us think beauty secrets, we always think about our faces and a lot of us neglect our bodies. I was raised with a mom that straight out of the shower was like, "You need lotion! Don't come out here with ashy knees and elbows." I am so grateful for that.
I am obsessed with Olay Body. They just came out with this new body lotion collection, and it is everything because we've used collagen on our faces; I've literally even done the collagen in the smoothies and put it in our teas and all that kind of stuff. But I'm like, "Why not just put it on our actual skin?" And I'm super excited about their new Olay Firming Body Lotion. I have to say, you actually see a visible difference. I started using it maybe two, three weeks ago, and I already see a huge change.
I love the idea of literally lathering it on and then I'll notice the difference the most in my thighs because they look way more hydrated, way firmer. I suffer from cellulite, so this has been like a godsend for me literally to see a visible difference in the firmness of my skin. For me, self-care is skincare. I take my moment to kind of just do what I gotta do. That is super-important to me. The last thing would be rest as a beauty secret. I think so many of us don't think of that—creating space for yourself to just relax. If you're stressed out, it will show up on your skin.
Alone time. I think that in a business where I'm constantly surrounded by people and there's constantly a lot of chaos and talking, I think I really value my alone time. The moments when I get to hear the sound of my own voice. What is it that I want? What is it that I like? I think we don't realize that when we're around people, you watch the shows they want to watch. You listen to the music that they might want to listen to. It's very rare that you'll put on that random quirky song that maybe you just want to hear in the car.
I think that it's so important for me to have alone time. And that's really where I get a lot of my self-care time done, too. Obviously, I have a husband, so I live with someone else. For me, my alone time is in the bathroom. I literally take time to be like, "I'm checking out to go do my nighttime routine. I'm going to need like the next 30 minutes to just not hear anyone else's voice, but my own."
Oh! Crazy enough, it was 2021, not 2020. In 2020, we were in isolation and it was crazy but when things started opening again, it hit us like a ton of bricks. For me, at least, it was overwhelming. It felt like a lot. I think a lot of us were concerned about finances and feeling like you got to get back into it and strike while the iron's hot.
That whole mentality for me was really overwhelming and that's when I started recognizing like, 'OK, I have to find balance. Yes, the world is open, but there was something really special about the family time that I got.' That's what made me buy a home in New York. It's marvelous having a job in L.A. but this is a place to work. Home for me is going to be where my family is so it was just making those changes during that time that were really important for me.
Let's get into it, here. It is so important because I think that culturally, I don't think it's something that we focus on. I don't think people discuss the awareness of checking in on ourselves. How do we feel? That's self-care. Self-care for me is literally taking a piece of paper and checking off all the things, "Am I happy? Am I rested? What's stressing me out? What's going on?" Taking inventory of myself. And I don't think that culturally, we take that. I don't think that that's considered. It's like, go, go, go.
If you're not stressed out and hustling and killing yourself, then you're not doing well. I think that sadly, it's a mentality that we have when it comes to work and success. What does success look like? I think for us, it looks like working really, really hard when success can also be just being at peace with yourself and at peace with your life. I don't think we prioritize that nearly enough as much as we prioritize the success of working hard or climbing the corporate ladder and all those other kinds of things. I think self-care for women of color is extremely important because no one else is going to give it to us, but us.
You can not, and you can't expect anyone else to care about yourself like you do. So take those moments that you need. It's OK to express, "Hey, I'm taking a moment for self-care." I think exploring what self-care looks like to you is important too. It's not going to be the same as someone else's. If you are an extrovert, maybe self-care is doing something with a group of girlfriends and that's what you needed. Maybe you need a break from your kids. Maybe you need to have some adult time. Self-care for everyone is going to look different, but prioritizing it should be high on everyone's list.
A fearless female entrepreneur, if you think about it, if you're fearless, you're going to go for it. You're not going to second guess yourself. You are going to try it all, do it all, and be it all. There's something really dope about that. I think when we're fearless, we get out of our own way. And when we talk about self-care, I love that Olay is doing this campaign, and it's why I wanted to partner with them because how we start and end our day definitely contributes to how fearless we feel, you know. How fearless we feel in our skin, how we feel about our skin, and what do we do this morning that's going to benefit us two weeks from now. That mindset is so important.
I really do love that saying, "Do something today that your future self is going to say thank you for." I feel like my future skin is going to say thank you, my future mind is going to say thank you. The extra 20 minutes I put into not scrolling on Instagram and focusing on the things I have to actually do—being present— I'm going to be grateful for those things later on. And I think being present can make you fearless because you're living in the moment and not worrying about tomorrow.
I think those kinds of things are really important. And when you're fearless, especially as a female entrepreneur, you tend to not doubt yourself and you tend to actually believe in the ideas that you have, and that's where the success comes.
Courtesy of Olay
Oh my gosh. It's empowered me in more ways than one. I think that growing up, it was a staple brand in my home that I saw and now to see it being so innovative in 2021, I think that that in itself is inspirational. It's been around for so long and it's still doing groundbreaking things like putting collagen in a body lotion, putting hyaluronic acid in a body wash. These are things that were new that I wasn't seeing done in any other products.
For myself, especially as a female entrepreneur, to see that is inspiring, I'm like, 'Wow, so you mean to tell me that 30 years from now, I could still be doing something groundbreaking in jewelry and fashion.' Just to see that is super inspiring.
I love what they're doing for women of color entrepreneurs. They've partnered with LISC NYC to really empower women of color, especially in Washington Heights to do amazing things. I love that I am a female entrepreneur. I know what it's like to grow up in the hood and not have the information and the tools to become an entrepreneur. I had to learn so much along the way because I didn't have that knowledge.
I didn't have a mom that I can call and be like, "How did you do it?" I didn't have those connections. Sharing the information is super important and being able to work with brands that recognize the importance of supporting women of color is extremely important.
I am so excited we're back for season eight, with The Real. We are back in the studio with the girls and it's just been really special. Spending an entire year of being in Zoom boxes with random delays, we are so grateful that our audience stuck with us through all of that. And then to be back together, although we don't have a studio audience, I actually prefer it, as we're having really deep conversations. There's something really special about it just being the four of us and people that we're used to working with.
There are two cameramen and our stage manager, Sonia, who's been with us since day one. You can have those intimate, difficult conversations in a different way. I think that we'd have the tears on the seasons before but there was still an audience of over 200 people looking at it. It changes the dynamic. And I think it's been really, really special so far. I'm excited! I'm calling this our 'intimate season.' It's just the four of us. The table is gone. It's more casual. It feels special, and I think we're not taking this one for granted at all.
OK, she might not like this, but I love a good tingle lip gloss. I love lip plumpers. I feel like if it's not burning, it's not working, so I am a huge fan. There's this brand called BUXOM Beauty. I swear that all their lip colors are life-changing. There's going to be a little tingle factor, but I swear the shine stays. That's the one.
Featured image courtesy of Olay
Although it tends to happen less and less (finally), sometimes I will still get skeptics who will ask me, "How are you qualified to work with married couples if you've never been married before?" While I have a few answers for that, as it specifically pertains to the topic at hand, how I'll oftentimes respond is, "I know what it's like to be a child of divorce. Twice, in fact. We've got more insight than you think."
This, along with the amount of divorced people who I speak with on a pretty regular basis — y'all, if there is one thing that I'm passionate about, it's doing all that I can to help individuals to 1) choose their prospective partner wisely and 2) proactively do all that they can to avoid becoming a divorce statistic. Because no matter how common it may be these days, ask any divorced person you know and I'm pretty sure they will say that 1) if they knew then what they know now, they would've done things very differently either before or doing their union and 2) there is no easy or uncomplicated way to handle the breakdown in a marriage; that divorce is not simply a "break-up".
As the saying goes, I can show you better than I can tell you. Here are 14 people (middle names provided) who have openly and honestly shared with me why their marriage didn't last, from their perspective. They are doing so in the hopes that you will take their insights as an ounce of prevention if you are contemplating marriage and a cautionary tale if you are considering getting out without looking from a few other angles…first.
"What a lot of women don't realize is a lot of us can be OK with never getting married if it was just about us. Let me explain — men are sometimes more interested in a good mom for our kids than a wife for ourselves. We don't want our children to be in a broken home and so we get married to prevent that from happening. I already had one child before marriage, so I got married to have more. I loved my ex but I didn't love being married. So, I focused more on being a great dad than the best husband. It happens more than you'd probably think. Men just don't talk about it much."
"I don't know why people think they truly know someone after six months. You don't. It's not that my ex-husband is a bad guy. He really isn't. We just didn't know each other as well as we thought we did and it was actually me who started to resent him because of it. He wanted to make it work. I just started shutting down to the point where I made it impossible for him to want to stay. Get to know someone over a year, go to counseling on the front end and don't avoid therapy when you're in trouble after marriage. Forever is too long to marry a stranger."
"I'll own it but I've got to say that the Church is out here wrecking all kinds of lives. I say that because it teaches that if you want to have sex, get married to 'make it right'. Don't do that.
"To me, it was torture; especially since, when we did have it, it was just…alright."
"It's gonna sound cliché AF, but I was the person who thought I could change my ex. In our case, I'm an extrovert and he's an introvert. It doesn't seem like a big deal when you're dating because so much of what you do is with only the two of you. But you start to get sick of people who never want to go out, who avoid family functions, who don't want to do the holidays with family — ugh. I still own my part because I knew all of this, going in, and I thought my influence would change him. If you think you can totally change someone's personality, you're going to be really disappointed. Marry someone 'as is' or don't do it at all."
"Don't get married because you've given an ultimatum. It wasn't my wife that gave me one. I gave her one. I had a job opportunity in another state, I hate long-distance relationships and so I told her that we need to either get married or break-up. We had been together for a year before we had this discussion, so she conceded. But she was miserable where we were and that took a toll on the relationship. When she got a great job elsewhere, she took it and I refused to leave mine. It might sound crazy but we still date and I get that she may meet someone else someday. I just know that I'm not a good enough compromiser for marriage. Not right now, anyway."
"You and I have discussed before how there is a Scripture in the Bible that says if you get divorced, you should either remain unmarried or go back to your spouse and that it should be that way until they die. Crazy how many people ignore that, right? My problem is, when I divorced my husband, I was so afraid of being alone that I went right back. The second time didn't work either because we've both got some growing, separately, that we need to do."
(The Scripture is I Corinthians 7:10-11, by the way.)
"I loved my wife. I've never liked her very much. We share a lot of history. We have similar values. We have kids together. But as you get older, you realize how important it is to marry someone you really like spending time around. Someone who makes you laugh a lot. Someone who really is your closest friend. I never felt that way in my marriage and it felt like a slow death because of it. And the longer I stayed, the less I liked. We both deserved better. Now, we both have it. She's happily married to someone else. I'm in a serious relationship. Believe it or not, we're better friends now than we ever were. We don't hang out all of the time, but we're really cool. There's peace."
"I cheated. I'm not gonna justify it either. I married a guy who was really good to me. He just wasn't my person. Even now, I'm still in love with the guy I cheated on my husband with. Problem is, he's in a relationship. It's a mess. Marriage can be messy sometimes. If your heart is elsewhere, you'd betta wait."
"I don't know about that whole 'opposites attract' thing. Sometimes you can be too opposite. I'm a neat freak. She's absolutely not. I'm frugal. She likes to spend as much money as possible. She likes to go out a lot. I prefer staying at home."
"Please don't get married assuming that something is going to go the way you want it to. My husband and I didn't know that we had fertility issues until after trying for three years to get pregnant. The money for IVF treatments, the constant scheduling of sex, the resenting each other for not being able to conceive — it all took its toll and started to consume us. Some things you don't know about until you're in them. If you are going into a marriage expecting guarantees about your expectations, stay single. Marriage is not for you."
Getty ImagesGetty Images
"My wife didn't like being married. Some people can date just fine. Marriage is a different kind of accountability and she's a free bird. Anything that requires her having to answer to someone else drives her crazy. I think she thought she loved me enough to look past it but one day, I woke up to a note that she wanted out. We dated for five years. She wanted a divorce after one year. It hurts and I don't think we can be friends, but you can't hold a free spirit down. Just let them go."
"You always hear that marriage ain't the movies. It ain't. In some ways, it's better but you've gotta be willing to show up every day and not be selfish."
"I'm enjoying being single more because I get that I need to pour into me first. If I ever get married again, I'll be more ready because of this time that I've got now. Hell. I'm in no rush, though."
"I'm a 'serial monogamist'. I used to be told that in college, but I didn't take it seriously until I started the divorce process. While I enjoy being in an exclusive relationship and other women aren't an issue for me, the demands and pressure that a lot of women put on men in marriage is suffocating. My former wife and I had a great time while we were dating. After marriage, it's like she became an entirely different person. You know what they say — pressure busts pipes. I'd just rather date knowing that I don't have to pay someone thousands of dollars if we don't work out. Marriage is a business. The stress of that reality is…a lot."
"What a lot of people won't tell you is how much you can change while sharing a life with someone else who is also changing. The first five years with my ex were great. But his new job changed him, my spiritual transformations changed me and soon, we were strangers. Marriage is about two people figuring out how to love new versions of each other. If you're not flexible in this way, don't get married. This is a reality that is totally unavoidable."
There you have it. 7 men and 7 women giving us a glimpse into what brought their marriage to an end. Again, I hope all of this causes singles to take a sober-minded approach to this kind of relationship and married people to figure out things that they can do to hopefully divorce-proof their union or work through the tough times if divorce is currently on the table. Because while marriage is a serious decision, divorce is too. That's why, whatever can be done to lower the divorce rate, I'm totally committed to investing in. I hope you are too.
Featured image by Getty Images
Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Sundays. On the positive side, I love Sundays because it's normally my day to unapologetically indulge in an endless amount of mimosas and delicious bites while catching up with my girls at the latest day party. But after the mimosas are gone, the food has been digested, and the music stops, I'm back at home, looking at my upcoming reality - Monday.
Despite how much fun Sundays can be, once night hits and the fun is over, I tend to get a case of what I like to call the "Sunday Scaries." If you're unfamiliar with the phrase, the Sunday Scaries are the anxiety that sets in on Sunday nights with the impending return to the office, school, or work.
For many people, Sunday Scaries can disrupt you, impact your productivity and mood, and can cause chaos for the week ahead if you let it get the best of you. It doesn't matter what level you are in your career, or how high up the corporate ladder you are, the Sunday Scaries is a real thing and it's something that many of us experience. Recently, I was able to connect with a few successful women of color and they shared what their Sunday Scaries are and how they overcome them.
Kristina Williams, Founder & CEO of ZiM
Courtesy of Kristina Williams
"At times I get overwhelmed when I think about all of the tasks I need to complete at once. I've had to learn to compartmentalize and to strategically plan my days in blocks.
"I have a tendency to get lost in my work so I've recently adopted the practice of planning for fun throughout my week as well. I aim to have at least one fun outing per week that allows my brain to decompress, build relationships and even gain inspiration from seemingly unrelated experiences. My tip for you would be to remember to design for joy, whether it's the colors you choose for your Post-Its, sharing a non-work-related hello to a team member, or planning your schedule with inserts of breathing time. Use your Sunday to remember you are in control of all of it, as much as it may seem overwhelming. Most importantly, remember to give yourself grace."
Yene Damtew, Salon Owner & Hair Educator
Courtesy of Yene Damtew
"Typically, my Monday errands make me nervous every Sunday. Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear a lot of hats and the only way to do that is to have structure. I am the queen of what I like to call 'TDL's' which stands for 'To-Do Lists', and I am old school in the fact that I prefer writing it down on paper rather than digitally as I get satisfaction on crossing the task out. I am a woman who likes to have a game plan and stay organized. I write everything down including my personal activities like workouts and self-care routines. It really helps calm my nerves.
"As a salon owner, traveling hairstylist, and educator, Mondays can include social media planning, stocking inventory at the salon, folding salon towels, laundry or repacking a suitcase for an upcoming trip. As long as I have it written down, almost anything seems possible to achieve."
Aria Bell, PR Consultant at AT&T
Courtesy of Aria Bell
"Honestly, I start getting the 'Sunday Scaries' on Saturdays.
"Normally, what makes me anxious is thinking about my outfits for the week, my upcoming workload, and what I'll be eating (I try to be frugal with spending). I've found that picking outfits for the week on Sundays, or at least the night before, helps make my mornings run smoother. It also allows me the option to even stay in the bed an extra 15-20 minutes which is an absolute plus for me.
"As far as my heavy workload, I write out the most important tasks and/or goals I need to accomplish in order from most important to least. This helps me keep things aligned and prioritized throughout the week. Lastly, if there was ever a task that can save you time during the week, it would be meal prepping! Preparing and cooking my meals and snacks for the week effectively eliminates bad spending and eating habits. This task might seem intimidating, but you'll thank yourself during the week and keep some money in your pockets."
Kendra James-Anderson, Virtual CFO
Courtesy of Kendra James-Anderson
"My Sunday Scaries consists of thinking about my growing team and my growing client list. I tackle these Sunday Scaries in two main ways:
(1) I set no more than 1-2 high priority goals for the week.
(2) I dedicate Mondays exclusively to Team Meetings.
"I think about my business's overall monthly and quarterly objectives and create weekly goals based on that. Oftentimes, we include so many to-dos that don't even tie to our main objectives... so I use Sunday to get focused and outline those objectives. And then on Monday, I dedicate my time to holding team meetings. In the team meetings, I disperse those objectives to ensure that we are all on the same page. The Monday meetings really help set the tone for the week, and because I know what our company focus is for the week, I can properly lead my team.
"Sunday doesn't have to be scary if you utilize that time to find your focus for the upcoming week. My advice? Trash the 5-page to-do list and narrow your focus on the key objectives. It really helps your work feel more intentional and efficient and less erratic!"
Ashley Edwards, Founder & CEO of MindRight Health
Courtesy of Ashley Edwards
"My 'Sunday Scaries' are usually finance-related. As a small startup, I want to make sure everyone on our team consistently has all the resources they need to thrive. When I feel overwhelmed, I make a list of major stressors I may have in the week ahead - investor meetings, product deadlines, etc. - and then I make a list of all the things I can actually control. It's easy to feel stressed by all the things out of your control as you run a startup, so for me, it's important to remind myself of what I do have the power to change. I feel good as long as I know that each day I've done the best I could with what I have."
What are some things that give you the Sunday Scaries, and how are you overcoming them? Drop us a note and let us know!
Featured image courtesy of Kendra James-Anderson
Originally published February 10, 2020
Solange's Saint Heron creative platform is giving back to the community through literature. Saint Heron's Instagram page announced the launch of a free community library that will highlight rare literature from Black writers.
"This free community Library is dedicated to creating access for communities to experience texts from authors, poets, playwrights and artists that engage radical conceptual imaginings. Together Saint Heron and Rosa Duffy have curated a digital and physical Library that will be home to over 50 titles, including a signed 1st edition of In Our Terribleness by Leroi Jones, Maren Hassinger, 1972-1991, a signed The Meeting Point by Austin Clarke, Martin Pureyear: Public and Personal and more," read the caption.
Rosa, who is the founder of Atlanta's For Keeps Books bookstore, is the guest curator for the library, which includes over 50 digital and physical pieces of literature. Saint Heron also partnered with skincare brand Aesop.
How it works is that those who are interested will have to fill out an online registration form and choose one book to reserve (You can only check out one book per guest). The book will be shipped out for free and will include a return label, that way the borrower won't have to pay anything out of pocket. The borrower has 45 days after the check-out date to return the book back to the library. This is based on an honor system and its first come, first serve.
In a statement, Solange said: "The Saint Heron Library continues the work we have been building by preserving collections of creators with the urgency they deserve. Together we seek to create an archive of stories and works we deem valuable. These works expand imaginations, and it is vital to us to make them accessible to students, and our communities for research and engagement, so that the works are integrated into our collective story and belong and grow with us. I look forward to the Saint Heron library continuously growing and evolving and over the next decade becoming a sacred space for literature and expressions for years to come."
This is the first season of the free community library and it will run from October 18 to the end of November. Check out the library here.
Featured image by Jason Mendez/Getty Images for The Town Hall
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
When it comes to sexuality, there have always been societal limitations centered on what is "acceptable." However, with more honest conversations about how fluid sexuality and sexual expression can be, now there are so many more opportunities for self-exploration and taking back ownership of our identities again. One couple that is living their truth and being sexual beings unapologetically while living and loving their lives are Jasmine Johnson and King Noire.
For some background, this husband and wife have been in a relationship for 10 years. Jasmine Johnson, aka Jet Setting Jasmine, is a psychotherapist and a Master Fetish Trainer, along with her husband, King Noire. Jasmine has over 20 years of experience in the industry. King Noire is an accomplished writer, artist, MC and global activist. As a couple in love and in business, Jasmine and King are owners of their award-winning adult entertainment company, Royal Fetish Films. Through their work, Jasmine and King have combined their talents and passions to produce erotica that stimulates audiences to explore their sexual boundaries.
In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, Jasmine and King shares how their love continues to grow through intentionality, selflessness, and finding strength in baring it all.
Jasmine Johnson: King and I met on a radio show. I was interviewing him on a podcast and the focus was porn and relationships. It was mainly about how people in the porn industry find relationships. We connected outside of the podcast and, when we did, we shared our personal bios to each other. We let each other know, 'This is what I've been through, this is where I'm at, and this is where I'm trying to go.'
King Noire: Yes, so we met on the podcast and I was very interested in getting to know Jasmine more. Jasmine was super straightforward and direct with her questions. I liked that. So I slid into her DMs and asked if we could work on our 'talents' together. At the time, Jasmine was teaching pole dancing and I was doing erotic touch massages. We both were very intentional about getting involved with each other.
King: After connecting outside of the podcast, Jasmine booked a session with me [for an erotic touch massage]. For me, that let me know that she respects what I do. When I saw her in person, I thought she looked better than her pictures. The first thing I noticed is that she has a very vibrant, illuminating smile. Jasmine's smile makes me want to smile.
Jasmine: Wow. How am I supposed to follow that? Before I met King in person, what attracted me to him was that he is a multi-dimensional man. The way that he is very in tune with who he is. I liked how he was not trying to shut off any of those dimensions. At the time, I was learning about all the dimensions of myself. So I thought, 'Well, here is a man who is educated, cares about his people, and likes to have a good time.' I also liked that he had a business pleasing women. I enjoyed my time with him, the conversation that we had, and the experience overall. He did not disappoint at all.
Courtesy of King Noire and Jasmine Johnson
Jasmine: There wasn't exactly a clear moment for me. Our relationship grew gradually and the shift had a nice slow incline. We talked about each step along the way, so it was very thoughtful. For example, one of us would say, "I'm thinking about you all day long and I wish you were here with me." Instead of saying, "I wish you here with me and I want you all to myself."
King: It has been gradually growing and I think that is the best way to put it. We continue to grow together and how we express our interests and admiration in each other.
King: The biggest myth about polyamorous relationships is that people think it is always sexual. It is so much more than that. My expression for love is just different and it is not solely about having sex with people. When it comes to Jasmine, how we connect and share with one another makes us stronger. So being honest about how we may like to do certain things differently or we have separate interests is important. With polyamory, it's recognizing that you can't be everything to anybody.
For example, Jasmine wants to go to a certain event and the event is not really my thing. If I'm there, I am not going to have as much fun as she will have. To me, I would be taking away from her enjoying it if I told her that I didn't want her going with someone else. When you truly love a person, you want them to experience all of the things that they enjoy. So I want her to enjoy herself, do her thing, and tell me how it went when she comes back home.
Jasmine: I completely agree with King about the sex part. I know a question I get asked a lot is, "Oh, do you get jealous when your husband sleeps with other people?" Truly, when I think about King and I's relationship, it is about the quality time we spend with each other. Also, when people think about polyamory, people assume that both of the individuals have to be polyamorous. There can be mixed styles of orientation in one relationship.
We both tried different relationship styles and chose what worked for us. I was oriented towards monogamy when I met King. Now I am not saying I just threw in my monogamy card, because I didn't. I just became more open to the possibility and explored what other ways of being together would look like. For years, we have been able to have a sustainable and beautiful relationship in love.
Jasmine: King was really certain about who he was and his relationship style. For me, the fear was if I reject this, then I miss the opportunity to experience life with this man. I also had a fear of "failing" at being good at being poly or exploring what our relationship could look like. I questioned if it would possibly jeopardize the bond we had. Both of these fears, either way, the outcome was not going to be him and I. So I leaned into those fears and I'm glad we figured it out.
King: I didn't have any fears from her specifically, but in general. I only had one experience before Jasmine where I felt I was able to fully be polyamorous. But it still felt limiting because I was still learning myself. I think the fear was as we got down the road, is she (Jasmine) going to change up on me? That fear of her not trusting me. This happens whether you are in a monogamous relationship or a polyamorous relationship. People were trying to tell me what my love was for my partner and I felt boxed in. But Jasmine was that person I wanted to dive into, get to know, and share all of myself with her. At the same time, I don't want to compromise who I am because of a relationship. I want to enhance myself because of the relationship.
King: I don't know how cliche this will sound, but Jasmine really helped me express and find myself. With Jasmine, she is very confident in who she is and how she defines herself. She confirms that I also have the space to do that for myself. Those fears that I just spoke about were fears from past relationships and she made me realize that that is not a part of who she is. People say everyone comes with baggage and that shit is real. You realize you have to check your luggage somewhere else, because this is a new trip right here.
Jasmine: To love yourself is to take a hard look at a lot of aspects of yourself. You have to love the parts of yourself that you are not quite finished with yet. So much of King and I's relationship is helping others, but more importantly helping ourselves. A lot of the trauma work [I've done], King has been front and center.
Really doing that healing and processing it all, we really did it together and figured out how to make it pretty for y'all. How to express our sexuality to the world was really digging into the why's and meanings of who we are individually. From being in a relationship with King, I have also learned how to love myself differently. I don't have to do everything by myself anymore. When you have a partner to really appreciate the moments when life slows down, it's beautiful.
Courtesy of King Noire and Jasmine Johnson
Jasmine: We have a blended family. We started co-parenting two to three years into our relationship. I think there is a huge stigma around blended families, where people think that when you have a blended family, it is going to be lacking something. I used to think this and it honestly took a while for me to believe that King could father all of my children. It wasn't necessarily about him expressing himself as a man and a father. It was really these preconceived notions and judgements of, 'No one is going to love your kids like you.'
The idea that someone in a blended family is not going to love your kids as much as if they were the biological parent is the furthest thing from the truth. My children have a full and complete family. Black families work hard and we continue to work while also through the expression of love. Black love does not have to look like that traditional Eurocentric idea. Black love can look like whatever it needs to look like for people as long as values are respected and aligned.
King: Building off of that, when you think about it, African-American family units don't just make lemonade out of lemons. We make everything with lemons]! History has shown us that the Black family has been broken up since we got here. People try to create this negative narrative around the Black family to make us feel bad. But I look at how we have created our definition of what family looks like, blood or not. We have always said it takes a village to raise a child. Family is more about who you love, how you love, and the responsibility of how you show up for your loved ones.
King: I think just finding more ways to love each other. What I mean by that is, how can I show you that I love you more within moments that we share? Within the Black love story, I believe we are afraid to expose the bareness of our souls. The more you expose yourself to somebody, we call it vulnerability. But I think of it as more of a strength. When you have a partner, if there is an area that you lack, your partner always has your back. They fill that space for you. So when we are able to show the totality of who we are, we are also able to fill in each other's blank spaces.
Jasmine: King has this motto for his music, which is, "Freedom, Justice, and Equality." I feel these three principles really cover every aspect of our lives. They make a really easy formula for our love. There is freedom in our love and I am not talking about sex and relationships. Freedom to respect our interests and support each other through them. The second one is Justice. There's a lot of accountability in our love. No one just gets away with anything around here. In terms of Equality, I have been able to see it as we come as equals to the table. We may not agree on everything, but we show up as humans and no one is inferior to the other.
If one wins, we all win.
Featured image courtesy of Jasmine Johnson and King Noire
In this exclusive, the actress dishes on executive producing the reboot, and balancing business and motherhood.