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Dark & Lovely’s Latest It Girl LeToya Luckett Talks Finding the Beauty in Highs & Lows Of Life

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When you think of LeToya Luckett's career journey, don't call it a comeback. Her glow up has continued well past her years as part of the original roster of Destiny's Child.


She reached the Billboard 200 with her solo debut back in 2006, and went platinum that same year. Her second solo album also made waves in 2009, and she went on to grab TV and film success, appearing on Starz's Rosewood, OWN's Greenleaf, HBO's Treme, and Starz's Single Ladies. (Who didn't love the savvy and shrewd Felicia Price, a music industry exec who held no punches, wore the sexiest suits, and had the one fly white chick on the show jumping through hoops?)

"If I find myself in a new position or situation outside of my comfort zone, I say 'Cool, God has me here for a reason.' So whatever it is, He's preparing me for something bigger and better," Luckett told xoNecole in an exclusive interview.

eOne Music

Luckett's now touring with the stage play version of cult classic, Set It Off, and she's become the new face of Dark & Lovely, a spot that's perfect for someone whose style transitions have been just as beautifully intriguing as those in her professional life---from songstress, to TV host, to actress and back again with styles that have inspired YouTube tutorials and hair magazine covers.

Dark & Lovely

"I feel that now, there's this cookie-cutter trend going on where it's like everybody with the same hairstyle---the same this, the same that. I want to continue to let women know that it's OK to be you. The things I love about the legends and icons---the Lena Hornes, the Dorothy Dandridges, the Diana Rosses---they were free to be themselves. I want to bring that back. Dark & Lovely has been around for generations. My grandfather uses the products and still does in his beauty salon and he's 80-plus years old. Women would come in dying their hair different colors and they were OK with it. They weren't so worried about what people had to say about them. I want to get back to that. Rock out however you want to."

"I want to get back to that. Rock out however you want to."

She is definitely walking the talk, having cut the long tresses--- so popular among today's successful film and reality TV stars--- for a short sassy 'do that helps to redefine what's beautiful among young black women already challenging the stereotypical standard.

Set It Off

Luckett redefines several other aspects of black womanhood in the roles she takes as well, and her latest is quite a twist from the sweet Southern belle we've seen in interviews and on Instagram.

"I think [being in Set It Off, the play] stretches me a bit. Vivica [Fox] did an amazing job playing Frankie, so much so that I would've tried to play Vivica instead of trying to be Frankie. I felt that if I want to do the character justice, I needed to go back in and think about it and get to know Frankie again. That's what I did. I have so much fun playing her, to know where she's coming from, to make the decision [she made]."

An everyday bank-teller-turned-bank-robber might be far from what people might relate to Luckett but this is one survivor who has taken professional and personal blows to the chin with grace and a smile.

Love & Happiness

In another experience that tested her fortitude and confidence, Luckett was fortunate enough to find love and remarry after a very public divorce from a mate who was a celebrity in his own right. (Her ex-husband, Rob Hill Sr., was once known as "The Heart Healer," and would often promote relationship and dating advice to a following of more than 400,000 on Instagram alone.) With her now-husband, Tommicus Walker, who she did not meet until months after dating over the phone, she decided to change the game again, choosing to let go of the pain of the past and release control to the only thing she knew more powerful than her own sheer determination and strength.

Instagram

Related: LeToya Luckett Is Married & The Story of How They Met Is A Fairytale

"Faith played a huge role. It's the only way i was able to get through my divorce. I said, 'God I give this up to you and I'll be OK if hey, I leave this Earth and never marry again. God has done so many other great things for me in my life that I can't complain. God decided to give me a husband again, and I'm so grateful for what God has done for me."

"God decided to give me a husband again, and I'm so grateful for what God has done for me."

What's Next

For Luckett, the swaying of public opinion and the pressure of adhering to an Instagram-worthy facade of perfection are no match for authenticity.

"I remember as a kid, before I signed any record deals, before I did anything, music brought me so much joy. Singing brought me so much joy. I wasn't doing it for money or attention. I was doing it because it brought me joy, and I had a passion for it. You can't lose that in the politics of it all. It's easy to allow that stuff to taint your experience. You gotta remember the real reason you're doing it all. Find the joy in that. Don't make it so easy for people to easily steal your joy---especially with social media and people having opinions of you."

"You gotta remember the real reason you're doing it all. Find the joy in that."

From exiting DC---a pivotal part of her adolescence and teenage life--- to rebounding after heartache, to continuing to inspire all women to embrace their own unique Black girl magic, Luckett proves that the highs and lows of her life as vital parts of the journey.

"Sometimes we can be so afraid of change that it cripples us from getting where we need to be. I find the beauty in change and transition. For me, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be."

For more LeToya, be sure to follow her on Instagram.

Last year, Meagan Good experienced two major transformations in her life. She returned to the small screen starring in the Amazon Prime series Harlem, which has been renewed for a second season and she announced her divorce from her longtime partner DeVon Franklin.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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