In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
Any time we can see ourselves on TV, holding court, taking up space, and being our most beautiful authentic selves while doing so, it's always a good look. And it's more than just magic. For Monica McNutt, it's also a mix of hard work, determination, experience, and training. The University of Maryland and Georgetown University graduate was a shooting guard who decided she wanted to lend her voice to perspectives behind the scenes in sports through broadcast. She started out covering the Olympics during the summer of 2021, and she'd move on to work with Fox Sports 1, CBS Sports Network, Turner/NBA TV, and NBC’s family of networks. She was also a game analyst for the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.
Now, at 33, she's a basketball analyst, reporter, and host for ESPN and MSG Networks, and co-hosts the SALA Series podcast. Below, she talks more about how she manages her career while flourishing in love, the power of taking out time to do absolutely nothing, and why she's always going to offer a dose of PG County, Maryland charm wherever she goes.
Steven Ferdman / Getty Imageas
xoNecole: What motivates you to come into the studio every day?
Monica McNutt: I love my job. Basketball has opened so many doors for me and brought me so many great opportunities. The opportunity to have conversations about the best players in the world with some of the best sports broadcasters in the world---my feet hit the ground in terms of gratitude. Pursuing a passion as a full-time career? How dare I walk into the office with an attitude?
What inspired you to get into broadcast journalism?
When I finished playing ball at Georgetown, I was like, 'Okay, I'm probably not going into the WNBA.' So how can I stay connected to sports and basketball, which meant so much to me? At that time, I remember thinking, 'The media has no idea about all that goes into it.' So, I wanted to continue to tell the stories of athletes like myself. As I started to make my way through my career, I realized that it was particularly important to me to keep a foot in women's basketball, to celebrate that aspect of the game, and to fight for equality in that space.
I thought a bit more and was like, 'Wait, the only time I see women is as hosts and reporters. I don't see them giving opinions so much, which is why Jemele Hill was so huge in terms of me trying to find my footing and what I wanted to do in the space. I've got something to say. I want to say it, too and set an example for the women coming behind me and the people of color coming behind me.
I don't know that I would have been comfortable in the opinion space when I came out of school. In fact, I remember thinking, 'I want to be a reporter. I want to do the work and I want to tell the stories.' But, I think, as our climate has changed and the way we consume media, I see the importance of having a voice and the power in setting an example.
Bryan Bedder / Getty Images
What's an average day look like for you?
There's no typical, average, or consistent day! Ha! It doesn't exist. It's just very hit-or-miss depending on what I'm up to on any given day. I could be traveling to an NBA game as a reporter or heading to the Knicks game as an analyst. I could be doing a full day of studio shows. There's not really a ton of rhyme or reason when it comes to my day-to-day [schedule.] The only [routine] thing I try to be mindful to create for myself is at least one day off a week--- completely off.
I'm very mindful of that self-care time, which is a dope bath, with Epsom salts, candles, music. The nature of the beast is keeping up---whether it's a game broadcast or a studio broadcast or the podcast. It's important to take that time to recharge.
What other things do you do to maintain physical and mental wellness?
I go to the gym regularly. I travel with gym clothes, and even if I [only] have 20 minutes, I'm going to get that 20 minutes to get some sweat in. As I've gotten older, I start to feel wired and almost anxious. Working out is hugely important to me. I'm into my nails and I paint them at home and it's a thing I used to do with my grandmother. It's a small thing but it's my thing.
My intimate circle is hugely important to me. I kind of argue with them sometimes as to whether I'm an introvert. I don't know! I just draw a lot of energy from solo time. The nature of my career path is to have on the 'on' switch. I don't know if people realize the energy that requires, so when I get to spend time with my man or my friends and do nothing, I relish the opportunity to do nothing. When my time is free, I'm doing nothing, on purpose.
Courtesy of Monica McNutt
You mentioned your man. How do you balance your busy schedule with making time for love?
The beauty for us, and, honestly a big part of why we work, is that he's also in sports. His schedule might be nuttier than mine because once the season starts, he's full go. I think the symmetry in our paths really helps us.
Communication is a huge part of our relationship. We both have these demanding sports jobs but at the same time, our foundation is important to us. So, if you're feeling a way, we need to be able to communicate that and address it. I've gotten really lucky in that department and I'm very happy.
When you're going through uncertainty, a challenge, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
Girl, talk about timing on this question! Ha! I've gotten to the place where my first question is, 'Okay God, what am I supposed to be learning?' This is fresh and relevant and still pressing. I am very much a believer in two things: I don't believe things just happen. I also genuinely believe that things work out. I think it's between that understanding, we have the opportunity to grow and learn. Sometimes that means I have to crack open a journal, call a mentor, or vent to a loved one. Sometimes it means me thinking through the process of how we got here.
Currently, a lot of my career in getting to ESPN, I was a freelancer. So that meant I was like a butterfly. I'd stay long enough to do the work but not long enough to get the drama. Now that I'm settling into different roles, I'm around a little longer and I'm seeing a little drama and what that feels like, and I ask myself, 'What can I control?' A lot of that has to do with my output at work, my attitude, and it has to do with being an advocate for myself in a respectful way, understanding my workplace dynamics, and relying on my team.
After I get through all those things, I just get back to the work. The bottom line for me is, the work got me here, the work will keep me here, and there's always room to grow and improve in the work.
For more of Monica, follow her on Instagram @mcnuttmonica.
Featured image courtesy of ESPN Images
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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In a conversation about her latest role in the Lifetime movie Abducted Off the Street: The Carlesha Gaither Story, The Real Housewives of Atlanta personality opened up to PEOPLE about her “next chapter” following her divorce from ex-husband Marc Daly.
The reality TV star shared that she is currently on a journey of embracing self-love, letting go of self-criticism, and focusing on embracing every part of herself.
"I've never given myself that before; allowed myself the freedom to just let go and walk through life fully embracing every part of myself," Moore says. "That's what I want to do moving forward because I'm tired of holding myself back. This 'next chapter,' as I'm calling it, is all about flourishing, removing myself from those burdens and stepping into me.”
Over the years, Moore, 53, has been open about the criticism that she’s endured from the maternal figures in her life and the impact that it has on her self-esteem. Now, the 1993 Miss USA is releasing herself from the constraints that have been placed on her in the past for a more free and open approach to life.
"I've always judged myself with my grandmother's eyes," Moore says. "She was old-fashioned and very religious, and while I appreciated that and appreciated her morals, I feel like I've been wound a little too tight in the past. I've always contained myself, especially in my personal relationships. And I'm done doing that."
While coming to terms with the end of her marriage, Moore shared that she has long held herself responsible for the divorce and her tendency to self-judge. However, she has since decided not to burden herself with unnecessary blame and guilt around the separation.
"For years, I blamed myself for my divorce — in the same way I judged myself, that was my default," Moore says. "But recently, I looked back at text messages between us, emails, listened to voice recordings, and it finally hit me: It wasn't me. So I said, 'I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do this to myself.'"
"The only thing that I can say with me is that once I did see the red flag, I should have gotten out then," Moore says in hindsight. "I needed to stop being Captain Save-a-Hoe. Some hoes can't be saved!"
Now, the mother and entrepreneur has her sights set on the overall growth of her hair line, Kenya Moore Hair Care, as CEO; and if it’s in the cards, she’s open to entertaining new love in her life — although it’s not her top priority.
"If there's an amazing gentleman that pops up on the horizon who wants to take me to Monaco, and we have a yacht ride or something, then yes — yes. I will," she says jokingly. "Don't ask me twice! And no, I'll not apologize for it either."
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