Grammy-Nominated Singer-Songwriter Tayla Parx Is Her Own Best Cheerleader
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
"I'm tired of coverin' up all my pride," were the first melodic words I heard sung from Little Inez's mouth in the hit musical movie Hairspray. Not the original; the Zac Efron and Queen Latifah version.
It's obvious to say that Little Inez ain't so little anymore, and she has blossomed into Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tayla Parx. The "Homisexual" hitmaker has been pushing boundaries beyond gender and genre - and the metrics and streaming numbers don't lie. Every #TaylaMade production has been a guaranteed chart-topping, award-winning smash hit that you're sure to recognize.
Courtesy of Tayla Parx
Everything she touches turns to pure artistry from her vocal collaboration on Chris Brown's "Anyway" to her lyrically genius for Panic! At The Disco's "High Hopes" and Ariana Grande's "7 Rings". The multiple Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and actress made her debut as a solo artist with her album We Need To Talk back in April 2019 and has continued to soar as a solo act since. After serving as a special guest on the North American leg of Lizzo's Cuz I Love You tour and being deemed by Entertainment Weekly as "one of pop music's go-to songwriters", we're tired by simply condensing her receipts.
xoNecole had the chance to speak with the "Dance Alone" singer about how she finds balance between studio time, friendships, dating and Korean skincare products in this installment of Finding Balance.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause?
Tayla Parx: I think understanding the balance is something that I've always had in the back of my mind as I grow as a business. I'm a creative in so many ways, it's very easy to get distracted and kind of half-ass things. So my number one priority is asking myself if I am able to do this to the highest of my capabilities. The more success I've had, the more I've needed to hold my time precious along with the experiences that come with making time for you.
Credit: Joey James
"My number one priority is asking myself if I am able to do this to the highest of my capabilities. The more success I've had, the more I've needed to hold my time precious along with the experiences that come with making time for you."
What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of.
A typical week in my house would be, of course, working on music, learning how to garden - I've just started composting - watching some documentaries, cooking, playing guitar and hanging with my three dogs. It's a busy household, to say the least.
What are your mornings like?
I usually wake up pretty early so I'm taking care of my dogs, going through my schedule for the day and responding to emails. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I do a little cooking as well.
How do you wind down at night?
I turn on my lights to whatever mood I'm in, steam up my shower, give myself a facial maybe, and pretty much turn off the music in the house that's usually playing all day. It's quiet time for me when it's time to relax. If I'm feeling extra, I'll throw like three bath bombs in my tub and hop in. It's one of my favorite parts of my bathroom.
When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?
On the busiest weeks, the most hectic part is the energy I have to give to so many different people. Handling so many personalities is work and I wear many hats, so subsequently I communicate with a lot of different people. It can become draining honestly if I don't have the right balance.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
I love Korean skincare products! Like, I actually might have a problem with buying everything on Peach & Lily and putting it into my mini makeup fridge. I love a good at-home spa day, so that's something I'm definitely into when it comes to Tayla time. Video games are another way for me to escape into my own world; it's like motion mediation. Lastly, I love to cook! It's a really fun way for me to get creative and learn more about other cultures!
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
There's always time if you value it. We all have so many moments to use the excuse of not having enough time versus being real about what our priorities are. We've all heard it! if you're not taking care of you, how can you take care of the ones you love? Any real workaholic's main priority should be long-term efficiency and that starts with taking care of you.
How do you find balance with:
I've always had to have friendships that can withstand spending long periods of time possibly without seeing each other. I try to make sure that even throughout the crazy schedules, I just check in every now and then. Even if it's for a moment. You never know what people are going through, and sometimes a familiar voice can be the grounding love that you need.
I have to say I used to be really bad at this. I've completely put love on the back-burner for my career because I didn't believe I could find the balance. The fear of staying in bed a little too long and putting off important things because now that's you and someone else. It's always been scary for me but I think that balance and the right partner is key. Sometimes it helps to have someone you love telling you to either stay in bed longer or get your ass up!
I have three dogs and two of them are very active breeds. When you're sitting in the studio like I am all day, it's key to make sure you're being active in some way, shape or form. Whether it's riding a bike, walking the dogs or dancing like nobody's watching, I try to do something!
Credit: Joey James
"Any real workaholic's main priority should be long-term efficiency and that starts with taking care of you."
What about health? Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
When I'm on tour, it's pretty tough to eat healthy! I'm a sucker for sweets but I honestly love to cook at home, so I have no problem cooking for myself when I have the time. It's relaxing and I love getting creative with my seasonings! I'm from the south so I don't play when it comes to that!
Do you ever detox?
Oh my God, actually I just finished a detox last week and it's so, so, so hard for me, but necessary. I've just found out I'm allergic to a lot of things I've been eating all my life. When you go back to eating after juicing, your skin will show you where you're messing up. It was three days of straight juice and the remainder of the week was intermittent fasting. I love food so that was tough. The very first salad I had on the day back eating was like heaven.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I try to hype myself up! Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader [and] remind yourself how far you've come.
What do you do when you have writer's block when creating a song or creative concept for a project?
I look to experience something new anytime that I have a block. It could either mean that I'm burnt out or bored. I find that if you put a creative in an uncomfortable situation or new situation it'll allow a fresh perspective!
Honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Success and happiness are intertwined for me. I've always thought that happiness is me having success doing whatever It is that makes me happy in that moment with no boundaries. If I woke up one day and wanted to leave the country, or not leave my home or take the year off. Whatever the mood, I find my happiness In the freedom of knowing that the decisions are mine to make everyday.
For more of Tayla, follow her on Instagram. Her new single "Dance Alone" is now streaming on all platforms.
Featured image by Joey James
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.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images