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
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How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
As I move through life and experience different highs and lows, one thing that has become increasingly clear is the importance of self-love and self-worth. Now, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I do feel like if it’s in a good place, people experience life more fully. And when it comes to love, my friend Amanda Wicks and her husband, Will Ford, are the perfect example.
Amanda may not remember this, but years ago, on one of her many visits back to Atlanta (we both went to Clark Atlanta University), she sat across from me at a dinner table and declared she was done looking for love. She was happy with who she was, and while she still desired it, it was no longer something she was chasing. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. The statement was so bold it made me quickly reroute our usual dating story catch-ups and awkwardly move to a different topic.
Well, the next time we met up, she told me she had met someone and was moving to Houston to live with him. Imagine my surprise and concern. Later, I’d find out that this decision, like so many other elements of their relationship, flowed naturally and organically. Their whole partnership has been full of peace and vulnerability.
Fast forward to today’s conversation, they’re still living together, celebrating four years of marriage, and planning to create a family. And while this stage of their story sounds generally normal, the way they got there is nothing but. Check out the "How We Met" feature below to see how a couple who never spoke on the phone and lived in different states ended up in a loving marriage full of ease, art, and authenticity.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Walk me through your ‘How We Met’ story.
Amanda: We met on Instagram (laughs). He followed me first, and I followed back because he does art, and I was intrigued by that. Honestly, we followed each other for a while before we connected. But I remember one day I saw a post where he had on a Martin t-shirt that I liked, and that sparked our conversation. He ended up telling me he made the shirt and actually mailed me one. So when I got it, I made a post wearing it, and that’s where the conversation started. Since that day we’ve communicated every day since.
Will: Yeah, I initially saw her on a short-hair Instagram page and followed her because I thought she was attractive. I actually showed her to my co-workers on one of our monthly outings as an example of my “type” – something I had never done. But one thing I will say is, I noticed she had on a Nina Simone shirt in one of her photos, that’s what got me. It showed she had more depth.
I guess that answers my next question. Did you have an initial attraction to each other?
Will: (Laughs) Yeah, I did.
Amanda: For me, no. I just wasn’t looking at him through that lens. I didn’t follow him because he was attractive. I don’t follow people online because of that. I actually remember a time when we were going back and forth, and I was like, “Aye, you kinda cute.” It was a specific moment. Once I started looking through his page more often, I started to view him that way, but it still was more of an acknowledgment. We really connected primarily because of our creative interests.
So, how did it go to the next level?
Amanda: I was in Nashville, and he was in Houston. But I’m somebody where if I feel like doing something, I’m going to do it. I had been meaning to go to Houston for a while to see a friend, so I felt like it was the perfect combination of a circumstance. We had been talking a lot, and I knew I liked him as a person and really wanted to meet him, but of course, I was aware of the idea that it could blossom into more. I remember I sent him a text saying, “Would you think I was crazy if I pulled up to Houston?”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What was your reply? Did you think she was crazy?
Will: In my mind, I was like, I don’t know. (Laughs) I wanted her to, though, so I wasn’t going to say yeah. It was a little wild, but I encouraged it.
Okay, so tell me about the date.
Amanda: I don’t know if you’d call it our first “date,” but the first time we met, we went to a skating rink. I was a little nervous about meeting him in person. Like, what if we don’t have chemistry – that was in the back of my head a little. But I brought my friend with me as a buffer, and thank God I did because he was so quiet the whole night. I literally can’t think of one thing he said the entire time. But the saving grace was that we had built a rapport. We reconnected the following night and were together until 5 a.m. – just sitting there talking. We ended up spending the whole weekend together.
Will: I’m socially awkward if I don’t know you. Also, before the date, I didn’t know what she sounded like or anything because, that’s another thing, we hadn’t talked on the phone. (They both really don’t like phone calls, so everything was through texts at this point.) I guess I could say I was kinda nervous, too. I had never met someone through social media, and then here I was, meeting her in person at a skating rink. I hadn’t skated in years, I was hoping I didn’t fall. But we had just been talking so much that I was open to it.
What made you want to take that risk?
Will: She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around.
Amanda: I don’t think it was anything specific. It’s not hard for me to connect with people. But there were no red flags. We align across the board. That was different. We really connect on how we see the world.
"She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around."
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Out of curiosity, what are your love languages?
Amanda: I connect with all of them. I think it just depends on what I’ve been lacking. I appreciate words of affirmation because I’m so big on actions that I like those bold statements of love, and of course, I appreciate quality time. The older I get, the more I appreciate physical touch, but that’s not something I need. With receiving gifts, I like thoughtfulness, and I like giving thoughtful gifts, too. But acts of service is for sure my biggest one. I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most.
"I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most."
Will: I think it all depends on how I’m feeling, too. But probably also acts of service. I like how Amanda will buy me deodorant when I run out (laughs). She just does so much all the time to show that I’m thought of.
At what point in your connection did y’all have the “what are we” conversation?
Will: I don’t think we ever had that convo. We never defined anything, we just kinda went with how it was going. However, I knew I wanted it to be more serious when I went to visit her. She had been coming to Houston once a month, and I went to Florida (she was there for work) to see her. I realized I felt comfortable coming into her space, too. That gave me that last little bit of whatever I needed.
Amanda: Yeah, I can’t say I had a defined moment like that. But again, as we had more and more interactions, there were just no red flags. The more we thought about it, the more we realized no matter where we went relationship-wise, we were adamant about being a part of each other’s lives. We never had the “talking to other people” conversation or anything. But we did both understand we weren’t going anywhere. Eventually, it graduated to convos around building a life together, but even that was over six months in. I just liked him as a person.
Have there been any negative revelations that your partnership and marriage have taught you about yourself?
Amanda: I’ve always felt that partnership is supposed to make the other person’s life easier. For me, it was a struggle to let someone help me in all the ways I didn’t really know I needed help. As I started having less capacity, I had to realize that it doesn't work anymore. It was hard for me to acknowledge and ask for help. I think that’s something I am still coming to terms with, even with other relationships in my life.
Will: I think I’m learning and still learning how to get out of my head. I’m the kind of person who always has to visualize stuff before it happens. And this relationship is the first thing that I don’t do that with. Of course, we plan stuff, but I know it’s gonna be good regardless. It allows me to stay in the moment. If I can do that with this, which is the most important thing to me, why can’t I do that with other things?
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What challenges have you faced together?
Will: For me, the preconceived challenge was living together. I’ve never lived with a woman before. Even in my previous relationship, it was long-distance. I’m also the type of person that likes my space, but as soon as she got here, that was out the window. It was so smooth it made me feel stupid for questioning it.
Amanda: I’m grateful to say we don’t necessarily have challenges between each other together. But we have been struggling with infertility and health issues. Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way. But that’s an example of how having someone else there can be helpful. I was so functional as a full-blown individual doing everything by myself.
So, in my head, I don’t need anyone, but having someone there who is happy to support me has taught me it’s okay to welcome that. It’s made us stronger because it’s taught us how we both function under duress – it’s good to know it’s not terrible (laughs).
"Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way."
What are some of the shared values that are important to your relationship?
Will: How we see life, what we’re here for, and how you’re supposed to treat people. It sounds really simple, but it’s not as common as you think.
Amanda: We value being really good people – without strings. We both don’t value money, but we value stability. So we don’t have to endure the “why are you not hustling” arguments. We were both stable people individually, and we came together. Also, we both value meaningful connections, alone time, reflection, and family. That guides us in what we do and how we build a life.
Finally, what is your favorite thing about each other?
Amanda: I’ll say one of my favorite things about him is that he’s brilliant. I view myself as a smart person, but in my head, he can do what I’m doing ten times faster. There are times I want to push myself to do stuff, and I’ll just ask him because I know he can do it. It’s incredible.
Will: My favorite thing about her is how people see her. Being a witness to how important she is to other people’s lives is amazing. Standing to the side and seeing how she affects them is really special.
Feature image courtesy of Amanda Hicks and Will Ford
Zoe Saldaña is raising her sons to mirror her in the most incredible way.
The From Scratch star opened up to PEOPLE in an exclusive where she spoke about leading her household by example, the different seasons of parenthood, and teaching her boys to embrace their femininity.
The 45-year-old actress is a mother to three sons that she shares with her husband and longtime love Marco Perego-Saldaña. The couple have twin sons, 8-year-olds Cy and Bowie, and a 6-year-old named Zen. The working mom never hesitates to be transparent about the delicate balance that is headlining films while raising a family.
Zoe told PEOPLE that she regards parenthood as "the most amazing thing," but she doesn't take the impact she has in molding her sons lightly.
"We are here to set very big tones for them in life on how to be, how to react, how to regulate, how to repair, how to heal, how to stand up for yourself. So they're going to be constantly mirroring what you do, knowing that you're being observed at all times," she explained.
Zoe credited communication and teamwork as a saving grace for how she and her husband Marco are able to adapt and adjust depending on their busy schedules. The star told the outlet that they are "very honest with each other about what your bandwidth feels like it can be."
She continued, "Certain seasons, I'm the one that may be taking over all of the domestic operations so that my husband can mentally break away and focus on his creativity. And other seasons when I go completely back into work mode, then we're switching off. I don't think it's ever an even share of the load, which is why I think it's important to be absolutely transparent with your bandwidth and where you are and how you're doing."
Zoe has also been candid about her belief in not instilling gender roles into her boys. Instead of adopting a mantra of "boys will be boys," Zoe and her husband take their approach to parenthood as an opportunity to teach their sons "to honor and celebrate women." Just as important to Zoe is showing Cy, Bowie, and Zen how to also "honor themselves, their femininity, to celebrate their feminine self as well."
"We're very hard on our boys the same way we're hard on women. And boys are encouraged to be strong and to suppress their emotions. And then once you learn to do that so much for so long, you become completely excommunicated from your feelings," Zoe explained to PEOPLE.
She added, "We definitely understood the assignments and accepted it knowing that we were raising boys during a time when women's movements are so important."
This isn't the first time the Avatar star has touched on the importance of a strong female presence in her growing boys' lives. Back in 2017, the Marvel actress told Yahoo Style about her young sons' superhero obsessions at the time.
"My boys are obsessed with female superheroes. And we have to search high and low to find these toys. [My sons] are demanding a female presence as much as a male presence. I am accepting this ironic challenge that this universe has presented to me."
In the past, Zoe has also been vocal about the importance of a village when raising a child and dispelling the myth of "having it all" and instead embracing "compromise" and "sacrifice" in her reality as a working mom.
“Our assistant, our nanny, and our housekeeper. They are literally raising our children with us,” she told Yahoo Style in 2017. “It’s because of them I am able to rip myself away as long as I can, and my husband as well, to do what we do. They’re teaching us how to manage our pain as they’re raising our kids with us … When you’re away a little too much, it compromises a lot more things. It’s a sacrifice and a pain that will never go away. You take every day at a time.”
Featured image by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Fendi