Hey, babes! It's your girl, the Mystic Model, checking in with your April horoscopes. This month brings a much needed refresher after wading through the murkiness of Pisces season in March. We're officially in Aries season, which also marks the beginning of the astrological new year.
On April 5th, we've got a New Moon in the sign of the ram that encourages us to take bold steps towards our dreams. Aries is all about the "self" and this dynamic energy just so happens to be exalted when the Sun is in this part of the sky. Over the next few weeks, the courage to boldly express who you are will come more easily along with the help of Mars in Gemini. This combination of elements—fire and air—will give you the energy to get shit done. However, this coupling can result in clumsiness and accidents if you're not mindful of what you're doing. There's also a tendency to burn out quickly, so try to balance enough time for rest.
Jupiter, the benevolent, goes retro on the 10th until August giving us the chance to engage more deeply with the soul-searching process. This is when the difficult lessons finally start clicking and we're able to see the blessings within our misfortune. On April 17th, Mercury moves into Aries joining the party with the Sun and Mars. Watch out for starting arguments just for the sake of ruffling feathers or proving a point. There's a tendency to be self-righteous and boisterous under this energy. Breathe and count to ten before you proceed with sending that nasty work email to your boss. The Full Moon in Libra on the 19th gives us another chance to revisit relationship issues that came to a head around the Full Moon in March. There's no coincidence that there are two back-to-back Full Moons in Libra this year, driving the message home about clearing our relationship karma and bringing ourselves—mind, body, and spirit—back into balance.
Check out your horoscope below to see what magic April has in store for you:
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
Happy birthday, hottie! The month kicks off with a New Moon in your sign on the 4th, making this a potent time to plant the seeds for what you want to manifest six months from now. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro and over the next four months, you'll be integrating the spiritual insights you've been receiving through deeper research, study, and reflection. Once this retrograde is complete, you'll come out on the other side feeling more solid in what you believe. Mercury moving into your sign on the 17th blesses you with some brilliant ideas that can enhance your image and energy. People will be more argumentative during this transit. Avoid the drama and stay focused on the bag instead.
On the 19th, the Full Moon in Libra lights up your relationships marking a pivotal point of change, helping you release a long-standing issue with someone or a negative pattern in your relationship dynamics. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th bringing your focus to matters of love and money. Venus moves into your sign on the same day, heating up your life even more. Your personal magnetism is through the roof. All eyes are on you! (But what's new?) The month closes out with Pluto going retro on the 24th in your house of career, achievements, and social status. Saturn follows right behind on the 29th going retro in the same part of your sky. The work that you do over the Spring and Summer will have some life-changing rewards come Fall.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The month starts off a little more lowkey for you with the New Moon in Aries on the 4th bringing the focus to your inner-world. This is a time to discover who you are at the core and the programming that needs to be ditched for you to finally embrace the badass that you are. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro through your house of sex, death, and rebirth. The next four months can help you take a lighter approach to some of your heavier life experiences and the spiritual lessons you're integrating can be embraced with joy. Your personal mantra for the month is "Laughter is the best medicine". Mercury moves into Aries on the 17th, activating your dream world and bringing your fears to the surface. Keep a journal to work through the emotions that come up at this time.
On the 19th, the Full Moon in Libra illuminates your daily routines, health, and possibly some hidden enemies. If you've been questioning whether someone is Team Taurus or not, your dreams can be surprisingly insightful. Any health concerns can come to a head at this point that requires you to tighten up your diet and exercise routine. The Sun moves into your sign on the 20th, ushering in your birthday season! Your ruling planet moves into Aries the same day. During this transit, you'll likely enjoy nesting with your lover away from the chaos of the world. At the end of the month, Pluto and Saturn go retro in your ninth house. Throughout the Spring and Summer, you're given the opportunity to dive deeper into your spiritual understanding. This is a perfect time to sign up for that Reiki class, connect with a spiritual guru, or return to your old meditation routine. Use the time to nurture and water the roots of your spiritual wellness.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The social butterfly of the zodiac can now emerge from its cocoon now that Aries season is here. Both the Sun and New Moon on the 4th bring your focus to new alliances and possibly bridging the gap between you and people you've lost touch with. The people that you're meeting at this time will play a major role in some of your big goals over the next six months. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro in your house of relationships. You may find yourself revisiting a past relationship or working through some hang-ups during this transit. The energy is also favorable for reassessing any business contracts.
Mercury moves into Aries on the 17th. Be cautious of combativeness and competition amongst your social circle. It may be time to make an executive decision if someone isn't wiling to be a team player. Mars is currently in your sign, making you less tolerable for any negativity that is slowing down the group's momentum. The Full Moon on the 19th lights up romance and creativity for you, making this the perfect date night for some Sips & Strokes. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, giving you a chance to relax after a busy month before we enter your birthday season. Both Pluto and Saturn go retro at the end of the month, initiating you into a deeply transformative process that will heal some of your most tender traumas and empower you in mind-body-spirit.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
Career advancement is your top priority this month, with both the Sun and New Moon on the 5th encouraging you to plant the seeds for what you would like to manifest six months from now. This is the perfect time to start working towards that promotion or launching your own business. On April 10th, Jupiter stations retrograde in a part of your sky that has to do with your daily routines and health. Use the next few months to study up on a new fitness regimen or diet that can enhance your well-being. Mercury finally leaves your sister sign on the 17th and moves into Aries. Watch out for power struggles with your boss or your worker bees if you're the HBIC! It's best to err on the side of caution with Mars in Gemini amping up the "know it all" combativeness that can show up in our interactions during this transit. On April 19th, the Full Moon in Libra lights up the area of family and home. You may be saying goodbye to your childhood home in pursuit of making your own mark on the world. This is the perfect time to feng shui your space to invite more love into your home. Any issues with family can also be peacefully settled at this time.
The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, bringing your focus to friends and your long-term vision. The people that you connect with now will play a major role in your life over the year to come. Venus moves into Aries on the same day. A workplace romance may be tempting during this transit, especially with someone in a position of power and affluence. The month wraps up with both Pluto and Saturn going retro in your house of relationships, making the next several months good for coming to terms with some heavy love issues and revamping existing partnerships (romantic and professional). Out of all of the signs, you're the one most likely to have an opportunity to revisit a significant relationship from your past to see if your power struggles can truly be rectified.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
This month is all about your spiritual ascension with the Sun and New Moon on the 5th, bringing the attention to dating, romance, and creativity. Things are heating up for you and this can mark the beginning of a new fling for you. Avoid getting too serious at this time and just enjoy the moment for what it is. On April 10th, Jupiter goes retro in a part of your sky that has to do with higher learning and spirituality. Over the next four months, you'll have the chance to dive deeper into your spiritual learnings and you may even decide to revisit a former practice of yours. Mercury moves into Aries on the 17th, making you even more flirtatious that usual. Keep in mind, that this energy can be super aggressive, and given your fiery nature, it's best to avoid discussions of politics and religion on the first date.
The Full Moon in Libra on the 19th brings your attention to friends and associations. This can possibly result in the ending of a connection to a group of people that no longer resonate with you. However, this can also be the healing balm to restore balance to your connections as well. The choice is yours. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, making the next month all about the home and family. This is a good time to visit your childhood home or revamp your current living space with some cozy decor! Venus moves into Aries the same day, encouraging you to really own your truth when it comes to your creative expression You may surprisingly find yourself attracted to someone you're collaborating with at this time. The month closes out with Pluto and Saturn going retro in an area of your life that has to do with sex, death, and rebirth. Over the next few months, you'll be undergoing an inner metamorphosis and healing issues around power (or powerlessness) to come out on the other side feeling stronger than ever before.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month may be a little more quiet for you with the Sun and New Moon on the 5th in a part of your sky that has to do with the psyche, inner transformation, and the taboo. This time is best spent excavating the inner workings of your mind and addressing any trauma that inhibits you from expressing yourself more authentically. On April 10th, Jupiter goes retrograde and over the next four months you'll be drawn to explore your roots, making this a great time to visit your childhood home. Mercury finally moves out of its post-shadow retrograde phase offering you a much-needed sigh of relief. Your ruling planet begins its transit through Aries on the 17th. If there's an area of your life that you've been struggling to overcome (whether it be an addiction, codependency, trauma), you're encouraged to seek support through counseling, group therapy, or a trusted confidant.
On April 19th, the Full Moon in Libra illuminates your finances, values, and self-esteem. This can be a pivotal breakthrough for you when it comes to your own self-worth in love and money. Stop sleeping on yourself, Virgo. It's time to raise your price tag! The Sun moves into your sister sign, Taurus, on the 20th, making the next month all about higher learning, teaching, and foreign excursions. This is a great time to share your gifts and talents (and make some extra money while you're at it). Venus moves into Aries on the same day, setting you up for a passionate, lowkey rendezvous with a side of BDSM. April closes out with Pluto and Saturn going retro in your house of dating, romance, and creativity. Over the next few months, you may find yourself revisiting an old flame or breathing life into a hobby you've placed on the back burner.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The Sun is in your opposite sign this month bringing the focus to relationships with the New Moon on the 5th, encouraging you to put yourself out there. You have the potential to meet an important person, romantic or business, that could figure into your life for some time to come. Jupiter goes retro on the 10th until August and the next few months will find you revisiting old friendships and associations that can be revamped to help you get one step closer towards your long-term goals. On the 17th, Mercury moves into Aries. Be cautious of picking fights with your lover or a business partner. This placement, along with Mars in Gemini, can have you (and others) feeling a little froggy. *cues "Knuck If You Buck"*
The Full Moon on the 19th in your sign places the spotlight on you! This is an ideal time to showcase anything you've been working on behind the scenes or simply posting that selfie of your big chop on IG. The Sun moves into down-to-earth Taurus on the 20th, bringing your focus over the next month to your daily routines and health. This is the time of year when you feel the pressure of getting your summer bod ready. Better late than never! Venus, your ruling planet, moves into Aries the same day, heating up your personal magnetism. Things are getting hot in the love department but maybe not so serious. Have fun and don't place too many expectations on a new fling at the moment. We wrap up the month with Pluto and Saturn going retro in your 10th house, giving you a chance to revise your career goals and strategize a better plan of action for the 2nd and 3rd quarter of the year.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The month starts off with you feeling empowered to overcome any obstacles related to your psychological wellbeing. With the Sun in Aries and the New Moon on the 5th, you're definitely feeling the warrior spirit in any area of your life that's had you feeling defeated. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro in a part of your sky that has to do with the subconscious. Your dreamworld will be super active and you'll be receiving tons of insight via your Higher Self and Guides over the next four months. Mercury moves into Aries on the 17th, making you very vocal when it comes to what toxic behaviors you won't put up with (within yourself and from others). This marks a time when you make a clear shift from "Victim" to "Champion".
On the 19th, The Full Moon in Libra illuminates your finances, values, and self-esteem. This can be a powerful time of breakthrough for any issues surrounding your self-worth. There may also be news coming your way about a money opportunity or an expense that needs to be handled. Make sure you haven't been dodging those debt collectors. On the 20th, the Sun moves into your opposite sign bringing your attention to relationships and with Venus moving into Aries the same day, things can get pretty intense. A passionate, transcendental sexual experience can be just what the doctor ordered to unlock your coochie chakra. The month winds down with Pluto and Saturn going retro in the part of your sky that has to do with friends and your long-term goals, making this a great time to revisit old associations that can help make your vision a reality.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The Sun is currently in your sister sign, blessing you with a much-needed boost of energy after that heavy ass Pisces season. The New Moon on the 5th encourages you to do what you do best—level up. You're craving new knowledge, ideas, and philosophies at this time and this may be the beginning of a new spiritual journey for you. On the 10th, your ruler Jupiter goes retro until August, giving you the chance to go deeper into the areas of life that you've been expanding in. You may be feeling less social during this transit while you spend time integrating cosmic downloads that you'll need to help navigate your way ahead when Jupiter goes direct. On the 17th, Mercury moves into Aries, making you super chatty about all you've been learning. Avoid self-righteousness at this time. Mars is currently in Gemini, which can make you feel like you know-it-all. As Auntie Badu told us, "The man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all."
The Full Moon in Libra on the 19th illuminates your mind with an influx of ideas that you can use for that book, podcast, or blog you've been wanting to start. This is a favorable time to release a project via social media. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, bringing your focus to your mental health. This could be a good time to start therapy or join group counseling to support you with any psychological battles. Venus moves into Aries on the same day and you may find yourself attracted to a spiritual guru or someone that shares similar beliefs to yours. April winds down with Saturn and Pluto going retro in through a part of your sky that has to do with your subconscious. The next few months can offer you deep insight and understanding into habits, karma, and past lives that contribute to a misuse and abuse of your power.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
Aries season brings career matters to the forefront over the next few weeks and the New Moon on the 5th can mark the beginning of an exhilarating, new experience for you when it comes to what you do in the world. This can be a time in which you're rising up in the ranks and becoming more popular as well. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro in an area of your sky that has to do with finances and values. Over the next four months, you'll spend some time revamping your budget and diving deeper into your relationship with money. It's time to address the poverty consciousness that may be wreaking havoc on your bank account. Mercury finally moves out of Pisces after an extended stay, and into Aries on the 17th, and the topic of discussion is about your career goals. Just be cautious of arguments with your boss or worker bees at this time.
On April 19th, the Full Moon in Libra visits your fourth house again, possibly representing the end of your stay in one residence as you prepare to move elsewhere. This energy can also offer a much-needed recalibration amongst any imbalanced family relationships. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th bringing your focus to higher learning and spirituality over the next month. This is a good time to expand beyond your current comfort zone of consciousness. Venus moves into Aries the same day and you may find yourself attracted to someone in a position of power. Be mindful of workplace romances especially with a higher up. The month closes with both Pluto and Saturn going retro in your sign, making the next few months a little more introspective for you as you integrate the lessons you've been learning about your personal power.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
Happy April, babe! The Sun in Aries and the New Moon on the 5th brings your attention to your social circle. It's time to branch out and meet some new people that are on your same wave. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retro in a part of your sky that has to do with learning, communication, and social media. The next four months is a perfect time to dive deeper into your studies and to revamp your social media strategy. Mercury moves into Aries on the 17th, which can cause some tension amongst your friends if you're being too bossy or self-centered. Be open to compromise and creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.
The Full Moon in Libra on the 19th illuminates your romance and creativity for you. This is an auspicious, harmonious time for you in matters of dating and you're likely to enjoy a peak experience with sweet connection at this time. If you've been working on a project behind the scenes, this energy is very favorable for your big reveal. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, bringing your focus to career advancement over the next month. Take a practical, disciplined approach to the work that you're doing. On the same day, Venus moves into Aries and you may surprisingly find yourself falling head over heels for a friend or associate. The month wraps up with Pluto and Saturn going retro in a part of your sky that has to do with finances and values. Over the next few months, you'll discover the power of embracing and validating your gifts that you'll more openly share with the world come the Fall.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
You are working your way around the astrological wheel once again with the Sun in Aries and the New Moon on the 5th encouraging you to put your gifts and talents on display. This not only can benefit you financially but the positive reception you receive from others will boost your self-esteem as well. On the 10th, Jupiter goes retrograde in a part of your chart that focuses on your roots. You may be revisiting your childhood home over the summer or diving deep into your family's ancestry. Mercury finally moves out of your sign after an extended stay, and into Aries on the 17th, giving you a much-needed breath of fresh air. Your dreams will be super active, if you're not dealing with intense bouts of insomnia. Stock up on the chamomile tea and lavender essential oil to help calm your nerves.
The Full Moon in Libra on the 19th illuminates your daily routines and health. A longstanding imbalance in these areas of your life may reach a critical boiling point forcing you to strive for balance in your every day affairs. What we consume plays a big role in our mood and energy. It may be time to let go of the caffeine or dairy if it's not sitting well with you. The Sun moves into Taurus on the 20th, bringing your attention to your friends and organizations that you're a part of, making this the perfect time for volunteer work. You're a humanitarian at heart so make sure you're sharing your positive vibes, whether that's with your homegirl that's going through a rough time or a homeless person in need of a kind gesture. Venus moves into Aries on the same day. You'll likely want to lay low with your lover during this transit, preferring the privacy of what goes on behind closed doors.
We wrap up the month with Pluto and Saturn going retro in a part of your sky that has to do with learning and communication. Research and writing are supported at this time, making it an ideal transit to create new content that will get your social media accounts buzzing with more followers and engagement.
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
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Photographer: Ally Green
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Text This Before You Ghost Them, Sis.
We’ve all been there at least once (or a few times) along our dating journey. Maybe you’ve had a date or two with a potential suitor, but the spark just wasn’t there. Perhaps you convinced yourself that just “one more” date would help you overlook a non-negotiable ick. At this point in the dating cycle, you’ve probably reached the point where you must decide to either communicate “why” things won’t be moving forward or simply ghost them.
What Is Ghosting?
“Ghosting” refers to the act of suddenly and unexpectedly cutting off all communication with someone you've been dating or talking to without any explanation or further contact. It typically occurs in the early stages of dating but can also happen after a few dates or even in more established relationships.
The act of ghosting has become quite a common practice in our modern dating culture and can manifest in a number of different ways. From days of ignored text messages and phone calls out of the blue to not showing up for pre-arranged plans and sometimes disappearing from someone's life without any notice or explanation.
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The Problem With Ghosting
Being ghosted may seem like a harmless act of “self-choosing,” but the person on the receiving end of your decision can be left feeling confused, rejected, and even abandoned, wondering what happened and where they went wrong.
And we get it, what explanation do you owe someone for leaving after a few cocktails and a $100 date? While that may seem like the perfect opportunity to cut and run, taking an alternative approach to fizzle out a fling is a great time to practice clear and effective communication that can pay off in the long run.
While there is a time and a place for ghosting (and even blocking) if your boundaries have been crossed or safety has been threatened, if we’re looking to live out our best healed, secure-girl summer, there are ways to date freely without leaving others with damage of their own to recover from.
Being honest and upfront about your feelings while being respectful of the other person's time is the best way to leave a situationship or fling with both parties emotionally unscathed. So if you’re looking for ways to break things off with care and consideration, we’ve provided five text scripts to send instead of ghosting somebody’s son:
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5 Texts To Send Instead of Ghosting Them
1. If you want to take the honest but gentle approach:
"Hey [Name], I've really enjoyed getting to know you, but I've been doing some thinking, and I don't see this going any further. I wanted to be upfront and honest with you rather than leaving you wondering. I wish you all the best."
2. If you want to express gratitude before saying goodbye:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the time we spent together. You're an amazing person, but I think we're better off as friends. I hope you understand and that we can still maintain a positive connection."
3. If you want to leave a note of appreciation:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to let you know that I've had a great time with you, but I don't think we're compatible for a romantic relationship. I appreciate the moments we shared, and I hope we can both find what we're looking for."
4. If a face-to-face convo is needed:
"Hey [Name], I've been doing some thinking, and I believe it's important for us to have an open conversation about where we stand. Can we find some time to talk about our relationship and how we both feel? I think it's important to address things honestly."
5. If you want to keep things cute and concise:
"Hey [Name], I've realized that we're not on the same page, and it's best if we part ways. Take care."
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Featured image by Morsa Images/Getty Images