I think I can confidently speak for all of us when I say that everyone and their mama had a crush on Romeo Miller at some point in their life. I mean, did you see him? He was every young Black girl's dream - swag, perfect skin, adorable smile and hair that you just always wanted to play in. This is my inner child talking, by the way, not my grown-ass 24-year-old self. Let's just make it clear. Even though years later, the 31-year-old rapper is still showing admirers of yesteryear that there are a bevy of reasons he's considered eye candy.
From his days on The Romeo Show with his father Master P to executive producing WeTV's Growing Up Hip-Hop, we've watched this boy grow up into the spiritually guided, sensible, humble young man he is today. When I connected with Romeo over the phone, I had no idea that I was in for a therapy session of a lifetime. But before we could even get into any of the love, sex and faith talking points, I had to ask him about his latest venture as a host on Fox Soul's The Mix.
The cast of the live talk show, 'The Mix'
Courtesy of The Mix
"As a kid, I always wanted to use my entertainment platform to do something bigger. I was always reserved, but I came to life when the lights came on," Miller said as he reminisced back to his days as a child star. He was deemed as the Dr. Phil or Oprah Winfrey of the house because of his ability to give sound advice on love and spirituality due to having his younger years sped up while in the industry. Little did this natural introvert know that his family would be speaking his role as a talk show host into existence.
When showrunner Jill King reached out to Romeo after Tiny's show inception, he took it as a sign from God to pursue his purpose. "It's the beauty of God and not knowing where life will take you if you just try and live another day," he said to me. "If you're living, that's the greatest gift. You never know what could happen tomorrow. Some of your best days might be once you turn that chapter."
xoNecole had the chance to chop it up with the child star-turned-talk show host about his new gig on FOX Soul's The Mix, the importance of faith and a relationship with God if you're gonna be in a relationship with him, and the most important lessons he's learned about love .
xoNecole: Tell me about 'The Mix'. What has your experience been like thus far on the show?
Romeo Miller: This show is so cool! I did it because of the voices on the show. This is a host that's never been seen representing for young Black America. There's no talk show like that and I thought it was very important for this time if we're truly going to make a difference in this world. If we're all gonna be equal and bring that to light, you need a talk show like this. With Zonnique [Pullins], Anton [Peeples], Jamie [DuBose], and Jazz [Anderson], I think you get a little bit of everything. I call it "The Mix Gumbo"; this is the gumbo version of all the talk shows.
Why do you believe it’s so important for 'The Mix' to have Black Gen Z and millennial hosts? What viewpoints can our generation offer on topics like love, spirituality, social justice, and all that stuff?
Everybody deserves to be heard - it's that simple. As I get older, I see people look at me, but I don't have all the answers. The more time I'm given on Earth, I become wiser and at this point in my life, you're still seeing me grow, but the thing I know about my career is this second wave around, I want to make sure I'm doing everything in my power to empower and educate our people, and to make sure our people have a voice. Black comes in many shades, we come from A to Z, 1 through 10, and there are so many variations. That's what you see with us - there's so many different perspectives, but at the end of the day, we come from the same home and culture.
As a host who focuses mainly on love, relationships and spirituality, what do you think you can offer as a key piece of dating advice to your viewers?
Man, shorty, do you know who you're talking to? I told you they call me Dr. Romeo Phil. Whatever you need, I got you on the dating end! (laughs) I could talk to you all day about dating and love. My biggest key to finding happiness and that department is love is actually easy. If you truly think about love, you could love your parents, you could love your friends, you could love your dog, but when you find somebody that you love, that doesn't instantly mean that's your person.
I think that's where our generation gets it twisted. We're so attracted, we love this person and we jump to the conclusion that this is our person. I always tell people if you truly wanna be happy and wanna find something real, just go towards the people who show that they value you. Don't say that they value you, but show that they value you. Trust and value - that's something that will be ten times harder to find than love.
When we first got on the phone, you mentioned that you are a man of God. As a woman of God, I have to ask you this: how important is it for you to be with someone who is also a believer? Is that a non-negotiable for you?
Oh! Well, if you read the Bible, we're not supposed to judge and we're supposed to bring as many people to heaven that we can, right? The reality of it is, morally, there is a difference. I don't jump to somebody who doesn't believe, I don't mind being their friend, but morally, there's just a difference with somebody who doesn't believe in anything. Not saying they can't grow into finding that love for God, but I've always seen that it is harder for me to be romantically connected with that person because God plays such a big place in my heart and my life. It's no judgment, but sometimes some people have a higher calling. I have some friends who married people who didn't believe and once they found that person, that connection brought them closer to God.
I think it's different for everybody, but for me, I just want people to know that everybody's accepted. If God could accept all of us, who am I to be somebody to judge? I think we all find God at different times and that's your journey, but for me, knowing somebody who grew up with that foundation of God makes it easier for me to make that connection.
"It is harder for me to be romantically connected with that person because God plays such a big place in my heart and my life. It's no judgment, but sometimes some people have a higher calling."
Speaking of connection, you’re a public figure - I’m sure you make connections all the time and women wanna make connections with you, too. How difficult is it for you to find time to date when you’re in the public eye all the time?
This is the thing. I had this friend back in the day who told me, "Rome, you're never gonna find love because of who you are. You've been in the limelight as Lil' Romeo since you were a kid, so who's really there for you?" God put me in this position for a reason to where certain things would bother other people and it would never bother me. I'm very good at knowing who's for me and who's not. I'm not perfect and I think we've all dealt with people who weren't very deserving of our time, but you've got to live and learn. I think that's what prepares you for your person. You have to learn those lessons so you could be the best future husband or wife that you could be for your soulmate.
In my case, the whole COVID-19 pandemic actually helped me in my love life because I was able to FaceTime and actually talk to people who I never had time to talk to. That was the silver lining for me because I went through my entire life without realizing I was just going, going, going and working since I was 10 years old. I never took longer than three days off - ever. Finally having the time to talk to people and get to know them, it was a silver lining during this whole shutdown.
Courtesy of KAC Images PR
"I'm very good at knowing who's for me and who's not. I'm not perfect and I think we've all dealt with people who weren't very deserving of our time, but you've got to live and learn. I think that's what prepares you for your person. You have to learn those lessons so you could be the best future husband or wife that you could be for your soulmate."
Let’s take it back a bit to when you were a child star. You mentioned that you only had, at the most, three days off at a time. Do you believe it was easier for you to date when you were younger or now that you’re an adult?
When you look at this generation, a lot of our most successful people aren't the cool kids in high school who were chasing girls. They're the ones who were building, playing with the computers and trying to figure out how they can make the world a better place. That's how I was. I worked my butt off as a kid, I loved doing what I did, and it made me successful and famous in the world's eye. I never did anything for girls and at a young age, I used to spend my money on Pokemon cards and be with my friends playing basketball. It was never my focus to be cool because this girl has to like me. Maybe because I was a nice looking kid and I never had any problems in that department. Some would say their first crush was Lil' Romeo, so I never felt that pressure to go above and beyond to do something for a girl's attention. I had my first puppy love when I was probably 14, but I didn't get in my first relationship until college.
It was a lot easier when you liked a girl because all you had to do was give them a lollipop back in the day (laughs). Nowadays, as an adult, there's different levels. Some people want family and for some people, if you don't like their family, that can play a big part. You want to find someone who matches your hunger and passion for life. When you're a kid, you just like who you like and I think that's why kids are so amazing. Social media does make dating a lot harder in this time and age because a lot of people are lost in the comparison game and trying to keep up with other people.
I'm very private now and I've learned my lesson. I've been burned a few times by putting relationships out there and thinking you have to show it to the world, but now I'm at a point where if you really want to find something real, you have to live social media free. Why are you really getting to know this person? Are you getting to know them to show them off, or just so people think you're happy? Are you truly getting to know them because they make you happy? A private life is a happy life.
Social media is definitely having a huge impact on dating. Do you believe that old school courtship is dead, thanks to social media and dating apps, or is there hope for this generation yet?
I don't think it's dying, I just don't think it's highlighted. I don't think real love will ever die, it's just about who we put the spotlight on. There's a lot of people out there who found real love and who are respected by their mates. If we're highlighting certain kinds of relationships, that's what the younger generations are going to think is cool or the way to go. That's why I play my part and I try to show any woman I meet in my life, anybody I ever date, what a real man is. Even if that person isn't the person for me, they know what to look for, what to expect and they have a standard. I tell my little sisters there's a difference between somebody wanting you and proving that they deserve you.
There's a lot of women who have men that treat them with respect, show them that they're more than just a hookup and treat them like they really want a partner for life. That's why people look at me and ask, "Why isn't Romeo married yet or have kids?" I'm going to do this right so I only have to do this one time because I am very old school and have an old soul. I want my person to be my first and my last person. I'm not trying to get married over and over. Not saying that anything's wrong with that, but I've been in a household where I've seen divorce and the beauty of marriage. I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right and taking my time. Everyone I've ever talked to, I take baby steps. If someone truly cares for you or wants you, they're going to be willing to take those baby steps to truly get to know you. All the men need to step up out there, but all the women need to stop accepting certain things from these little boys as well. It takes two to tango!
Speak on it!
(Laughs) Men wouldn't feel they could get away with things you wouldn't allow them. If a man cherishes something, he's not going to do something to lose it unless you allow them to do that. I think we have to get out of that mindset of, "He's going to do this anyway." No, somebody who truly cares for you is going to try their best not to ever hurt you. Women have to realize that you don't have to settle for being hurt or being let down. A lot of super successful men become successful and a lot of women let them do what they do because of a certain status. Whether they're an NBA player or a rapper, so women are like, "He can have any woman he wants, so I might as well hold him down." Is that really for you if somebody isn't gonna do what they have to do for you?
Courtesy of KAC Images PR
"If we're highlighting certain kinds of relationships, that's what the younger generations are going to think is cool or the way to go. That's why I play my part and I try to show any woman I meet in my life, anybody I ever date, what a real man is. Even if that person isn't the person for me, they know what to look for, what to expect and they have a standard. I tell my little sisters there's a difference between somebody wanting you and proving that they deserve you."
There are certain ways to approach a woman and you seem like a gentleman. I don’t see you walking up to a woman and saying, “Hey, I’m Romeo. Give me your number.” What does it look like when you’re trying to get to know someone? Do you have any pick up lines or do you just see where it goes?
It's a little bit of both. It's about what you feel. If you feel something, you have to act on that. I've been in situations where I did a little bit of everything where I tried to come up with a cool line or if I see somebody, I'm just gonna put it all out there. That's a question that you know the answer to because it's all in how you feel because that girl may like that little line that you came up with and she may think it's cute. Or, she may like that you're so confident and bold that you cross the street just to say hi to her and ask her out. You have to go with the heart on that one because we all find our person in different ways.
What do you think your 20s and early 30s has taught you about love, dating, relationships and sex?
I'm just now entering my 30s, but my 20s prepared me to be even ten times greater of a lover than I was in my 20s. I learned that just because you have chemistry, you're attracted to somebody and you love somebody, that doesn't mean that's your somebody. My 20s also taught me to find love on your own time and you can't succumb to the ways of this world. I think we all get lost in what's cool right now and fall off track sometimes, but you could always get back on track. Go with what you feel and stop following the world because God is real, but the devil is real too and he's here to tempt you into something you don't have any business in.
I learned a lot about separation leading into year 30. I had a dream as a kid that my best years would be in my 30s so I think the best is yet to come because I'm finally becoming the man who I know I'm supposed to become. Even though I had this amazing career, I was very obedient as a child, and I've done things at a certain level to set the bar. If you're here another day, you're smarter than yesterday.
"My 20s also taught me to find love on your own time and you can't succumb to the ways of this world. I think we all get lost in what's cool right now and fall off track sometimes, but you could always get back on track. Go with what you feel and stop following the world because God is real, but the devil is real too and he's here to tempt you into something you don't have any business in."
Since you’re Romeo, I have to ask this question because I’m sure inquiring minds will want to know. If you could build your ideal woman, what would be some of her most important attributes and characteristics beyond the physical stuff?
This is what changed in my 20s and going into my 30s. As a kid, you always have this dream girl and one thing I realized is that I never even dated my dream girl. You learn that it's not about your ideal person or about characteristics, it's about the soul. Who captures your soul and your heart?
My ideal woman is someone who's ambitious, passionate about your dreams and goals - if you're not passionate, you'll never understand a man like me because I'll stay up two days straight just to accomplish a goal. Education is very big, family-orientated, God-fearing and a big thing for me is [being] ready for kids. I'm ready to have my little basketball team. Family is everything. If I found a perfect girl right now and she's like, "I'm not ready for kids," you're probably not the one for me because I feel like God put me here to make some babies tomorrow.
If you're the one for me, we're going to be ready for that journey together. Everything else, I don't really care [about]. You could be short, tall, long hair, short hair - it doesn't matter if you have those attributes.
For more of Romeo, follow him on Instagram. And tune into The Mix every Tuesday at 10pm EST/7pm PST.
Featured image by KAC Images PR
- Romeo Miller Is All Up In THE MIX ›
- Romeo Miller and Jazz Anderson to co-host new talk show, 'The Mix ... ›
- Romeo Miller has yet to see the 'WAP' video: 'It's too much for me ... ›
- Romeo Miller (@romeomiller) • Instagram photos and videos ›
- Romeo Miller and Jazz Anderson to co-host new talk show, 'The Mix ... ›
- Zonnique, Romeo Miller, Jazz Anderson, Jamiee DuBose and Anton ... ›
- 'The Mix' Millenial/Gen-Z Live Talk Show From Tameka 'Tiny' Harris ... ›
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
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
15 Women Share Their Personal Hacks For Better Orgasms (And Sex Overall)
I’m pretty sure that I’m basically being redundant when I say that I write about sex quite a bit which means that I spend quite a bit of time doing research when it comes to sex-related intel, tips, and hacks. Yet I have to say that when it comes to getting some much-needed information in the realm of coitus, it’s been my clients (along with random interviews that I do with people because I don’t mind talking to complete strangers about intimate ish) who have garnered me some of the best takeaways.
Take orgasms, for example. Since I’m well aware of the fact that vaginal orgasms (especially) can be a real challenge for a lot of women, I’m constantly on the hunt for what can help to “bridge the gap” in that arena.
And that’s why I decided, this time, to forego science articles, vlogs, and online data and instead ask some women for myself about some of the things that they do to make having an orgasm, improving their orgasms, and their sexual experience overall something that is so much better for themselves.
So, grab yourself a light aphrodisiac snack (check out “Eat Your Way To Better Sex With Aphrodisiacs”) and dig into what 15 Black women told me gets them off, in a mighty big way, just about every time.
*As always, middle names have been used so that everyone can feel comfortable giving up the goods…umm, so to speak*
1. Rochelle. 37. Married for 11 Years.Giphy
“While y’all be out here talking about some kegels, what I’m into is my man giving me a hip massage. The key is to make sure you use some sort of massage oil that has menthol in it. Between the tingling of the menthol and him rubbing on your hips, not only is it really relaxing, but the ‘minty feel’ opens your body up so that once intercourse begins, you’re less tense, and that makes having an orgasm so much easier to do.”
2. Karmyn. 27. Single.
“Kiss him the way you want him to penetrate you. Literally, use your tongue as if it were a penis and move it in his mouth like you want him to move inside of you. The kissing will turn you both on, and if he follows your instructions, you should be able to orgasm with no problem."
"I learned this trick when I asked an ex of mine to explain what p — sy feels like, and he said the best way to explain it is what a tongue feels like inside of [the] mouth. He should’ve never told me that, boy! It’s been hell in these streets ever since!”
3. LaChelle. 43. In a Serious Relationship for Two Years.
“If you’re self-conscious about your body, get some lingerie that has cutouts in them. There is a lot of sexy stuff out here that can have you covering up the parts you’re not comfortable with while still giving him access to the ‘main events.’ My man loves one of my lace one-piece teddies that has no crotch, and it’s easier for me to orgasm because I’m not overthinking the entire time.”
4. Trinitee. 27. Married for One Year.Giphy
“We’ve only been married a year, but we weren’t exactly abstinent when we were just dating. So, we like to find ways to keep it fresh. One thing that we do is go ‘hotel hopping’ once a month. We find a new hotel and meet each other there. We try and do different hours of the day and come with a surprise in hand. Like he might bring a new sex toy, and I might have on some lingerie that he’s never seen before. Then we text each other beforehand to talk about the best part of the sex we had from the last hotel we visited. The anticipation is foreplay.”
5. Wren. 33. In a Serious Relationship for Six Years.
“What works for me is doing afterplay as foreplay. What I mean by that is, taking a nap naked with my boo before any sexual activity is one of my favorite things. Being up under him, especially if he’s spooning me, feels really good, sleeping together is very intimate, and — there’s something about being awakened outta my sleep with kisses on my neck and back that almost makes me want to cum right then and there.”
6. Bevalyn. 40. Living with Her Partner for Four Years.
“Get on your back and have him kneel in front of you."
"Put your legs over his, and when he penetrates you, ask him to use one of his hands to apply pressure on your pubic bone — the area right above your clitoris."
"As he’s gently pushing down while he’s inside of you…if you don’t cum from that, I don’t know what else to tell you, sis.”
7. Sophia. 38. In a Serious Relationship for Two Years.Giphy
“Shower sex can be a bit much, and I don’t trust a used jacuzzi. What we do is fill up our own inflatable pool and get it on inside of it. It’s perfect during the summer, late at night, because we have a tall fence. Just make sure that you bring some silicone lube to keep things slippery down there. An inflatable pool has been one of the best sex investments that we have ever made!”
8. Averie. 35. Single.
“Wanna know if your man is as into giving you head as he claims? Right after he goes down on you, ask him to immediately penetrate you. If he’s hard, he’s totally into it, and if he catches you soon enough, you’ll be in the perfect position to have a multiple orgasm. Don’t say I didn’t give you the ultimate cheat code.”
9. Victoria. 40. Married for 11 Years.
“Shellie, you actually got me on the cinnamon kick when I read one of your articles that talked about applying cinnamon oil to my clit before oral sex. Since [then], I’ve been doing some research, and it says that cinnamon is also an aphrodisiac because it stimulates blood flow. So, I’ll also drink cinnamon tea throughout the day or share a cinnamon cocktail with my husband. Works like a charm.”
Shellie here: She’s right. I did say that. LOL. You can read for yourself: “Here's How To Have Some Really Great Fall-Themed Sex.”
10. Daniela. 28. Engaged for Six Months.Giphy
“Ever been fingered backward? What I mean is, get on all fours and have him insert a finger or two from behind with his palm being flat. That way, the space in between your anus and your vagina will get a massage while your vagina gets penetrated. There’s nothing quite like it.”
11. Saven. 32. Single.
“Ice. Have him rub a little bit of ice on your clitoris and then immediately warm it up with his tongue. There is something about the drastic changes in temperature that gets me every time. And I mean, EVERY time.”
12. Ferynn. 30. Living with Her Partner for Five Years.
“I don’t know about you, but my man loves to put my legs up in the air. It was never really my favorite move until I read that behind the knees are an unsung erogenous zone. Whoever found that out was onto something because if he rubs back there while talking real crazy to me in a deep voice? Here I come…HERE I COME!”
13. Vivienne. 30. Engaged for One Year.Giphy
“Never underestimate the power of a foot massage. Just make sure that he applies pressure in the middle of your foot where your arch is. It instantly makes me wet. I asked my doctor why and he said that it’s probably because foot massages tend to increase blood flow, including where the vagina is. Either way, it’s always a good night if I get a foot massage first.”
14. Michelle. 24. Single.
“I’m a doula who owns my own exercise ball…for sex. When I first started showing couples the positions that women can get into to make labor easier, it got me to thinking that some of those positions could work for sex too — and they do."
"Something about the movement of the ball takes the pressure off of the back for both men and women. It also makes getting into certain positions a lot easier so that you can enjoy sex for a lot longer.”
15. Carol. 31. Married for Five Years.
“My husband and I have bets. If he wants me to make some of his favorite meals five days in a row, he’s gotta make me cum five times in a row. If I want him to get me something that’s not in our budget, I’ve gotta attempt one of his sex fantasies. We’re both competitive as hell, so it works for us because honestly, even when we ‘lose’…we win!”
Listen, I don’t know about y’all, but this was definitely worth my while. After all, ain’t nothin’ like some Black women who can speak from very-personal-and-up-close experience about what makes them happy — especially if it can increase the odds of bringing some sexual satisfaction your way too.
Speaking of, if you want to share the wealth, drop some of your own orgasm-related tips in the comment section. The more of us who can woosah on the regular, the better, chile. Straight up. #havefun #lotsofit
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Giphy