It’s kind of wild that I’ve never really pondered why spring cleaning actually happens in the springtime. After I did some Googling, I realized that I probably never knew because (luckily) allergies aren’t something that I personally have to deal with. If that is something that happens to be your struggle, though, basically, it’s a good idea to do some serious cleaning up, in every room of your house, on the earlier side of the spring season; that way, you can get rid of dust and allergens that could make this time of year completely miserable (on the coughing, sneezing and watery eyes tip) for you.
And since spring cleaning consists of doing things like organizing stuff and — eh hem — getting rid of what’s no longer needed and also since this season coincides with spring fever (you know, when the extra sunlight, chirping birds, and warmer weather can sometimes put people in a more-than-usual mood to get into a relationship), I thought that this would be a great time to explore what it looks like to spring clean an ex — or all exes — if that is something that you’ve been seriously contemplating as of late.
Yeah, if organizing your feelings and removing what’s taking too much of your time are on your relational to-do list these days is important to you, let’s dive into what you can do to FINALLY “spring clean” your past loves out of your present life. You know, in my opinion, asking certain questions can reveal answers that will put you on the path to forward movement — and true freedom. So, let’s go over a few that I think can help you to achieve your ultimate goal now.
(By the way, I’m going to address this as if one ex is the issue, yet if there are more, please make all of this plural as you go along.)
WHY Is He Your Ex?Giphy
I can’t believe that it’s freakin’ six years ago this year that I went on what I call a Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour. It was so personally impactful and significant that I actually wrote about it for the platform a few years back (check out “Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour”). The journey basically consisted of me reaching out to guys who I still felt things were unfinished with (at least on my end) in order to, well, finish them.
I was finally able to get my first love out of my system (listen, it’s not romantic to be so caught up in nostalgia that you find yourself emotionally stagnant while giving someone heart access to you who really doesn’t deserve it…the tour taught me that). I was also able to see the guy who I used to coin as “the one who got away” as the now-divorced guy who does some odd things to get back at women who do him wrong (not dangerous just…odd). He’s still fine as hell and just as super successful as I thought he would be — it’s just that the tour got me to see how/why it would’ve never worked out. Over and out. There were a couple of other guys who were more like super friendly sex partners (check out “5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Having Sex With A Friend” and “How To Preserve Your Friendship After BAD Casual Sex”) who I had a couple of questions for that I got answers too as well. And as a direct result of the tour, my heart is completely whole again, which is awesome. Clear on all-things-the-past feels…amazing. Empowering even.
All that from having a few conversations? Yep. Well, that and also getting serious with myself about why the exes were my exes to begin with. My first love? We always had a great connection and honestly, “first love bonding” aside, never formally or officially breaking up (not having a real conversation about ending things) was our main issue. Yet once I got real with myself about how we were somewhat trauma bonded, how his past poor choices left him an ultimate commitment-phobe (along with being someone who, at one point, slept with and impregnated the woman who hooked us up in the first place years after he and I broke up…she decided to tell me years later) and I accepted that, although he’s now a really great dad, I have no desire to be a step-mom (like AT ALL) — he’s an ex because our lives never were going in the same direction, past or present (“present” meaning the last time I checked which has been years ago at this point).
Whenever we bump into each other, it’s always all love but not IN love. And the one who got away? Timing never was nor ever will be right. Even when we reconnected and talked for almost eight hours straight on the first call, we knew that the chemistry was still there and strong — just not much else. Just like before. And so, once I sent him an email stating that I think I can move on and stop communicating but that I also wished him super well, and then when I heard years later that he got married for a second time, I was genuinely happy for him…because our chapter was fully closed.
A wise person once said that you can’t know your “what” until you deal with your “why.” And I can vouch from very up close and personal experience that once you are willing to remove your feelings out of the way long enough to address the WHY of why your ex is an ex, it will start to make handling these other questions a lot easier to do.
What Do You Miss About Him/the Relationship?Giphy
If you don’t get anything else out of this article, please — PLEASE — hear me loud and clear when I say this: SOMETIMES WHAT YOU THINK IS LOVE IS REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN GRIEF (check out “Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship”). Take it from me, that when you miss someone or something about them, that can manifest in a way that makes you think that you still love them when really, you just need to be intentional about going through the five stages of grieving them — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — so that you can actually and finally let them go.
I mean, think about it. When you miss a person, doesn’t it often manifest as:
- Thinking about them a lot
- Feeling lonely without their presence
- Physical signs like sleeplessness, loss of appetite and maybe crying off and on
- Wanting to talk to them or tell them one last thing (for the umpteenth time)
- Longing for or even craving them
Yeah, those are some pretty powerful emotions. Problem is, one definition of miss is literally “to be unsuccessful.” Yes, you might miss them, but if the relationship was unsuccessful, you’ve got to be honest with yourself about that side of “miss” too.
So, the next step? Ask yourself what you miss about the relationship. Do you miss the sex at the expense of “forgetting” that the two of you were totally unsuccessful when it came to getting on the same page with communication? Do you miss being in a relationship on special occasions at the expense of “forgetting” that he never wanted anything more serious than what the two of you had established? Do you miss quirky little nuances about the two of you at the expense of “forgetting” that your needs were never fully met?
There are things about some of my exes that I’m always going to miss. However, on this side of healing, those things aren’t enough to reconnect, in an intimate way, ever again. The longing doesn’t trump the unsuccessfulness anymore. How about you?
Are You “Editing Out” Some Realities?Giphy
Did you know that there is a part of our brain that stores up memories to the point that, whenever we reflect on them, there are literal chemical reactions that will transpire? In fact, some medical professionals believe that some memories can actually "trigger" us into wanting to recreate what we're thinking about. For instance, an article on the topic that I read on Healthline's site (here) literally said that if memories of your first kiss were good, it could cause you to want to find someone to recreate that memory with as soon as possible (pretty wild, right?).
Keeping all of this in mind, doesn't it make perfect sense that good memories about your ex would cause you to want to talk to them, get close to them, and "recreate the good" with them? Here's the thing, though — if you're only thinking about the good, that means you're editing out the bad, and doing that could get you into some deep trouble.
So, when it comes to this particular question, get quiet, get still, and then do some journaling. In fact, go the old-school pros and cons list route and organize your memories by writing down what was good about the relationship on the left side and what wasn't so good on the right. When it comes to the not-so-good things, also jot down how those things made you feel.
I've got a friend who is back figuring things out with an ex as we speak, and this is something that she's doing. As she's remembering that although the good was really good, she also has to admit that the bad was awful. Yeah, you don't want to let your missing someone cause you to overlook why you left them alone in the first place (or how you felt when they up and left you). Besides, oftentimes, if the bad was super bad and they never apologized or tried to make amends (check out "Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made"), all you're doing is sending the message that they can treat you the same way without them experiencing any real consequences for their behavior — and that could actually end up making round two (or 10) so much worse.
Definitely, something to think about…
What Do You Feel Is Unresolved?Giphy
This question, while it might be difficult on the self-awareness and self-accountability tip, that doesn’t make it any less necessary to ask: when it comes to your ex, is something genuinely unresolved, or have you simply purposed in your mind to not let him and/or the relationship go, regardless of what he’s doing or what you know needs to be done? In other words, do you really need answers, or do you already have them, and you’re just in denial about the fact that you do?
Case in point. A few years ago, an ex of mine needed to get some things off of his chest. A damn near seven-hour conversation kind of irritated me because he kept asking me the same things, on a loop, that we had already discussed before. Personally, I don’t think that he was looking for resolve so much as he wanted me to feel like I didn’t make the best decision by ending things in the first place. (Chile…CHILE)
So yeah, this is an important question, too, because resolving matters is all about figuring out how to come to a DEFINITE DECISION as well as how — by literal definition of the word — BREAK THINGS UP. That said, if you know that you need to get rid of the feelings that are holding you back, what things do you need to discuss with your ex that will help to make that happen? Hmph, while we’re here, let me take it a step further and ask if you actually need their input in order to get the answers that you seek because, sometimes, being real with yourself is all the resolution that you need.
In Present Day, Would the Relationship Be a ‘Recycle’ or an ‘Upcycle’?Giphy
Most of us have heard the saying, “Your ex is an ex for a reason,” and while there is a lot of truth to that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least touch on the fact that sometimes getting back with an ex can actually work out. Sometimes things end, not due to a lack of love or even a solid connection — it’s just that both people need more time to do some processing and maturity separately before coming back together again.
So, with that said, be honest with yourself and really ponder if getting back with your ex would be a recycle or an upcycle. Now before you answer, I want you to think long and hard about the following definitions of both words first:
Recycle: to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration.
Upcycle: to process goods or materials so as to produce something that is often better than the original.
Do you see the difference? I’ll be honest, back in the day, a huge pattern that I used to stay in was recycling exes. I would get back involved with them, on some level, even though nothing about the dynamic had really changed. This meant that the good stuff remained good, and the BS remained the same ole’ BS. And honestly, that only proved to be 1) ultimately a total waste of time and 2) something that tarnished the good because either one or both of us would realize that we were only prolonging the inevitable: realizing that we really weren’t meant to be and that we were holding each other up from fully getting on with our lives which ended up creating some relational resentment and low-key disdain for each other.
Upcycling is different. Relationally, it’s not about getting with someone after you’ve barely done any changing and they’ve hardly done any evolving. Both of you are different individuals now, and so, while you have the foundation of familiarity, to get back together would be so much better than it was before.
Now if you feel like you and your ex have “upcycle potential,” I still advise you to take it slow, to talk things over with one of your “keep it real” friends (so that they can give you an outside-looking-in perspective) and that you have some serious discussions with your ex before officially getting back involved — oh, and that you lay off of sex for a while so that you don’t cloud your judgment.
Yet if it looks like there is some real upcycle potential and you both agree on that…perhaps what you’re doing is not spring cleaning an ex in the sense of getting rid of them but spring cleaning in the sense of reorganizing the role that they play in your life.
Is Your Ex Keeping You in a ‘Circle’ or on a ‘Line’?Giphy
I share the quote often because it’s a sobering one. There is a Chinese proverb that simply says, “It’s later than you think,” — and that is something that I keep trying to remind another friend of mine who is entertaining an ex, one who looks totally different from the guy she recently broke up with…oh, but he damn near acts just like him (that’s not a compliment). And because of this, relationally, she is operating in a “circle,” not a straight line.
What do I mean? Back when I was in elementary school, one of my classes had a hamster and a hamster wheel in it. That hamster would be running for his damn life in that wheel, and while I guess the silver lining is that he got some serious cardio in, ultimately, he wasn’t getting anywhere.
Putting this analogy into human form, maybe getting back with an ex can get you some good sex (you know, fun cardio), but c’mon — is it really getting you anywhere? Is the nostalgia actually nothing more than just…that? Will the following weeks or even months really help you to get anywhere closer to where you want — or, more importantly, need — to be?
I’m here to tell you that when you’re trying to make the best (meaning most beneficial) decisions for yourself (check out “Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This.” and “Before You Make A Life-Altering Decision, Read This.”), always ask yourself if it’s going to keep you stuck or move you forward. Because no matter how great something might make you feel, it’s really not the best thing for you if it doesn’t help you to maximize your time (time you can never get back) and get you ultimately to where you need to go.
Exes can be a hard thing to shake — trust me, I know. Still, use this spring season to organize your feelings, get rid of who is no longer holistically serving you and be honest about what is turning you into a progressive person and what is a direct enemy of that.
A clean house is bomb. So is a clean heart. Pun intended here on every level, sis.
No time like the present. Get to cleanin’.
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Featured image by Tony Anderson/Getty Images
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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Feature image by Mike Marsland/WireImage