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Meet The xoNecole Tribe: Kandice Guice, Writer

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In Meet the xoNecole Tribe, readers are introduced to the members of the xoNecole team that keep the site up and running with their textured and varied stories and voices. In the monthly series, you get a more in-depth look of the person behind the pen, social media, the lens, or whatever they might contribute to the brand.

For our inaugural feature in the series, we are highlighting a writer that first made a splash on the site with her candid retelling of how choosing to take a risk and dating for potential in love ultimately led to the love of her life in her husband (Y'all can read that here). And as instantly as we were captivated, so were our readers.

Without further adieu, meet Kandice Guice, the self-proclaimed attorney by day, writer by passion who writes all things love, relationships, wellness, and everything in between.

Writer Kandice Guice

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Where are you from?

I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Monroe, Louisiana.

What did you go to school for? And what was your major?

I obtained my undergrad degree in Mass Communication from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. I later went on to receive my Master of Public Administration from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy at Southern University and my law degree from Southern University Law Center.

When did your love affair with writing begin?

Since I can remember, I've had an intimate love affair with writing. I'd write poems, stories, and journal entries to cope with familial transitions and issues I faced at school. By fifth grade, I was writing content and pitching it to my teacher. I'd ask him to review my writing, then ask if I could read or act it out in class. The kids loved it! And my teacher started gently nudging me toward considering writing as my career path rather than my original idea of being a veterinarian. High school came and writing was it for me. Classmates would ask me to pass them my stories to read when class was too boring for them. I was getting published in the local newspaper, winning writing contests, and even getting scholarships based on my pieces.

"Since I can remember, I've had an intimate love affair with writing."

How and when did you start working with xoNecole.com?

I told a friend I was starting a blog. After hearing my vision, she thought it aligned well with xoNecole.com and encouraged me to check it out. I was so in love with the theme that I started dreaming of working with the brand. A few months passed, and I sent my first pitch but didn't hear back. After that, I made it a point to study the style of the pieces and keep up with the writers. I also reached out to other freelance writers to get their feedback on how I could sharpen my approach. I finally got the courage to pitch another idea. Our Managing Editor, Sheriden, loved it and invited me to become a contributing writer.

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How do you practice self-care?

Playing dress up is my favorite form of self-care. I strongly believe that when you look good, you feel good. On days when I'm stressed or frustrated, I cut on some 90s R&B while I do my makeup and pick out cute outfits. Taking the time to get glam shifts my mood and makes me feel empowered to handle whatever comes my way.

"Taking the time to get glam shifts my mood and makes me feel empowered to handle whatever comes my way."

Are you single?

I'm blessed to be married to Bakari Guice. We've been on this marriage journey for a year and a half, and it has been the most rewarding experience I could've asked for. The ability to see our individual and collective growth is remarkable. Plus, it doesn't hurt to wake up to the coolest friend you know every day.

What are your interests? Do you have any hobbies?

I'm involved in so many things that I barely have time to even think about hobbies. But if I had to list a few, they would include travel, reading, online shopping, and spending time with family. Right now, I am experiencing a mental growth spurt and it's sparked my interests in self-development. I like to feed that appetite by reading non-fiction and having engaging conversations that stretch my thought process and viewpoint.

What is your favorite book of all-time? What's the last book you read?

It's tough for me to narrow down the full gamut of books I've enjoyed into a favorite of all time, but anything written by Toni Morrison is a fave. Although fictional, they include themes that make me more self-aware. The last book I read was The Four Agreements. I can't say enough how everyone should read it. It's been life changing for my perspective about how I view myself and others.

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What's your endgame? Why do you do what you do?

I couldn't tell you my endgame. I don't think anyone who intends to be habitually successful really can. So much of climbing is based on reinventing yourself, staying sharp, and remaining flexible that it's impossible to just name one thing and stick to it. For me, the sky is the limit. If I had to answer what's up next for me, I would definitely say getting to a space where I can expand my role at xoNecole, delving into video/having my own show, and turning my #MoreThanPrettyCampaign into a national movement, which shifts the world's perspective on female leadership.

I do what I do for my mother and grandmother who have virtually eliminated any excuse for why I can't be anything I want in this life. I also do it to show multipassionate women and girls that they have a right to explore all the things that make them happy and interest them. There is a such thing as being an attorney and a blogger or a stockbroker and a stylist. The sky is the limit. I hope by seeing me do my own thing, they are inspired to break out of the box others try to build around us.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? What is the most challenging part?

The most rewarding part of my job as a writer is being able to tell stories and relay information from the perspective of a black woman. We make up a powerful demographic of this country and this world. Our voice, our thoughts, our feelings matter in the big scheme of things. Being able to write pieces that connect to women like me makes me feel like our love is on top.

The most challenging part is thinking through new innovative ways to capture the attention of readers. With so much white noise out there, it isn't always easy to get someone to click on an article, even if it's relevant. I'm always trying to come up with new ways to get viewers to stop and take note.

"Being able to write pieces that connect to women like me makes me feel like our love is on top."

What advice do you have for other freelance writers?

In this digital age, your personal brand is so important. Go the extra mile to show brands what you can do by having a great website and investing in yourself. Put in the effort to work hard for yourself and others will pay attention. Aside from that, I'd say stay in the fight. Don't take your first no or even a thousand no's as a sign to quit. It doesn't matter how many no's you get. You only need one yes to make the difference.

How can we keep up with you on social media?

You can follow me across all social networks @kandiceguice.

Featured image by Rico Images

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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