'Love Is Blind''s Raven Ross Speaks Her Truth About Everything That Led To The Split With SK & More
A few months after the announcement of their split in November 2022, Love Is Blind alum Raven Ross is finally speaking her piece about the events that led to her final breakup with Sikiru "SK" Alagbada. In less than a week after Netflix premiered the Love Is Blind: After the Altar episodes that showcased Raven and SK's re-engagement, Raven was a special guest on the podcast The Viall Files. The episode gave her the space to be open and vulnerable about what happened since the Netflix hit show wrapped and also provided a timeline for SK's infidelity that ultimately led to the demise of their second chance at love.
The Viall Files, hosted by another reality dating show alum, Nick Viall of The Bachelor fame, was a lengthy interview where the two connected on finding love on reality TV, being cheated on, and moving forward. In the episode, aptly titled, "Raven Ross Tells All," Raven was able to demystify the image of SK that Love Is Blind portrayed and the man that she fell in love with and breakdown his web of lies, the manipulation she endured throughout the relationship, and what it felt like to live it all so publicly.
Here's what you missed.
If it wasn't heartbreaking enough to relive what must have been a high point of their relationship in the recently dropped After the Altar episodes where (spoiler alert) Raven and SK get engaged for a second time in the series (in an elaborate set-up orchestrated by SK, at that), the viewers/listeners of the episode are introduced to footage of Raven happily summarizing the beauty of her relationship with SK from a previous episode of The Viall Files.
In the clip played for the audience, she can be heard saying that the cornerstones of what makes them work as a couple are "trust" and "communication." "There is so much love there," she said in the clip. "He's literally my best friend."
Watching Raven's face as she listens to herself during happier times was just...rough, for lack of a better word. She kept it together though and said in reference to the clip, "It just really brings me back to like, I really felt like that. And I felt like, you know, we had filmed so long ago, it was nice to kind of like finally talk about our story because like you said it was so different, especially than everyone else's."
She continued, "We had some different circumstances that made our relationship different, culturally, the school thing, having to move. That was all against us and we still made something really, really cool work. And, like, I was just so proud of us and super in love. So to watch that, I'm like dang..."
The conversation between Nick and Raven then immediately segues into when Raven first caught wind of the cheating allegations on social media. Raven noted that it came at different times "with different women but it started with one girl who he actually met in San Francisco." Later, she would confirm that this was the woman SK met on Hinge while in San Francisco. Of note, by this time (unbeknownst to us viewers), Raven and SK were indeed engaged again (since August 2022 apparently).
She added about SK's cheating and seeing the video on TikTok posted by the woman, "When I found out about it, I found out with everyone else, on TikTok."
Raven set the scene, detailing that her first finding about it occurred right before Thanksgiving. SK was at school, and she was in Dallas. Her phone went "crazy" with people hitting her up asking if she had seen what the girl was alleging. Raven said during that time she watched the video she realized some of the messages and pictures the woman shared on her TikTok were the same ones SK also sent her while he was in Austin.
"Copy and paste," she said. "It was literally verbatim. The same selfie. The same words."
(L to R) SK Alagbada and Raven Ross in 'Love Is Blind.'
Raven explained to the hosts that she rationalized the betrayal at the time by viewing it as mostly words (aside from SK's eventual admittance to her that he saw the woman one time but it wasn't a date). She referred to that fact as his "saving grace" in her decision to move past it and stick beside him. “I’m sure this is the time when people are gonna say, ‘Girl you should have known,’ and yeah, I should have known. But everyone goes through this,” Raven told the hosts.
“It’s not like this was a thing in our relationship…I had never really had a feeling. There were little things along the way that I had kind of pushed down, but it’s not like I had girls DMing me all the time, ‘Oh I was with your man.’ And I truly trusted him so much. I mean, by this point when I’m finding this all out we already have an apartment together. Like, we already, like, do everything together. We already were, like, making plans to move to L.A. together."
"So it's, you know, I'm like, he wouldn't be doing all of this if he wasn't into it," she concluded.
The timeframe of when the messages and the Hinge-date-not-date with the woman happened in March 2022, which she reasoned with herself was so far from where they were in their relationship in November. "We were in a far different place by the time it was November," Raven said of their growth, adding that the conversation with SK at that time was, "'I'm gonna ride for you.'"
Raven explained she was good with that mindset until a few days later when the next bomb dropped that Raven described as "more damaging" because SK shared "quite a long past" with the woman. "The second one was far worse," she revealed.
"By the time the second girl came out on TikTok, he was already back home. So we were together at this point, physically at our apartment in Dallas. And again, we were just sitting in our kitchen and both of our phones start going crazy." They watched the video together and Raven recalled to Nick, the host, that that was followed by silence, noting that SK "does that thing where he’s got to ghost for a little bit and get the lies together.”
Raven detailed going into her closet to cry on the floor since it's her safe space where she allows herself to break if she has to. While the second woman dropped her video and then a second one not too soon after, Raven confessed that she felt like her "life was crumbling before her eyes."
Not only was a couple's trip between SK and the girl to Europe was exposed, but a couple's trip to Cabo was also exposed some time later. The latter of which dealt a heavier blow to Raven because it showed her a different reality than the one she was led to believe by SK.
Apparently, the weekend before the Cabo trip, Raven and SK took a trip to her hometown of New Orleans for her birthday trip where they spent time with her mom and family. Raven noted that as a big deal for her and told SK during that time that it was a grand gesture on her part to show him her readiness to do things "right outside of Love Is Blind." In her eyes, the relationship was deepening, but his true actions of going on a couple's trip with another woman a week later showed another story.
“My heart just sank and I made him tell me when….That point was the first time when I started using the words, ‘We’re about to be done. You’re pushing way past my limit because this is a bold-faced lie and you knew we were together at that point. You can't... you can’t argue it.'"
When asked why wasn't she already past her limit at that point, Raven addressed the question head-on and confessed that it was hard for her to separate the truth that was unfolding in real-time via TikToks and SK's admissions, from the man that she fell in love with in the pods, the trust that she had for him and the life that they were actively building together. In her mind, they had a lease to an apartment together, and he had re-proposed to her by this time after all.
She listed things like his intelligence and his kindness toward her and the fact that he was her best friend. "You keep telling yourself, 'Well, that's the person that I'm with,'" she explained before later adding, "I'm not giving myself excuses, but I think a lot of women go through this. People [go through this]."
Raven also went on to say that when everything was unfolding, she also felt "confused." In her eyes, her actions and her intentions aligned with the things she said she saw for them and the fact that she wanted the relationship. She said she was "all in" but sometimes his actions suggested that he wasn't on the same page. In retrospect, she told Nick that the reason she felt confused in those moments was that SK "wasn't really there with me." Raven would also reveal later in the episode that SK eventually told her that she was not his "type."
She continued, "We've talked about it after the fact but he really wasn't putting in 100% and I was."
Listen to "Raven Ross Tells All" in full for even more details below:
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Featured image by Sara Mally/Netflix
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Ciara Says Russell Wilson 'Speaks Life' Into Her Independence In Response To Recent Backlash Over New Song
Singer and entrepreneur Ciara isn't holding anything back regarding the criticism she's received on social media for her single "For Da Girls" and the infamous dress she wore at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
For context, the reason surrounding the "For Da Girls" controversy, a song that praises women’s independence and self-love, stemmed from many feeling that the message Ciara was promoting could be observed as a contradiction because she is happily married with three children.
As for the sheer metallic ensemble that the 37-year-old wore at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in March, Ciara faced backlash because some people felt that her dress was inappropriate --especially for a married woman-- despite the fact she went to the event with her husband Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
That same month, Ciara addressed the adverse social media reaction during an interview with Essence magazine while attending SXSW in Austin, Texas. In the discussion, the "Goodies" vocalist opened up about her initial intentions for her latest single and how her husband motivates her to be herself.
Ciara on "For Da Girls" Backlash
Ciara revealed that "For Da Girls" is about empowering women, commemorating their independence and ability to tackle anything.
"It's really about female empowerment. It is about celebrating our independence as women and that inner strength that we have and how we're so capable," she said.
When the subject shifted to the track's online scrutiny, the songstress shared that she didn't harbor any bad feelings toward it because she knew the right people would enjoy the song.
"I think those that may not be so confident may feel a certain kind of way, but those that are confident in themselves, especially [regardless of] a male's perspective, know what that is," she stated.
"And they love what that is, and they celebrate what that is, and they support what that is. They uplift what that is in us. So that's like a good bit of my inspiration and where I'm coming from with this record."
Ciara On How Russell Wilson Embraces Her Independence
Later, Ciara disclosed how the negative attention had impacted her marriage. The "Ride" singer expressed that because Russell knew who she was beforehand and "respected" her independence, he continued to speak life into it when they decided to get together.
"The thing that I love about my husband is that he speaks life into my independence. Before I came into his life, he knew who I was. And he's always respected that from day one," she explained.
As the conversation went on, the mom of three shared that she considers being an independent woman a wonderful thing as it attributes to many things such as knowing your worth.
"I think there's something really beautiful about the woman that knows who she is and is confident in who she is. She's fearless. She goes after what she wants," she said. "Even if you're a stay-at-home mom, there's still an independence that you have to make the house go round to make things happen. Or the girl that's out there grinding, trying to get it. I've been that girl since I was a little girl. I mean, I had to do a lot on my own. Whether it was from the vision of the songs I would write, starting with 'Goodies,' or whether it was from running my own label – that's who I am."
Regardless of what anyone thinks, Ciara continues to inspire her millions of followers by unapologetically being herself.
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Feature image by Monica Schipper/Getty Images