For YouTube star Shameless Maya, each day starts off just like any other nine-to-fiver. Born Maya Washington, the Toronto-native/LA-transplant wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to read the Bible, squeezes in a session with her personal trainer, then beats her face for the gods before heading off to work.
By 10 a.m., the spirited social media personality is swimming in a pile of emails, pre-production planning, and video shoots. "Before we shoot anything, we gotta come up with ideas and storyboard, then we send it to get approved [by brands]. We go buy what we need, take photos, flat lay it, then send it for approval. There's a bunch of back and forth about the final edit. They want me to cut this out, they wanna cut that out. I would say, it's maybe two or three rounds of edits."
It's all in a day's work for this 34-year-old creative producer.
"I thought it was cheesy, tacky, and shameless," she says of her YouTube beginnings. "I went into it as a social media experiment on what would happen if I was shameless of a year and see where it would take me." And it truly paid off.
Since starting her channel in 2012, Washington's ability to be transparent with her followers about personal topics, such as her divorce and why she ultimately decided to shave her head, has helped her snag a following of millions of subscribers across her social media platforms. Her brightly colored beauty tutorials, inspirational online diary entries, and informative tech reviews keep her rolling in dough. Most recently, she has collaborated with brands such as Target, CoverGirl, and Google Store. In 2014, she landed an opportunity of a lifetime as art director for Prince's Art Official Age album. While she doesn't disclose the amount she was paid by The Purple One, in a video, she says, "I hadn't ever seen money like that at this point in my life."
Don't Knock the Hustle
It's evident that being a YouTube star can lead to a pretty comfortable lifestyle. However, there's a common misconception that living life in front of the camera is all play and no work. Flip on a camera, turn on your charm and get paid, right? Well, not so much. Along with extensive planning, especially for branded content, Washington sometimes has to fight for creative control. "I had one brand tell me to stop saying 'homegirl' and 'boo.' I was so frustrated, like, no, you can't tell me what I can and can't say. That's how I talk to my viewers. I had to learn to stand up for myself because it's my voice."
While dealing with brands and cashing checks can be tough, the hardest career challenge for Washington is learning to lead. There's a learning curve in evolving from independent worker to operating a full-fledged brand. "I don't like telling people what to do," she admits. "I've never had a manager position in life. Like, I've never been a supervisor or anything of that. I've always been kind of like a worker bee. I'd work for companies as a production assistant or an intern, so to go from those types of positions to working by myself was challenging. I have to study and read books on how to be a leader."
To balance out her weaknesses, this HBIC is building a strong team and learning how to delegate day-to-day tasks. While positive energy is the number one requirement for people on her Shameless squad, there are a few other major keys to success in Maya's World. "Are you hustler and do you work hard? There's so much to be done when you start off small. I do everything, so I'm looking for someone who is down to do everything and then some. I have issues with organization and staying on top of my calendar, so I needed someone who is exceptionally detail-oriented, which I found. I like thinking outside of the box, too, so if you have other passions, it's a plus."
Before the YouTube Fame
Though Washington seems to have it all––the money, the career, and, the squad––for a long time, her relationship status still read single.
At the age of 22, she met the man who would become her husband and they married when she was 26. Unfortunately, their marriage succumbed to their differences in life goals and five years later, the curly girl finally got a divorce. While recovering from her heartbreak, she threw all her energy into her work. It was not only a much-needed distraction from her rocky romantic life, but also a time to for her to heal as a woman.
"A lot of people when they leave relationships, they rebound," she says. "You go on dates and try to distract yourself. And that's part of it. But once you get all of that outta your system, you have to look inward and figure out how to be the best person you can be. You can distract yourself, but know that if you do that, you're gonna run into issues. I was so angry and always coming into confrontations. I literally had to reprogram everything about me. I'm genuinely happy with the woman I've become and now I can say I'm ready to date."
Braving the world of Tinder swipes and first dates seems pretty daunting, but Washington is equipped with the biggest lesson she's learned from her failed marriage. "When I got married, I was making decisions based on feelings, but as an adult, I have to do a checklist before I allow myself to get carried away. Do you have a good family background? Are you a positive, happy person? Do you believe in God? I have to check all those things off. Because once you let your feelings go, it's game over. Before you let your heart get carried away, take your brain with you."
No matter what's ahead, Washington is passionate about inspiring and spreading her youthful joy. And who can even be mad at that? Be shameless and do you, boo!
Find out more about Shameless Maya by following her on YouTube!
Originally published in 2016
Images courtesy of Maya Washington
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash