It was a Tuesday afternoon when I connected with Trevor Jackson. Once the Grown-ish actor popped onto my desktop with a neon yellow crew neck and fully connected facial hair, we exchanged greetings and smiles with one another. His energy was calm yet warm, much like his sensual R&B hits are and our vibes synced perfectly like we were homies from back in the day. The "Just Friends" singer has definitely grown since his last conversation with xoNecole.
As he reflected on his younger years in our pre-interview chat, Trevor noted that his mindset is transitioning into, as he would say, "fun time is over now" and he is buckling down on what he actually wants for himself long-term. With his music being a clear demonstration of his evolution as an artist, especially with Rough Drafts, Pt. 2, Trevor expressed his interest in shying away from chart-toppers and putting his focus on history-making hits. Furthermore, he hopes to do so by focusing on love.
"Whenever I'm creating, I try and find something that will always be true. Love is one thing that will always be true," Trevor told me passionately during our check-in. "That's why I'm very excited about this next album at the top of the year and it's going to reflect a lot of that."
xoNecole checked in with the Grown-ish star about how he's grown in his artistry, which of his projects best describes his current sex life, and how he differs from Aaron in more ways than none in his romantic life.*
WE’RE NOT LOVERS, JUST FRIENDS
Photo Credit: James Anthony
Trevor Jackson is no stranger to making love songs for a crush, current bae or if you're just trying to get it on in the bedroom. The mastermind behind hits like "Like We Grown", "Here I Come", and his Jacob Latimore duet, "Tru Shit", these days, Trevor has been demonstrating high levels of personal and professional growth in his music through his lyricism, visuals and creative direction. When it comes to his accompanying music videos, he's rather particular - as any creative or artist of his caliber should be. "With my visuals, I really am very specific. If I'm not directing, I've got to make sure I work with [the directors] so they understand the vision because I don't like making things twice," Trevor voiced adamantly about his passion for being original.
In our conversation, I also praised his latest single, "Just Friends", which pays homage to and samples Lil' John's Usher- and Ludacris-featured R&B lustful hit, "Lovers and Friends". As a key influence of Trevor Jackson's and a legend in the artist's eyes, he recalls a simpler time in his childhood where he would be filmed on home video singing Usher's ballads.
In the song, Usher could be heard sweetly beseeching, "Tell me again, can we be lovers and friends?" In Trevor Jackson's "Just Friends", the musician is pondering a similar thought but poses it differently, "Tell me the reason, we're not lovers just friends." In our conversation, he explained the power of non-verbal communication and the in-between moments of are we or aren't we, "It's in the moments where you're not speaking to the person and you know that you're both thinking about the same thing. Go out there, put it on the line, and guess what? If the person isn't down, that's still your friend. Your ego and your pride will get in the way of you having a really good friendship with someone who doesn't want to be more than friends."
The outcome isn't always the one you want and Trevor even slid in his own admittance of being friendzoned in the past. "I have absolutely been friendzoned. It doesn't feel good." It came as a surprise, because who would want to friendzone him? Though this may have been my initial thoughts, he explained to me his piece and thought process of being friendzoned. "If someone isn't accepting and they're not vibing, then that's just not right. It's almost God being like, 'You're welcome,' you know?" he said and interestingly enough, I understood. "Sometimes you'll say [you] want this thing so badly, and when it doesn't work out, you think there must be something wrong with [you]."
"I try to look at my life like that, like there's gotta be a reason why she doesn't see me this way. That reason could be that maybe we're not compatible or it could turn out really bad for both of us. Sometimes God's looking out."
WE ARE WHO WE ARE
Photo Credit: Derek Bahn
Trevor Jackson has grown in more areas than just professionally and musically - we can't forget the romantic evolution. That's what xoMan is for, isn't it? The actor/musician believes that the majority of his growth over the years lies in the physical realm. "I think I've grown a lot for sure even when it comes to physicality. This could be unpacked heavily, but I'm just keeping it very general. I used to think if I'm going to be physical with this person, that means they're going to be my wife," he admitted.
Trevor told me that for a while, he believed that "being physical with someone meant that you loved them," but over time he learned that physical touch doesn't necessarily equate to forever with a person. While he is technically at the cusp of millennial and Generation Z, Trevor acknowledges that communication is where this generation lacks as a whole about falling short. He said, "It's all about who the person is and what your understanding is. I think communication is so important and people will just not say anything because they want to make sure the other person is good."
Unfortunately, communication isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're in your early- to mid-20s and still embarking on your journey in this thing called life. Trevor continued to explain to me the importance of seeing someone in-person and not relying on texting to be the sole line of communication between him and his potential boo thang in order to build a real relationship. "You need to see that person because anybody is a good responder. We've all tried to figure out what's the best response and try to put something on ourselves to be something."
"If someone doesn't initially fall in love with the unshaped goo that's on the inside of us, the realest parts of us, then that's not the person that's meant for us. There's no exact way to go about being with someone else because we're all too different and we all have too many complexities that make us special. The right chemical balance can be the first time we talk and we'll be perfect."
Trevor added optimistically about aligned mental and spiritual connections with his potential partner, "I feel like we gotta hang out and I think when you really like someone, you can hang out with them and not have to do anything physical with them. I think that's someone I can really laugh with, lay down [with] and not be worried if they're gonna be crazy."
WE’RE GROWN NOW
Now, we couldn't come to this conversation without talking about his latest acting venture, Grown-ish on Freeform. From acting in the Disney Channel original movie Let It Shine with Tyler James Williams and Coco Jones to the blockbuster remake Superfly, Trevor Jackson has yet to disappoint when delivering his lines. When I asked which title from his IMDb best describes his love life, Trevor responded ironically yet hilariously. "Definitely not Let It Shine because that's Jesus," he laughed at his own response. "I'm joking. We love Jesus, but not in the bedroom. I mean, I'd like to combine the Superfly and Grown-ish worlds."
With Grown-ish reemerging from the ashes of quarantine on January 21, Trevor gave me the tea on his personal relationship with his character Aaron Jackson, who is an intelligent, artsy activist and a love interest of Yara Shahidi's protagonist Zoey Johnson. "I'm a little more cold than Aaron. You've got a few chances with me," Trevor said in comparison to how Aaron has been handling love triangles in the coming-of-age sitcom. He dubs his character, with whom he shares the same last name, as "a little bit more mature" than himself when it comes to cutting people off and giving them chances to prove themselves worthy of his time again.
Thankfully, as Trevor has gotten older and we've seen him grow into the handsome triple threat that he is today, he has taken note of his own growth. "Obviously, you turn 9, 10, 15 or 25 and those things don't matter, and it's the same thing with relationships. You put so much pressure, but it's only because of the knowledge you have at that moment but you'll continuously gain more knowledge."
"You'll continuously evolve and realize things aren't as important and other things are more important that you didn't think mattered at all. Just be open, be aware, and you'll be all right."
DATING TREVOR JACKSON: WHAT HE WANTS IN A WOMAN
Photo Credit: Derek Bahn
Don't be fake.
"Don't do things because you think that's how you're supposed to be doing them, you know? I've had these conversations and it's like they're being who they've seen in a movie or how you think the character should be. Do you really feel like that? Because I don't think you really feel like that. I think you're trying to be perceived - and perceived by whom - about how you look or coming off. If I'm the person in front of you telling you that, what would that matter? If they want to come off a certain way, that's a pet peeve."
Break down your walls.
"Stop trying to put things over [who you are] to make some picture that you think the person will like because when it's time to take makeup off and lay down in the bed, you don't know who to be because you've put on this [persona] for so long. Put down the walls and someone doesn't fit that, they don't fit that. Don't try to force that."
Be a good person.
"You've got to be a nice person. I'm really keen on how you treat kids, how you treat people you don't know. We can all see someone super attractive and say, 'I'd love to have them,' or whatever, and that moment passes and you're there laying in bed with someone and you're like, 'But are they cool though?' Are they there? How do they treat other people? Are they nice? Are they kind to other people? It's about pulling back the layers."
Put your phone down.
"You can't be on your phone all the time - I don't like that at all."
Appeal to his funny and adventurous side.
"You've got to be funny, adventurous, you can't be stuck in your ways, and you gotta be excited about life. You've got to be willing to be a dork. A turn-on is when the most exciting day to you is going swimming in the ocean to find a treasure chest or something. I'm that type of guy."
Know that his presence is a present.
"I don't care about things. I'll let anyone know now that I don't buy anything. That's not the relationship I'm going to curate with my person. We give and we receive, but we don't need the actual things. It's your time, your words - these things matter. If those things come, those things come but it shouldn't be something that's asked for."
*Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Featured images courtesy of SJ Public Relations
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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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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Featured image by James Devaney/GC Images