OK, first off, let's get this out of the way: Tamela Mann is a gem. She's the pivot queen, forever accomplished, always elevating her platform, and constantly have us wondering if there is anything that she can't do. And although it doesn't seem like it, her career has already spanned the course of two decades. Two decades! *Randy Watson stomps*
As an actress, Tamela is best known for her role as Cora Simmons on the TV series Meet the Browns. But as a singer, chiiiiiiileeee, she belongs on gospel's Mt. Rushmore somewhere. To-date, Tamela has released five gospel albums, one of which reached number one on the gospel charts. But outside of the accolades, her positive spirit in such a mean industry, has earned her the respect and admiration that she deserves--all the way from people in the entertainment industry, to the fans that love her.
Melodies From Heaven
Listen, Tamela's start was far from the magical realm that it is now. Sis, was literally, at one point, singing Drake's "Started From the Bottom" at the top of her lungs (the gospel version, of course). But since, her journey has been a major flex, and I have the receipts--starting here: Kirk Franklin and Tyler Perry. Rightfully, two of the most respected powerhouses in black entertainment. And Tamela owns the adoration from each.
Mann actually got her start in the music industry by singing with Franklin's group, Kirk Franklin and the Family. She's known him since he was 15, when her husband and Kirk sang in high school together. Kirk has even written and produced a few of her songs.
Here's some footage from the early days:
I see you, Kirk, with the slick down!
From here, Tamela pivoted her brand to most recognizably Tyler Perry Productions i.e. Madea plays and various television shows. After being discovered in '99, well into her thirties, Perry enlisted her to become a part of one of his most trusted sources for opportunities. Soon after, her massively beloved career blossomed.
Take Me To The King
In 2013, Tamela's career saw new heights when she crossed back over into music. But this time as the leading lady. She racked up six of nine Stellar Gospel Awards, including CD, song, and traditional female vocalist of the year. She began touring the world with her husband, David, to sold out shows.
And although we may know her more for acting than singing, Tamela says for both her and her husband, it's quite opposite.
"Acting is his thing and music is more so mine. Singing, I'm very confident about. It's my one sure thing. I'm just really excited about the outcome and the people receiving it. Of course, you're nervous when you're presenting something new, but I've gotten great response."
Becoming famous without even trying? Dassa receipt, honey.
She has lost over 140 pounds!
Throughout the process, Tamela has managed to drop a large amount of weight. As an issue that has stemmed from her childhood, well into adulthood, the decision for her to lose weight formed from David's diabetes diagnosis. Since, the two have taken on a new outlook on life. In 2019, they decided to get serious about their weight and partnered with Weight Watchers to help reach their goals. Of her journey, she has said:
"One of the main struggles was my weight! I've always been good enough to be heard but not seen. I've lost over 140 pounds. I used to be a 30/32 and now I'm at an 18/20."
And now, a YouTube channel, clothing line, and 12 grandkids later, sis has no plans to slow down.
And her favorite part is she gets to do a lot of it with her husband and at home, which is exactly where her heart is.
"I just count it as a blessing. I don't take it for granted. I'm just really grateful. It's been my dream. I'm in awe."
See? I told ya. Receipts.
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Featured image by Tamela Mann/Instagram
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
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood