Oprah Winfrey, known for her ability to instill hope and inspiration in others, was the first Black woman to be awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes last night. And after her amazing accepance speech, rumor has it that a presidential future might be in Oprah's future.
If it's true, We. Are. So. Here. For. It.
Her acceptance speech was an eloquent monologue laced with so many truths that a standing ovation did not suffice. As if her cinematic contributions were not enough to the world of entertainment, this speech was surely the conferment of her excellence.
She spoke to the power of the voice - that using your story to drive conversations instead of biting the tongue is one of the biggest acts of courage. Speaking our truth is the most powerful tool we have because it is not only the gateway to living a life of fulfillment for ourselves, but is the catalyst that works to illuminate someone else in their own journey - to healing, to self-discovery, to leadership.
"For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those [brutally powerful] men. But their time is up. Their time is up."
Oprah's acceptance speech was a sweet culmination to the aura of solidarity that was present the whole night, offering up exaltation to the women who have stepped forward in the past year, and also in history, to push the conversation forward about the imbalance of power that lies - awake and breathing - in our country. Shortly after, Twitter and various news sources (including CNN), have evolved the memorable moment into an Oprah For President campaign.
With the recent presidential election resulting in four years of Trump, we learned that virtually anything is possible. Even a billionaire with no political experience becoming the leader of the free world by running our country. Imagine a world led by Oprah. A woman that clearly champions for other women, who prioritizes mental and spiritual health, whose vision of a better future are evident in her charity work and her dedication to the education of girls in this world.
Last night's speech was not only an audible upward fist to the women who are out there pushing forward the agenda of solidarity but a reminder of the possibilities that come with sheer determination and hope. It also served as a call to action for men to listen more and recognize their placement in the equation of balance in industries across the spectrum.
As it pertains to leadership, the world has been led by men for far too long, and maybe it's time that a woman steps in to show us how it's done. Like Oprah poignantly stated in her speech, "Their time's up." With her money, fame, and influence, Oprah would be a formidable candidate for the Democratic party in the 2020 elections.
Oprah for President 2020.
Watch the full video of her acceptance speech below.
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
It's official! Nelly finally confirms that he and Ashanti have rekindled their romance. The "Country Grammar" rapper sat down with Love and Hip Hop Atlanta stars Rasheeda and Kirk Frost on Rasheeda Boss Moves and revealed the news (although this comes at no surprise to many of us who've heard the rumors.) "Yeah, we cool again. I think it surprised both of us, though," he said, smiling. "It wasn't anything that was like, I don't think planned. I think we both was pretty much doing what we do, but sometimes, being separate, you understand one another more.
He continued, "You can be like, well, yo, let me see exactly what they see, you know, 'cause we all can be defensive sometimes in our own relationships. We know we wrong, but we gonna stand on it, but we all are victim to that." When Rasheeda asked him if it felt good to get back with the "Baby" singer, he replied, "Yeah."
"I mean because it's no pressure. Before, I feel like both of us are doing what we doing career-wise, and when you got so many people in the middle of it, it could be tough," he said.
After the news came out, Ashanti later hit the 2023 VMA's red carpet wearing a clutch with a picture of the couple plastered on it, and it was giving "my man, my man, my man." However, she told ETthat the photo on her clutch was taken at the 2003 VMA's 20 years ago. We love a full-circle moment.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Rumors of the couple rekindling their relationship started in December 2021 when they performed their song "Body On Me" together during Power 98.3 and 96.1's Under the Mistletoe concert. From there, they were spotted together many more times, further fueling the rumors. The couple has a long history together filled with beautiful moments that make them one of the most beloved celebrity couples in music. Here's a look back on their love:
2003: Nelly and Ashanti Meet
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Nelly and Ashanti meet for the first time at the Grammy Awards press conference in 2003. In a 2011 episode of VH1's Behind the Music, the "Foolish" singer reflected on that moment. “The first time I met Nelly, he asked me for my autograph, but I think he was being sarcastic, and I remember writing it down on the program,” she recalled. “That picture has been in so many publications as something else, but it all started out as a joke. For the record, it took him a long time to get my number.”
Nelly and Ashanti Begin Dating
However, it wasn't long after meeting that the two reportedly began dating.
2008: Ashanti Teases Future Engagement to Nelly
The couple kept their relationship relatively private. However, Ashanti did give some insight into their future plans. In an interview with People, the Grammy award-winning artist teased a possible engagement. “Oh no. Noooo! No engagement.” she said while responding to rumors of an upcoming wedding, “But definitely in the future. Ha! Ha!”
Nelly and Ashanti Collaborate on Music
Photo by Thomas Gannam/WireImage
Nelly and Ashanti collaborated on the song "Body On Me," and the "Dilemma" rapper also starred in the singer's video for "Good Good."
2010: Nelly Explains Why He Isn't Ready for Marriage
In an interview with Rap-Up TV, Nelly revealed why he has yet to propose to Ashanti. “I don’t know, right now we’re just friends,” he said. “I’m married to my work. I’m married to getting things into a certain situation. She’s married to getting things into a certain situation right now.”
He concluded, “We enjoy each other’s company. We love it.”
2013: Nelly and Ashanti Break Up
In 2013, the couple reportedly split after a decade together.
2014: Ashanti Calls Nelly Her First Real Love
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Talking to Sway in the Morning, Ashanti revealed that Nelly was her "first true love."
Nelly Begins Dating Shantel Jackson
That same year, Nelly began dating Shantel Jackson.
2015: Ashanti Said Nelly 'Betrayed' Her
Ashanti opened up about her breakup with the diamond-selling artist on The Meredith Vieira Show. “I think sometimes when people have their own insecurities, it allows them to act out of character,” she said. “I’ve been betrayed.”
She continued, “And I feel like, again, you just have to grow. You have to grow up and accept responsibility for the things that you do. I’m not a big fan of people being cowards. I think it’s really important to know yourself and understand what you want and get it. I’m in a different place right now.”
2021: Nelly and Shantel Split Up
Shantel confirmed that she and Nelly broke up while replying to a fan on Instagram. "No we're not ….. Just friends," she said after being asked if they were still together.
Nelly and Ashanti's Verzuz Hug Goes Viral
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage
In September 2021, the then-former couple made headlines when Nelly walked across the stage to hug Ashanti during Fat Joe and Ja Rule's Verzuz, which had fans hopeful for a reconciliation. Later, in an interview with Angie Martinez, the Guinness World Book record holder revealed how she felt seeing him.
"It was very unexpected. I hadn't seen him in like six years or more. Spoken or seen," she said. "It was a little awkward." However, she said she wore "the perfect ex outfit."
Ashanti Denies Dating Flo Rida and Explains Why She Likes to Keep Her Love Life Private
During her December 2021 The Breakfast Club appearance, Ashanti cleared up rumors that she was dating rapper Flo Rida after photos of them vacationing together made their rounds on social media. "That's my brother. Me and Flo are super cool," she said.
She continued, "We've been going to each other's birthday parties for ten years, so I don't know why it's such a surprise now." The "Only U" artist also opened up about why she likes to keep her love life private. "I have never in my life posted a dude that I'm dealing with, ever. I mean, maybe Nelly on the fly or something like that. Like 100 years ago, but nothing like, 'oh, we're together, never." I like to keep things private.
"I like to be super low especially until things are like solid, solid," she explained. "There are at least two people super heavy in the industry, we dated and we never posted."
Nelly and Ashanti Perform Together
The two performed their hit song "Body On Me" together during Power 98.3 and 96.1's Under the Mistletoe concert in Arizona, thus sparking dating rumors.
February 2023: Nelly Addresses Ashanti Dating Rumors
Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage
Nelly opened up about his friendship with Ashanti in a February interview with Entertainment Tonight. "Time does wonders for a lot of different things, and time is one those things that allows you time to reflect on what's what, and you get a chance to see things in a different light and see your faults," he said. "So I think we both did that, and it's cool that we just friends."
April 2023: Nelly and Ashanti Reunite Again
In April, the "Body On Me" collaborators further fueled rumors of them dating again after they were spotted holding hands at the Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia fight. And in May 2023, they shared another steamy performance at the Palms Casino Resort during the singer's show with Ja Rule.
June 2023: Nelly and Ashanti Wear Matching Outfits
The following month, Nelly and Ashanti attended Pierre "P" Thomas' birthday party wearing matching outfits.
August 2023: Nelly and Ashanti Share a Video Singing Together
The couple posted a video of them singing to Usher's 1998 hit "Nice & Slow."
September 2023: Nelly and Ashanti Confirm They're Back Together
Let's hope they make the second time around count.
Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images