Meet The xoNecole Tribe: Taylor Honore, Associate Editor

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In Meet the xoNecole Tribe series, 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.

Meet Taylor Honore, our daily writer turned Associate Editor extraordinaire:

Credit: Danielle Webster

Where are you from?

I'm from all over, honestly. (Caution: Long answer alert) I was born in Iowa City, IA, where my mom was in graduate school for Mass Communications, but she and my father are from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that's where I call "home". I also spent time in Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia. I currently live in Denver, CO.

Where did you go to school? And what was your major? 

I went to the illustrious South Carolina State University (Go Bulldogs!) in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I studied Mass Communications with an emphasis on Journalism and I also took visual and digital art courses.

When did your love affair with writing begin?

When I was little, I wanted to be just like Janet (Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty). Singing has never been my strong suit, but I fell in love with writing lyrics at an early age. It seemed like my feelings actually mattered when they were put on paper. I found that when my emotions were translated into lyrics, they were no longer just thoughts I had when I was alone. I've always had a wild imagination and a lingering desire to be on stage, so at 14, my rap career was set in motion. In college, I studied journalism, and it taught me how multi-faceted storytelling could really be.

"I had always loved writing because it enabled me to tell my story, but my world changed when I learned that I could use it to tell the stories of others, too."

How and when did you start working with xoNecole? 

Since college, I've wanted to work for Necole. I applied a few times before I was on-boarded by our managing editor, and my good friend, Sheriden.

Months prior, I had been working a part-time turned full-time job at Victoria's Secret, but I was miserable. One week after I quit to do my own thing, I got a pilonidal cyst, or a large ass crack boil, and had to be rushed into surgery, leaving me bedridden for two months. I was a college graduate whose mom was paying her bills and didn't have a dollar to her name. I was defeated, depressed, and couldn't get a 9-5 if I wanted to. Then, something told me to apply to xoNecole one more time, and as proof that God is a good, good God, Sheriden gave me a chance.

Me and Sheriden immediately had chemistry, and although it was my first freelance position, she taught me everything I needed to know to be an on-going daily writer. At the end of June, I was asked to come on as Associate Editor.

How do you practice self-care?

Weed and binge-watching TV are probably my favorite ways to take care of myself. I struggle with anxiety, and sometimes my thoughts get so overwhelming that I'm paralyzed. I can't think, I can't feel, I'm just stuck in my own head. Binge-watching my favorite shows with a little Mary Jane helps me to be mindless, even if it's only for a few hours. For example, yesterday, I watched six episodes of This Is Us. In a row. With no regrets. I didn't even know I needed to cry, and laugh, and smile, the way I did for those six hours, but I can tell you one thing, I feel a lot better since I did.

Credit: Danielle Webster

What are your interests? Do you have any hobbies?

I am extremely interested in all things cannabis and hip-hop related. I'm also super interested in nature, cooking, art, and live music of any kind. [I'm also] thinking about getting into yoga!

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

The last book I read and one of my FAVORITE books ever is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A friend sent this novel to me in college, and it changed my perspective of the world in so many ways. When I first got the book, I didn't take the time to read it. It wasn't until I was watching a Pharrell interview with Oprah, and he mentioned that this book changed his life that I really gave it a chance. Now, I read it at least once a year. I recommend this book to anyone I meet who is following their dreams or deep down has a desire to do so.

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

Ladies, call me ambitious, but I'm hoping to be holding a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize when it's time for the King to call me home. I believe deep in my heart that every experience that I've had should be used to help someone else. Like most women, I've been through a lot of sh*t in my life. I've bumped my head, I've stumbled, but my only hope is that other women who have tripped and stumbled can look at me and know they can chase their happiness and follow their dreams and be successful, too, despite the hardships. My mother was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Iowa with a degree in Mass Communications, and I plan to bring home so much honor in her name.

Credit: Danielle Webster

I want to be apart of the Black media ecosystem that creates real change. I want my unborn child to know that their mother used words and ideas to make the world a better place, just like my mom did for me.

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

The most rewarding part of being Associate Editor at xoNecole is knowing that women's lives are changed by the narratives that we create. We work with so many amazing women with so many amazing stories, it's truly a blessing to be a part of a community that caters to people that look like me. I learn something new every day from a different woman and that is truly priceless.

The most challenging part of my job is overcoming a sedentary lifestyle and maintaining a productive work-life balance. I am a workaholic and a perfectionist when it comes to my work. That, coupled with my anxiety makes working from home difficult sometimes. Only recently have I learned to take time for self-care, because at first, I was walking around looking like a caveman, glued to the computer at least 12 hours a day.

What advice do you have for other freelance writers? 

Be transparent! Your story is invaluable, and nobody can tell it like you can. Even experiences that may seem mundane to you can be useful to someone else's journey. I don't believe in censorship in writing, which is why I love xoNecole. Don't try to mold your story to fit any one narrative, find a platform that loves who you are. Tell your story and hold nothing back.

How can we keep up with you on social media? 

You can like my Facebook page @Love, Pretty Honore.

And you can follow me on Instagram @lovetaylormichal and for some flavor in your ear, follow my music page @prettyhonore.

Keep up with the other members of our Tribe here.

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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