OK, so I have to be honest: When 'everybody' is talking about something or something's labeled 'buzzworthy', I typically stay away from it. I'm often a skeptic and rebel who prefers to let hype die down before I even consider paying anything any mind. (Some journalists and everyday citizens are cringing about this but, trust me, if you've ever worked in media and experienced pop-culture saturation, traffic chasing, and bad news burnout, you feel me.)
So when there's lots of talk about a new film or TV show streaming on the Web, my first reaction is a shrug. I've been mad at Netflix as of late anyway. I'm a consumer who can have an insatiable appetite for newness, and after I've spent just a week binge-watching all the shows I love (i.e. music and pop culture documentaries, true crime investigations, historical films, comedic and crime dramas, and Nollywood flicks), I tend to get bored.
I want to see something new, entertaining, intriguing, and intelligently executed almost daily, but streaming platforms simply don't work that way.
With Netflix, once you've picked three limited "preferences" you're stuck with the same titles for weeks on end, and they're recycled over and over. Let's just say I've been hungry for that new-new.
Image by Giphy
Toward the end of last year, I noticed that several of my media and fashion-industry peers were posting on social about a new documentary that celebrated black women entrepreneurs. They'd all been witnesses to the producer's latest venture via screening events and were able to enjoy the moment with her. (I actually felt a bit out of the loop and left out. See, that's what I get for being an introverted skeptic.)
The name of the person behind the film was not new to me. I'd been a fan of "In Her Shoes" blog and its founder, Renae Bluitt, for years and had met her in passing at several events in New York. I also worked for a publication that had featured her glow up, and I loved what she and her brand represented.
When Bluitt's documentary, She Did That., finally made it to Netflix this month, I was super-geeked to check it out and finally share in the moment as my peers had. The project went well beyond hype. It was something new, intriguing, and well, very intelligently executed.
Here are 3 good reasons you need to go ahead and log in to Netflix---or even renew a once-forgotten subscription---and add this to your starving watch list:
You'll Have No Choice BUT To Be Inspired To DO Something Great
Image by Giphy
Bluitt's doc features phenomenal entrepreneurs I've always admired including Lisa Price, who sold her multi-million-dollar natural haircare brand, Carol's Daughter, to L'Oreal in a landmark deal, Luvvie Ajayi, who turned a layoff into an opportunity to became a best-selling author and sought-after speaker, and Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance who has helped thousands find freedom from debt and reach their money goals.
I loved that Bluitt's doc didn't sugarcoat things, wasn't some fairytale---or cautionary tale---about black women in business, and provided authentic insight from entrepreneurs who've actually seen scalable success and have receipts.
(Rapley in particular shared a very candid story about her own financial struggles and enlightened me on something I think many women overlook--financial abuse at the hands of a bae. I've followed her career as well and never heard this story so transparently before.) The keep-it-real conversations about starting from scratch should put a fire under anybody's butt to get out there and, well, do the damn thing---whatever that thing is.
You'll Actually See Black Women--And Their Men---Empowering Each Other
Image by Giphy
The film also featured everyday women who may not be in the forefront of news headlines but had great insights to contribute about the power of entrepreneurial sisterhood and female partnership. A major theme in the film was that black women indeed support one another, and that we're not all at one another's throats to get to the bag. It's the community of sisterly unity in the space that keeps many women motivated, supported and thriving, whether it's spiritual, financial or infrastructural. Also, the inclusion of men was refreshing. Unlike some female-focused or "feminist" docs I've seen, this one shed light on husbands and baes who were supportive and detailed how they played essential roles in the success of the women featured.
It's All the More Reason For Netflix to Celebrate the Black Female Experience
Image by Giphy
We all know how media works: What's popularly "liked" will be duplicated or offered more. For films, it's box-office numbers. For Web stories, it's pageviews and shares. In this case, what you view and like makes a world of difference in terms of what will be offered in the future. Netflix will "forgo or choose not to renew some titles that aren't watched enough relative to their cost." (It even mentions on its site that when you rate content, "you're helping us filter through the thousands of selections to get a better idea of what you'd like to watch." It also explains that its algorithm takes factors into consideration including "the combined ratings of all Netflix members who have similar tastes to you." The more we see diverse depictions of the female voice and experience, the better. We need more black women to be empowered to build foundations for the next generation, and other cultures and communities must take notice of our impact in order to invest and partner for enriching all communities.
Check out the trailer for She Did That., below and watch in full on Netflix. You can also follow In Her Shoes blog for more entrepreneurial and life inspiration.
Featured Image via In Her Shoes
- Everything We Learned From Beyonce's 'Homecoming' - xoNecole ... ›
- Black Mother-Daughter Entrepreneurs Winning In Business - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 11 Black Female Entrepreneurs To Follow - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Whitney Alford’s presence can be seen and heard all throughout her longtime partner, Kendrick Lamar’s impressive rap career, inspiring such deep cuts like the 2009 song “She Needs Me” and providing background vocals on To Pimp a Butterfly’s “Wesley’s Theory” and “King Kunta.” Perhaps the most visible she has been was in his latest release, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, where she appeared on the album’s cover art with the couple’s two children, as well as in the visual for his single, “Count Me Out.”
The Grammy award-winning rapper is largely heralded as one of the greatest to ever do it, and the bond he shares with his high school sweetheart that has inspired some of his most introspective projects and self-reflective tracks has cemented Whitney as a forever muse.
The 37-year-old makeup artist has been with Kendrick since they were teenagers, with the couple meeting while attending Centennial High School. Both Whitney and Kendrick were born and raised in Compton, California, and began as friends before eventually starting a romantic relationship. In a 2015 conversation with Billboard, Kendrick expressed that he frowned on the way certain terms minimized who Whitney is to him. "I wouldn't even call her my girl," he told the outlet. "That’s my best friend."
“I don’t even like the term that society has put in the world as far as being a companion — she’s somebody I can tell my fears to.”
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
Months later, he confirmed to The Breakfast Club his engagement to his “Day 1.” I’m loyal to the soil. At the end of the day, you want to always have real people around you, period. Everybody that’s been around me has been down since day one, and I can’t change that. I don’t change for nobody. I always show respect when respect is being given and people that’s been by your side, you supposed to honor that. That’s how you stand up.”
Whitney can even be seen in the “King Kunta” visual rocking an engagement ring on her finger. Since then, Whitney and Kendrick have welcomed two children to their growing family, a daughter and a son whose names haven’t been revealed to the media, maintaining their famously private life.
Without a doubt, the most transparent and self-reflective he has ever been about his family life was with his most recent body of work, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. In the 2022 release, he gave insight into his past with cheating and addictions as a means of escapism. The song “Mother I Sober” features lyrics about how his “lust addiction” impacted his relationship with Whitney, rapping:
“Intoxicated, there’s a lustful nature that I failed to mention / Insecurities that I project, sleepin’ with other women / Whitney’s hurt, the pure soul I know, I found her in the kitchen / Askin’ God, ‘Where did I lose myself? And can it be forgiven?’”
Much like an image of their family life is the focus of the album’s cover, Whitney’s voice is also featured as a narrator on the album (as well as Eckhart Tolle), and in that song in particular, she can be heard saying, “You did it, I’m proud of you/You broke a generational curse.”
2022 also marked a new era of transparency online for Whitney on social media. The mother of two shared a portrait of herself holding her youngest child captured by Renell Madrano on her Instagram account and opened up about her mental health struggles to her followers in May 2022.
In the photo, she is standing in the light but also shrouded by some darkness and shadows around her. “We all know what others see may not be a true reflection of how we feel. This pic is a great representation of how I’ve felt for many years,” she began her caption.
“I was stuck in a time and place that was no longer my reality and was no longer serving me. My babies forced me to take a long look at myself and journey back through the very things that made me.”
“I’ve always carried the light with me. As a child no one was able to help me process. Many times silence was enforced because my emotions were a lot to handle. Hiding my pain has been a technique I’ve mastered my entire life. Mask it with a smile and everything is good. Silence has been my superpower, protecting me in the most vulnerable spaces,” she continued in her caption.
Whitney wrote that a great therapist changed everything for her and jumpstarted her personal transformation. “After a few years of hard work, I can finally say I hear my own voice again. And it’s very powerful. I use my smile when it feels genuine. And it’s beautiful,” she shared.
She concluded, “Allowing the world in and sharing my experience is one of my greatest fears. But truth is always very important for me. I’ve lived a sober life, feeling every single part of it, with the exception of mastering how to float when it’s all too much. But I yearn to be centered. To flow. To heal. To enjoy life.”
Recently, the vocalist gave another rare glimpse into her private life by posting photos of her with her daughter (who is Kendrick's twin) and her son on Instagram. In the carousel post, Whitney shared five slides showing herself in different elements of mothering her babies. “Me and them… Always, in all ways. The greatest and toughest job I’ve ever been tasked with. Love my babies,” she captioned the photo.
We hope Whitney is continuing her journey of flowing, healing, and enjoying life more.
Much love to the Duckworths.
Featured image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS