Courtesy of Scottie Beam / Raven B. Varona

Okay, Now Listen: Scottie Beam & Sylvia Obell Are Back

The hosts of Netflix's Strong Black Lead podcast have more to say in season 3.

Culture & Entertainment

In the recently premiered third season of their popular Netflix podcast, Okay, Now Listen, host and media personality Scottie Beam and journalist and host Sylvia Obell are back for more girl talk and more interviews with your fave celebrities.

Since meeting at Essence Fest in 2017, Scottie and Sylvia have been an inseparable duo. When presented in 2020 with the opportunity to share an inside look at their friendship and to provide a communal space for other Black women on Okay, Now Listen, they jumped at it. Little did they know, the podcast would end up launching in the early days of the pandemic and wind up being a source of support for listeners all over the world. For xoNecole, the ladies talk to us about their podcasts and more.

xoNecole: What can fans of Okay, Now Listen look forward to this forthcoming season?

Scottie Beam: More interviews with your favorite people. Definitely more experiences, more jokes. I think we have a lot more segments coming where we'll definitely bring the laughs. You know, me and Sylvia are about joy and having a good time. So we want to make sure that we definitely enhance that and do more of that.

Sylvia Obell: Hopefully we can do more live stuff too. We'll see. It depends on the pandemic. But seeing what a success the Jazmine [Sullivan] live show has been – the WEBBY NOMINATED Jazmine live show episode! – we definitely want to get to do more of those as well.

xoNecole: Speaking of Jazmine, she won multiple Grammys this past Sunday for Heaux Tales and in her acceptance speech she said that the project became this safe space for Black women. Many Black women view y’alls podcast the same way. How does that feel?

SO: I think for us, it's just why we do it. It's the best part about it for us. Being able to be a safe space, especially as a podcast that started during the pandemic, like during like peak lockdown, pre-vax, everything.

So it became like a new kind of thing that we really wanted to make sure that we were able to provide this place of fellowship. Even if it's digitally, even if it’s via audio and be a true reflection of the kind of Black women that we know that we grew up with, that we're surrounded by, that we’re inspired by.

SB: And much like Jazmine Sullivan, art imitates life. When she expressed how she felt, she was helping Black women really tap into their desires and who they are. We just want to bring that to the forefront and make sure that it's real. Like Sylvia said, it's authentic, it's genuine and it comes from the soul and spirit. And not much of like this clickbait, you know, “what are we going to talk about that's, you know, shaking the table?!” Although shaking the tables are fun.

xoNecole: Who have been your favorite guests on the show and who are your dream guests?

SB: My favorite guest would be Issa Rae. That was fun. That was a lot of fun. One, because I think I look up to her so much. She is an icon to me and speaking with her was definitely a privilege.

My dream? Go ahead and put this in the universe. You could go ahead and make this a title if you want: Scottie Beam Wants Serena Williams. That's all I want. That is my dream guest. That will always be my dream guest. It’ll never change. I am very much so like the stan for Serena. Everybody knows this. I think I see a lot of similarities between me and her. I think she'd be great for the show. I just absolutely love her. I'm infatuated with Serena Williams.

SO: My favorite guest has been Zendaya. She doesn't really do many podcasts – if any. And I think it was a chance for her fans to see like a different side of her. She obviously was very comfortable with us. It was very girl-talkie. And I loved how comfortable she was able to be.

My dream interview guest would be Beyoncé. But Beyoncé is never gone do no podcast like never, never, never, never. So I feel like I should come up with a more realistic dream.

I felt like you were going to say Viola Davis, Scottie.

SB: That was my next one. Then it was gonna be Aunjanue Ellis.

SO: My more realistic dream guest would be – and only because I know this person is just so hilarious – is Regina Hall.

xoNecole: I loved yall’s series Get You A Me. What were some dating red flags that you didn’t get to cover in the episodes?

SO: I don't know if we really went into like social media behavior while dating, but I think it's interesting to see how that's become a whole level of thing. Like the soft launch, the close friends, the casual posting of a man's pinky. Like, did you get that man's consent? Did you get that woman's consent?

SB: I think there are more layers to communication that I would like to explore. I think romance is something that we need to cover what that looks like for some people and other people and, you know, it's defined differently.

SO: Another one for me is grooming. I’m not above giving a man tips about his skincare routine. I feel like a lot of men just don't know there's simple things that could help your skin glow too. Like let’s do the little sheet mask. Let’s introduce you to a toner. You know, it's going to help you with the ingrown hairs on your beard. Exfoliating all parts of your body, not just your face.

xoNecole: For my last question: what brings you joy these days?

SB: I have a dog. Her name is Nina, and she brings me so much stress but also so much joy. I love her so much. I am so happy I got this damn dog. First of all, I'm the stan for dogs. That's all I do is watch on TikTok and Instagram is dog videos. I love dogs so much. So much better than people sometimes. So, I do enjoy hanging out with my dog. She loves some jokes. We have jokes, we have fun. And you know, I think that's what brings me the most joy these days.

That and the past three months we were able to take a break from podcasting and really listen to ourselves. And I think that had brought me some joy too –where I am in my life and how happy I am.

I think that brought me some joy to be able to talk to myself in a kinder manner and in a more spirited voice and tone throughout them three months. I think that felt really good to do because I'm not one of those [people who do that regularly]. So I definitely enjoyed being kinder to myself these last few months. I think that's what gave me so much joy.

SO: I feel a lot of joy in the relationships in my life. I think I've been somebody who works so hard that a lot of times I have tunnel vision. I have a lot of long-term, close friendships. I have a lot of people– my family, even Scottie. Just being able to travel to see my friends or even just making those intentional moves to like have in-person moments with my people and my tribe and just the people who make me happy and pour into my personal life in that way has been great. So it's been really great to be able to take the time off and make moves, to see the people I care about and to make memories with them and to have moments with them. And to also, you know, take time to invest into my actual dating life. All of those things have brought me a lot of joy.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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