Never mind her sudden success in Hollywood or the millions of eyes already tuned into her moves, Karrueche Tran is not blinded by fame. The moment the Claws actress settles into her call with xoNecole, it's clear she is set on making an impact that runs deeper than a trending moment.
Whether it's through her hit TNT series or her latest film Never Heard (released November 1), where she steps into unchartered territory as a church girl named Paris, the Los Angeles native is enamored by opportunities that allow women to see and be their authentic selves.
Determined to illuminate the humanity within each role she steps into, no matter how different they appear on the surface, the two-time Emmy winner is most excited for fans to witness pieces of themselves manifest on screen as they dive into the lives of her characters.
Her mission isn't one-dimensional, either. The model made a refreshing statement on celebrating natural beauty in the face of unattainable standards with her latest ColourPop collection, Brown Sugar. "Girls need to be reminded that you can come as you are," she champions. "You don't have to change. Embrace everything that comes with you: your journey, your story, your scars."
In this xoChat, Karrueche details building her name as a creative, tapping into the power of faith, avoiding the pitfalls of social media, and rediscovering love after heartbreak.
xoNecole: What drew you to your latest movie, 'Never Heard'?
Karrueche Tran: As a new actress, I'm still exploring roles and trying to expand my creativity and my artistry. Paris is a character that I've never played before, so I was interested in digging deep into who she is. And also, I love the story and the message of the movie itself. It's a movie about faith and redemption and the power of prayer. As creatives, as people who influence and have platforms, I think it's important for us to continue to portray these stories for the world to see and stories people can easily relate to. I think that's the great thing about this movie.
As far as your personal life goes, how much did you resonate with the heart of the movie?
I've always had a relationship with God. I'm not extremely religious, but I did grow up Christian. I had a very hard time in my life in which there was just a lot going on, and I connected myself more with God and built that relationship because, at that time, He was the only person that I had to rely on. I wasn't even relying on myself. I didn't even have any self-worth or love at the time. He restored my faith, and I left it all in His hands to help me and push me through my struggles, and thankfully, He was there for me. Even to this day, every night when I pray, I tell Him how thankful and blessed I am to have Him by my side throughout the journey of my life – the ups and the downs and the confusion and the mistakes and the great things that are happening.
"I didn't even have any self-worth or love at the time. He restored my faith, and I left it all in His hands to help me and push me through my struggles."
You’ve been cementing your name as an actress on the hit TNT series ‘Claws’ and from what we’ve seen, your character Paris is worlds apart from Virginia. What work goes into tapping into the lives of characters that are so different from each other?
One thing that I love is character building. For Virginia, she was a stripper, so I spent a lot of time in the strip club doing research, literally watching the girls and how they moved and how they talked to each other and communicated with their customers. For Paris, I didn't have as much time to do research like I did with Virginia, but I kind of built my vision of who I thought she was and where she came from. I personally didn't grow up in the church, but I put my mind there as the young, sweet girl who's kind of the girl next door who lost her mother [and] who has this relationship with her father that's not as strong as she would like it to be. Again, that's another great, relatable story that a lot of girls will be able to connect with, and that's what I love about the character. She's real, and she's genuine.
From Niecy Nash to Robin Givens, you’ve shared sets with a number of veterans in the industry. How has that stretched you as an artist?
I'm blessed to be in their presence and to be able to say that I've worked with all these amazing actors. I've worked with a lot of veterans, and for where I'm at in my career, it's truly a blessing, and I'm so thankful to work so closely to them. It definitely motivates me to be better and to push myself harder and to perfect my craft.
You already have two Emmys to your name, both from the web series ‘The Bay’ where you got your start. Is that something that you imagined you would accomplish as early as you did?
Not at all. Some people grow up wanting to be an actor, knowing that this is their calling, and I had no idea. Honestly, sometimes I forget that I have two Emmys sitting in my house. It's mind blowing. It's crazy, but it sets the tone for me to not get comfortable and to continue to work harder and live up to the standard of being able to say, "I have two Emmys."
Outside of acting, you’ve also established yourself in the world of fashion as a model. When we were introduced to you, though, you were on the styling end of things. Was it always in your plan to end up where you are now?
No. Again, it wasn't something that I ever expected. I'm from LA, and I've always seen myself as a regular girl. I had two jobs. I was a stylist, and I had this opportunity to be featured in a film. It was a very small role with one speaking line, but from there it sparked an interest, and from there I saw the potential. I also realized that it's not easy, and it was going to be a lot of work, but I was willing to study and work my way towards perfecting my craft.
Karrueche ColourPop Brown Sugar Collection
You’ve been working with ColourPop since 2016 and have another joint collection out now. Tell us about your relationship with that brand. What makes it a great fit for you?
Brown Sugar, which is my latest collection, is currently available, so make sure everybody gets that (laughs). I just love that ColourPop gives me so much [freedom] to create things that are genuine to me, so all of my collections have been something that I've actually been hands on with. I pick the colors, the names, the packaging, the story behind the collection. I literally have created everything, and I think that's just so awesome because it's real, and it's something that's a part of me that I can give back to the world. And beauty is such a huge market right now. Years ago, I wasn't as into makeup, but now I have such a love for it, and you can just have so much fun [with it].
Brown Sugar seems to be a lot deeper than makeup. What’s the story behind it?
Whenever I come up with a new collection, I sit and think about what kind of headspace I'm in right now, what's going on in my life, and how I can incorporate personal ties to this collection. As much as I love makeup, I've been in this phase with social media where I feel we get a bit distracted with reality, so I wanted to bring back a sense of individuality and relay that message to girls. You don't necessarily have to look a certain way or wear certain things. Girls need to be reminded that you can come as you are. You don't have to change. Embrace everything that comes with you: your journey, your story, your scars. It doesn't matter where you come from or what you've been through, we can all be beautiful and powerful and great together.
Karrueche ColourPop Brown Sugar
"Girls need to be reminded that you can come as you are. You don't have to change. Embrace everything that comes with you."
I had a diverse group of models for the photoshoot, and I included the stories of each girl. I wanted them to be more than just a face, more than just a figure that had makeup on, more than just a model. I wanted the world to see that we are all very much different, and that's okay. We're all beautiful and talented in our own ways. We all have something to offer and bring to the table, and with today's society and social media, I think that gets a little lost and our perception of what's realistic is not real. There's a lot of beautiful girls with beautiful bodies, and that's cool, but not everybody can attain that. And with the line being called Brown Sugar, it's like a little finishing touch. All you need is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but you don't have to change anything.
You’ve opened up about the pressures that come with being in the spotlight and owning who you are and how you look in spite of that. Are you in a space where you’re fully comfortable in your skin or is that something that you have to be intentional about celebrating?
It's a little bit of both. I'm comfortable, but then I'm not because I'll see a girl who's gorgeous and tall, and I've always wanted to be tall, but I'm 5'1'', and I'm not going to grow much more at the age of 30, you know (laughs)? And sometimes, I'll be like, Damn, I wish I looked like her, and my mind gets so consumed in that, and I have to remind myself that I have great qualities as well. It might not be the longest legs or the biggest butt, but that's okay. It's perfectly fine. I'm human. This is how God created me. I embrace it and try to let it go. That's dangerous if you become so sucked into negativity and judgment and being self-conscious. I think it can really wear and tear somebody down mentally. At one point, I did go through that heavily, and I don't want to go through that again so I reevaluate and remind myself of who I am and what I have to offer.
"I have to remind myself that I have great qualities as well. It might not be the longest legs or the biggest butt, but that's okay. It's perfectly fine. I'm human. This is how God created me."
You haven’t necessarily embraced the term “influencer” that’s often attached to your name. Why have you steered clear of that lane?
It's just weird (laughs). Again, I look at myself as Karrueche from LA – just a regular girl – so when I think about being an influencer, I'm like, What does that mean? It's just a strange term to me, and that's why I think I'm so vocal about pushing for positivity and embracing ourselves and our individuality because if I'm going to be called an influencer, then I'm going to utilize my voice and my platform in the best way possible so I can influence people with substance, not just, I'm cute and I'm pretty. That's cool, but let's have some power and some longevity and just something real behind that. I can go on and on about social media. I have a love/hate relationship with it because I'm able to engage with my fans and have this amazing platform where I can reach out to people, but I want to use it in the best way so that I'm actually influencing people in the right direction.
You’ve rediscovered love within the past year, and it looks great on you. What have you learned in your single seasons that have made it possible for you to open your heart as the public keeps tabs yet again?
I learned a lot about myself. I learned self-love and self-worth and just understanding that essentially I don't need a man or anybody else to make me happy. I spent a lot of time by myself learning what I like and what I don't like, which has helped me realize that if I had to make it on my own, I could. Do I want to? No (laughs). But, if I were to never find a man out there, then I'd be content because I have my family, I have my friends, myself, and my career. Dating different people made me realize what I will and will not tolerate, and I am very lucky that my love life is where it is right now. I'm very comfortable and in a very good space.
You turned 30 this year. If you could have a conversation with Karrueche at 20, what would you tell her about the journey ahead?
I would've told myself to be more focused in whatever interested me at the time. To stay focused and to work harder than I was before. I was too busy running around and going out, so I just wish I would've started something earlier in my life to kind of get a headstart of where I'd be now. But, I'm fully content with where I am now, whether it be the ups or downs or the struggles and mistakes that I've made. As hurtful and as hard as it was, I wouldn't be who I am today if I never went through those things. That's the beauty of life. It's the journey of trials and tribulations and figuring things out and learning from your mistakes or going through them and hoping that you do.
As we draw closer to a new year, what should we expect next from you?
I just wrapped a movie called Embattled. We don't have a date for it yet, but it should be out sometime next year [in 2019]. I start shooting Claws again for Season 3. If anything else, you know how the industry is. Some things come up last minute or along the way, so who knows? But I'm definitely continuing to push myself, to work hard, and perfect my craft.
Featured image courtesy of Karrueche Tran
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.
Not too long ago, I saw a video of a Black woman who was so speaking my language. She was talking about how it’s interesting that we, as women, will basically show supernatural tolerance when it comes to our female friendships, and yet, when it comes to our men, we won’t let them make even one mistake before deciding that we’re ready to cut them off.
Hmph. Let me tell it, a lot of us will self-sabotage our relationships with guys because we’ve got such a long list of things that we won’t put up with, that we’re pretty much looking for them to “mess up” right out the gate. And gee, that’s super unfortunate because you can’t cultivate any kind of real intimacy with someone that way — not to mention the fact that we aren’t perfect either, which means that they have to extend the same kind of patience with us that we need to be willing to extend to them.
And what does this possibly have to do with the focal point of this article: intuitive intimacy? Well, intimacy is defined as being many things; one of them is a close friendship. And so yes, if you want to experience healthy intimacy with the man in your life (or future man in your life), friendship should be at its foundation. Oh, but intuitive intimacy — something that is going to be a huge dating trend in 2024 — is about so much more than that.
If you’re curious, keep reading.
What Is Intimacy? REALLY?
Being truly intimate with someone goes well beyond sex.
Something that irks me, to no end, is that people who engage in casual sex will sometimes interchange that term with “being intimate” (even I’ve fallen into the trap while writing sometimes because pop culture uses it so much). And why does that get on my almost last nerve? Because, as a writer, an “occupational hazard” that comes with that is being pretty word-literal — and since casual means things like “without serious intention” and “careless” and has synonyms like “apathetic,” “erratic,” “detached,” “unconcerned,” and “purposeless”…how in the world does any of that sound even remotely like real intimacy?
Now, to be fair, aside from friendship, another definition of intimacy is sex; however, it goes well beyond that. Being intimate with someone is about friendship and sex while also experiencing affection with them, experiencing a feeling of warmth when you’re in their presence, interacting with them on a very deeply personal level, being loved and understood by them, and seeing them as a safe space and confidant.
Uh-huh, now do you see why intimacy deserves so much more respect than recreational copulation? Damn straight, it does.
In fact, if you really take all of what I just shared into your being, it’s rare to find someone who you can be truly intimate with, in the full sense of the word — and honestly, I think that’s what intuitive intimacy is going to remind a lot of people of in the upcoming months.
Here’s why I say that…
Okay, So What Exactly Is Intuitive Intimacy?
For intuitive intimacy to make sense, let me first break down what it means to be intuitive. When you’re an intuitive person, it means that you have a strong intuition. And no, I don’t mean that arrogant (and sometimes delusional, if I’m being real) stance that some women take when they say, “My intuition is never wrong.” Listen, I have sat in many (MANY) sessions where a woman had so much ego (and sometimes even bitterness) tied up in her intuition that it backfired on her. How?
Because, when certain questions were asked, and various revelations were revealed, what really was going on was she was moving on projection, which is oftentimes a mere counterfeit of intuition. That’s part of the reason why I’ve written articles for the platform before like “So, Experts Have Something To Say About Your Intuition's Accuracy” and “When You Should Trust Your Gut & When You Shouldn't.” So no, please don’t be out here thinking that just because you “feel something,” your intuition is working at its peak level. There is a whole lot more to being genuinely intuitive than that.
- Being intuitive is about being discerning.
- Being intuitive is about being empathetic towards others (many empaths are intuitive).
- Being intuitive is about being highly observant.
- Being intuitive is about being very spiritual.
- Being intuitive is about being super observant and being able to pick up on things very easily.
Adding to that…
- Kids and pets gravitate to intuitive people.
- Vivid dreams (and prophecies) happen to intuitive people.
- Feeling shifts in energy and subtle changes in environments happen to intuitive people.
- Having profound insights on folks you just met happens to intuitive people.
- Seeking out solutions over causing more problems is a solid trait of intuitive people.
I’m sharing all of this so that y’all can see that no, “I feel like something is happening” is not really what it means to have an authentic intuition or to be truly intuitive. It goes far deeper than that.
So, when you combine intuitiveness with intimacy, you get intuitive intimacy — something that a Bumble survey says is going to be huge in 2024. And while a lot of people define it as simply “emotional intimacy,” as you can see from all of the definitions of both words that I just provided, that doesn’t really even begin to scratch the surface. However, if I were to summarize it, I would probably say that intuitive intimacy is all about being mindful — hella mindful — when it comes to yourself, the person you’re with, and the kind of intimacy you wish to experience with them.
- Your friendship with them needs to have a ton of empathy in it.
- You need to be so observant that the affection you give meets their core needs.
- And brace yourselves — the sex you experience with them should have a spiritual component to it.
Yeah, when it comes to that last one, let’s touch on “intuitive sex” for just a second.
Some Say That Intimacy Is More Important than Sex. However…
I thought it was interesting that when I read different articles on the intuitive intimacy trend, something that pretty much all of them said intuitive intimacy was about emotional intimacy being more important than sex. Personally, I don’t agree. Even when you look at how the Bible speaks on sex in I Corinthians 6:16 (Message), it says “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much of a spiritual mystery as it is a physical fact.” It’s a reminder that sex was never supposed to just be a recreational or casual act.
So no, I don’t think that intuitive intimacy means that you should downplay physical pleasure or copulation — I think 2024 is going to remind (more) people that sex was always supposed to hold more merit and, perhaps if folks are more proactive and intentional about being truly intimate and fully intuitive in the bedroom, they can experience sex on a richer and more fulfilling level…and that makes me smile. It’s time. It’s past time.
Keeping all of this in mind, if you are currently in a relationship, ask yourself: are the two of you as intimate as you should (or would like) to be? Are you intuitive? Is he intuitive? Does it reflect in all rooms of your house? If the answer to these questions is “no” or “not as much as I would like,” I’ve got a few quick tips that can help to turn all of that around.
3 Tips for Building Intuitive Intimacy in Your Own Relationship
If you want to experience intuitive intimacy, focus on solidifying friendship.
1. Focus on your friendship.
One of my favorite married couples has been together for well over 40 years, and every time I see them, they are together. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them apart, and I’ve known them since I was a child. I teasingly asked them about it one day and the husband said, “Girl, this is my best friend, my hanging buddy right here. Ain’t nobody I’d rather kick it with.” This is precisely why I don’t get folks who think that your spouse shouldn’t be your friend — hell, your best friend.
"Best" means “the highest quality” and “most suitable and desirable.” Why would you want to build with someone who you don’t see that way? Friendships are about fondness, loyalty, and trust (for starters). If you want intuitive intimacy with your man, focus on solidifying the friendship.
2. Become more spiritual.
A few years back, I penned an article for the platform entitled, “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?” For those who are skimming this, your spirit is the essence of life — your life. And so, when it comes to your relationship, you and your partner should be improving each other’s quality of life in ways that you both can easily rattle off if someone asked you about it.
You both should be becoming morally stronger. You both should be feeding each other’s souls. You both should be “going deeper” into knowledge of self as a direct result of the way you influence one another. And yes, this should be transpiring both inside and outside of the bedroom. Is it?
3. Pay attention to one another’s energy fields.
Albert Einstein once said, “Everything is energy, and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” The shorthand of this is “match energies” — only be intuitive when it comes to the kind of results that you want whenever you do it. Energy is big, y’all. If you want to go to another level in your relationship, be cognizant of your energy and pay attention to his, too.
You need to be fueling each other. You need to be making each other more positive. You both should feel more alive in each other’s space. And when it comes to sex, a man is literally going inside of you — how can you let someone who isn’t worthy of that affect YOUR ENERGY FIELD in that way and on that level?
This is the time when you’re gonna be inundated (if not flat-out overwhelmed) by a lot of trends that will be happening in every type of category and industry that you can think of. Yet, if there’s one that you should take seriously and honestly can feel pretty good about, it’s intuitive intimacy.
If you’re in a relationship, strive for it.
If you desire one in 2024, don’t settle for anything less.
Watch how it benefits you — on a billion different levels.
I can just “feel” it. #wink
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Featured image by PeopleImages/Getty Images