Sylvia Obell isn't a new name to many in the industry.
The North Carolina A&T and Columbia Journalism School graduate has held multiple stints at some of today's leading media outlets, including her current role as entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News. While tasked with the constant work of reading, researching, and reporting today's biggest breaking news to the mainstream, Obell also has a responsibility to serve a demographic that is undeniably forgotten about consistently in media: Black people.
That's why Hella Opinions, an unapologetically Black show, initially started to recap the popular HBO show, Insecure, means so much to the journalist. "It provides a safe space for cultural references that don't have to be explained and codes that don't have to be switched," Sylvia told xoNecole. "We can talk freely like we would at a kickback among friends and occasionally break into songs from Sister Act 2 without judgment. That's a real thing that happened last week."
Read on to learn more about Hella Opinions and the dynamic team of Black creatives behind it:
How did you get into journalism and storytelling? Did you always know you wanted to tell other people's stories?
Writing was always my strong point in school, I enjoyed it but knew I didn't have the patience to be an author full-time. My love for pop culture magazines and Black magazines that told our stories led me to journalism. Being able to help someone find their story, and amplify it in a way that could inspire/inform/empower others was definitely the allure to me early on when I was just a local news reporter, and even then I would highlight a real-life Black woman doing something impactful in her community; that was at my first job at Essence in the "10 Things We're Talking About This Month" column.
How did 'Hella Opinions' come to be? What was the original thought process behind the show?
BuzzFeed News had gotten into original programming the year before with AM to DM and was accepting pitches. Our Entertainment News editor, Kovie Biakolo, pitched the idea of an Insecure aftershow for Twitter Live with me tied to it as the host. She felt like both the show and I understood the pulse of Black culture and the conversations Black millennials are having as a result of shows like it.
On my end, I had been guest hosting AM to DM over the past year and it had become clear to me and higher-ups like Shani Hilton and Cindy that I was good on-camera. I had been thinking of the right opportunity to do something outside of the morning show so the pitch from Kovie was perfect, and I jumped on immediately to help her develop the show. The "Men Are Trash" segment was one of my first ideas. The name of the show was actually one of the very first I came up with, but we pitched like 100 others before we ultimately came back around to it.
Now more than ever, we're seeing more Black creators create our own lanes and champion ourselves when mainstream media doesn't do it. How does 'Hella Opinions' add into that celebration and into the larger conversations we're having right now?
My favorite thing about Hella Opinions is that it provides a lane for Black media personalities and experts to come on a platform like BuzzFeed. It opens a lane for them to reach a people they may not have been reaching or flex muscles they hadn't been able to at their current job. There's so many talented black creatives in the city that deserve a chance to be seen on a mainstream platform, I'm happy that Hella is playing a small role in doing that. The result of having an intentionally curated Black-only panel is that the conversations are automatically genuine because we are the ones pushing, leading them on social media.
"The result of having an intentionally curated black-only panel is that the conversations are automatically genuine because we are the ones pushing/leading them on social media."
A lot of people don't know the time and resources it takes to produce and run a show. How do you balance a show and your 9-5, and what type of research and work does it require of you?
Yeah it's definitely a lot, but thankfully I have an amazing team made up entirely of Black women – something I can thank EP's Kovie and Tracey Eyers for because they made the hires and manage the staffing. The show's senior producer Donya Blaze really took the baton and ran with it when she came on for S2. We were working on re-developing the show from an Insecure aftershow to a nightly show with a Black culture lens and she gave it a script format that manages to do just that.
Together, with our new segment producer Diane Oswu (who truly gets my humor), Donya created segments like "Unpack It" where we have a deep conversation about issues pressing the Black community on and offline; "Black AF" trivia; "Preaching or Reaching" where we decide if selected tweets are doing the most or just enough; "First of All" which is basically our version of hot topics.
There is nothing else on Twitter right now like the show. What do you think has added to the show's success and the dialogue that it is having on Black media?
I think it's that there are so many great Black culture podcasts, but not many video shows that have the production quality that a company like BuzzFeed is able to provide. I love seeing our energy play out, the way we laugh, dap each other up, roll our eyes, make faces, sip tea (or in the case liquor) – those are things you miss on a podcast. Black people are also just beautiful AF and I love seeing us on camera every chance I get so I'm just happy to be able to provide one of those chances. There's also the way we incorporate Twitter, we also use tweets to drive the show's conversation because we want it to feel like an extension of the conversations we're all having on the platform.
What is missing in today's media? What is the show adding to our communities?
I'm not sure how many FUBU productions exist with this kind of budget but there's definitely not enough. This show is run by Black women behind the camera and on camera. All the major positions are filled by us. I've never had this much freedom over the kind of content I'm creating, it's something I want as many Black women to feel as possible. Give us all shows! Let us write and produce everything. Sometimes my guests catch themselves mid-conversation like, "Oh can I say that?" or "oh my bad I just said nigga" and I'm constantly reassuring everyone that they can be their unapologetic Black selves.
And these are folks who are not new to this media game. I can't wait 'til experiences like this are more common than not with us. The short of it is, what's missing from today's media is more Black women being given the reins to have fun on the job. I get to have fun with old and new friends week-to-week; that energy translates to those watching. At least that's my hope.
"What's missing from today's media is more Black women being given the reins to have fun on the job. I get to have fun with old and new friends week-to-week; that energy translates to those watching."
What's next for you and for Hella Opinions?
We've been really fortunate that BuzzFeed News has decided to continue to invest in this season enough for it to be about twice as long as the first. It would be great if brands could notice what we're doing and see this as a show they'd like to sponsor in some way; to pour back into us as we attempt to pour into our community. I told myself from day one, "This show will do for my career whatever it's supposed to do for my career."
If I put too much expectation or stress on it, I think it would show and also eat at me all the time. Digital media has taught me to only plan about 3-4 months ahead at a time because things change quickly and often. What I do know is that whether this show lasts a long time or not, hosting is something I'm good at and want to continue to do for as long as I can. And that's a sentence I would've been shocked to hear myself say this time last year.
For more Sylvia, follow her on Instagram @sylviaobell.
Originally published on January 9, 2019
Featured image courtesy of Sylvia Obell
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy