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Trevor Jackson Talks Love Being Absolute & What He Wants In A Woman

"Love is one thing that will always be true."

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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."

Drops mic.

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."

For more Trevor Jackson, follow him on Instagram, purchase his merch and catch him on the mid-season premiere of Grown-ish on Freeform January 21. Stream "Just Friends" on all platforms.

*Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Featured images courtesy of SJ Public Relations

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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