Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander has been in the public eye for the last decade–scouted in an airport for the pioneer of wild reality TV show on VH1, Flavor of Love, and later appearing on I Love Money. In most recent years, she was more notably known for her public and candid relationship with NBA vet, Shaquille O'Neal. But after a failed relationship in the same public eye that watched her win both Flava Flav's heart and $250,000, Nicole Alexander slowly seemed to fade into a world of unforgettable reality TV stars who come and go.
That didn't stop her drive behind the scenes. She used that very money to buy a huge home in Tennessee, launch a clothing business, and build her brand which includes her latest project It Takes a Sister on Oxygen. For the first time, Nicole isn't just a pretty face cast on another show for entertainment purposes, she also serves as the executive producer. Now, Hoopz is aiding in the shift of society's perception about black women on reality television. She's capable of leading, and after one messy moment on national television, loving again.
“I'm still hopeful for love," she tells me as she skims through her three-year relationship with retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal nervously, fidgeting at several points that inch closer and closer to the embarrassing part of that chapter. She notes that she isn't regretful about those years, dropping her lessons learned in the areas of self-development and business.
“Shaquille is so smart in business and look at [Shaunie]...being together with him, you just gotta sit back and soak up [that knowledge] and pray you're making the right decisions, too."
With her own reality show under her belt, her family under her wing, a business that she hopes blossoms, and a new partner by her side, it looks like Nicole “Hoopz" Alexander finally made the right shot.
On your recent reality show, within the first episode we see you crying over your ex. We've followed your relationship over the last few years, and you guys were very cute and best friends. What happened?
I don't want to say anything that may offend him, or if he thinks or looks at it differently--out of respect for him, but we just started seeing two different things. I just feel like, I started losing a little bit of who I was. Because I'm not overshadowed by him, but my focus became him. And I still had a career to uphold, and I still had a fan base, and I still have all these other things, so we just started to go different ways. And I came back home and we started doing long distance a little bit, just to get some space and you know-
It's so weird to watch myself crying on television, because you guys never see me cry in any of those shows. But I'm like a hopeless romantic, my heart is humongous so I do get hurt a lot.
I'm at my store and my phone started ringing off the hook from people I haven't talked to in awhile. And they're like, “Oh Nikki, I'm so happy you're on TV. You and Shaquille-you guys are at the Wimbledon." And I'm like, I'm not at the Wimbledon. I'm at my store right now, about to put up my opening sign. Then I looked, and the story was everywhere. And I'm thinking, but that's not me!
It was an uppercut. I just didn't expect him to do something like that!
And I literally sat there and I'm looking at them sitting next to each other and she's all over him, so I knew it had to have been longer than obviously what I just saw.
And everything was good before that right?
Yes, we were fine. We were in a little long distance relationship, but everything was fine. But the respect level of not being out in public. For me, let me have done that and he would have killed me. Out of respect, I would have never taken someone to a major event that you know would be televised. To me, it was like more of an 'F U!' And that's what hurt the most. We were supposed to be way better than that. Do that behind closed doors, not that I'm saying that would have been okay, but be better. Don't be sloppy.
At the end of the day, you can't hold on to that. People are going to do what they are going to do. There is no stopping that. I'm not saying it didn't effect me at first, because it still hurts now, but you gotta be like, okay, cool. It is what it is. It's what he decided to do and he has to live with that. I move on and be the best person I can be. I'm still hopeful for love.
Absolutely. As you should be. They only win when you stop being hopeful [for love]. But what I want to know is- did he ever tell you why?
No, we got into it. And, I don't know, with him it's weird -- we are still close, like the best of friends. We always will. No matter what. I love him still.
So you guys are working through it, but how does that work out? Because you have this amazing new guy that has just, showed you so much of his positive self, and he's treating you like a queen - but you're still friends with your ex. How does that work out?
By being honest, and that is the one piece of advice that I would give everybody in this world. If you're being honest about what is happening in your forefront about everything, who can say anything? You either respect it or you don't. And people usually respect that.
"There is not one thing in my life that I can tell you that I regret."
I make a decision 100 percent. So I feel like to keep hate in your heart, completely disown this person because you are with another, I don't know. To me, that's just a little inhuman. You have to forgive and just try and move on. You have to. The more that you hold on to, it affects everything. The way you think, the way you view things. I think that is one of the hardest things with being in relationship. Because when you are with that person, they consume your mind and everything. So you're not viewing the world through your eyes, you're viewing it through what they think their decisions and their reactions would be.
You get kind of confused, so you have to stay true to yourself. I think being in relationship is a risk all its own. And you have to be strong enough to take that risk.
Tell us about your new love!
His name is Ovince St. Preaux. We've been together a little over a year. I wasn't looking for anything. I was just happy I was going to be focused on me. Doesn't it always happen that way? The minute you're like no, I'm just going to focus on me, career, and that's it. And then, oh hi! You meet someone and then one thing leads to another.
I took a chance on love again, even after the past, which is really hard. But he is so patient and I love him to death for that. To be able to just be there and to still be okay with me letting all that go. And still loving me.
He has a big career on his hands too, [he is a UFC fighter], but we're juggling the time between our relationship and our careers between each other.
Do you think he is the one?
I think you always know, right? We're not intuitive for no reason. You have to follow that. But I don't know. I don't want to say just yet, I'm very superstitious. I know what I know but maybe that's another season.
From the looks of things, we can say that you are always winning! You won both Flavor of Love and you also received a huge quarter million dollar payout after winning I Love Money. Did you immediately flip it into your own business?
No, I bought this big house in Tennessee first. I chose to move. And I think that is one of the main reasons- family is always in my head. Big family, my sisters are always with me, we're always together. It was just me and I ended up in Tennessee initially through an ex-boyfriend. Guys take you everywhere.
It was a little bit before me and Shaquille broke up that I thought, "I can have an easy life if I chose to just want to be with a millionaire and just take his money."
But I had a life and career before Shaq, before any of those things. And to me, I just knew that nothing lasts forever, but family. Relationships in this day and age, it's sad to say, but you just never know. And that scares me. So you always have to have that foundation and that backbone on your own. I can't depend on whether me and someone else are going to make it last forever and this, that or the other. And if he walks out and we're together, then where the heck does that leave me if I stop focusing on what I need to do?
I knew I needed to start a business so that I had a brick and water, and something that just created a value on its own. Even though I don't have kids, I can pass the money down to my sisters and they can learn the business. Learn this, help me run this store, help me run this business so we can just keep going.
"I never opened a business before. But we as a people, we have to find those steps. It's not going to be handed to you. You've got to do the research."
It's been over seven years since you've done reality TV, what influenced your decision to return?
I've gotten offers to do shows before, but I need substance behind my shows or something deeper. I wouldn't do it if it was anything different. We were the forerunners of reality television. We started the love shows [with Flavor of Love], and we started the challenge shows. I like to forefront new movements. And I'm not taking away from any of the family shows on TV. I think they are all great.
I think I just wanted to bring a different element of real. I have five younger sisters, you get to see them all. And with all the 13 kids, which you'll only get to see eight, it's such a humongous family. And they are such a big important part of my life. They are the reason that I work so hard and have to keep maintaining. They are my drive. And you have to keep the business in the family. So, I'm just passing it on down.
Do you see yourself having kids in the future?
I definitely want kids one day, I just don't feel like that's a goal.
"A lot of women get older and they start feeling like a ticking time bomb. I don't feel that way. I feel great."
I feel like I'm right where I am supposed to be. And I think things like that happen whenever they are supposed to happen. But that's not even in my view right now. I'm just focused on getting my sisters right.
I wanted to give them another chance in life, just to succeed and give them the things that I've had, and see what they do with it.
- Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander Dishes On Breakup With Shaq & How ... ›
- 5 Reasons You're Still Single - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
A modest goddess who keeps it humble between mumbles. I'm a journalism graduate with a HERstory in digital media, print and radio. Roll the credits: Power 96, VH1, xoNecole, EBONY, SOHH. Deemed "Top 20 Women in Media" by Power 105. Bronx made me, Broward raised me.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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