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For the leading fellas of Freeform’s college comedy-drama, grown-ish, graduation season is quickly approaching, forcing Aaron (Trevor Jackson), Doug (Diggy Simmons), Vivek (Jordan Buhat), and Luca (Luka Sabbat) to come to grips with what life after Cal-U will have in store. As the beaus find themselves crossed between self-induced drama and campus tea, the forthcoming season will bring the cohort of lads closer to the reality of the end of one chapter and the start of something new.
Through the ups and downs of managing hook-ups, mending broken hearts — and a few egos, while discovering who they are as Gen Z figureheads, their stories each paint, in broad strokes, the sort of illustration that arch the boyish behaviors of an adolescent, with the real-life decisions that most guys come face to face with as they cross over into manhood.
For Trevor Jackson, his radical, pro-Black portrayal of Aaron continues the second half of season 4 having to come to grips with the aftermath of a luau party that turned ugly, where he and Luca (Luka Sabbat) got Lei-ed and caught a fade. With emotions and testosterone levels high, it’s not always easy to see things clearly, so fans will be pleased to unpack how each character manages conflict when choosing the high road isn’t always the easiest choice.
As the grown-ish actor reflects on his character's progression, Trevor shares his sentiments on what it’s been like to play a character who’s actively exploring his vulnerabilities through introspection. “I think it’s awesome, I think it’s true, and I think it’s honest.” With that, Jackson meditates on just how much his own journey of self-discovery as a young Black man, mirrors that of his on-screen persona. “I think I’ve definitely experienced similar situations as Aaron — you kind of know what you want to do from a young age, but then you just start dealing with being human and realizing that at [some] point what you wanted might change, and who you are might change,” he tells xoNecole.
"You kind of know what you want to do from a young age, but then you just start dealing with being human and realizing that at some point what you wanted might change, and who you are might change."
As seen in the trailer for season 4B teases, Aaron’s successes as a socially-involved TA are opening doors that could put distance between him and his love interest, Zoey (Yara Shahidi). Although it’s not always easy to step into something new when what you’ve known lies within your comfort zone, Trevor tells xoNecole how the toughest choices can lead to the greatest growth. “[When] you’re younger, decisions were made for you but when everything lies on your shoulders, and you’re responsible for your own life, it definitely hits home a litter harder.”
As much as college can serve as a test drive to pre-adulthood, there are some matters of the heart that you want to learn and grow from before the pressures of real adulthood kick in. For the charming and mildly-toxic Doug, played by Diggy Simmons, balancing friendships and a new flame, while attempting to keep things cordial between his ex, Jazz (Chloe Bailey) in the show, brings up the question of what it takes to prioritize your relationship so that all parties, including yourself, are considered.
Still, as Simmons shares, “You have to put yourself first, especially coming out of a relationship.”
He continues, “All of us do that - we have the old saying of, 'I gotta focus on myself,’ but that’s a true thing.” Being that he’s had practice with this balancing act through his character, Doug, it comes from a place of deposited wisdom when he shared how setting parameters around your relationships can ensure the best possible results for you, and all parties involved.
Diggy tells xoNecole, “I think when cultivating a new relationship, that isn’t so committed yet or doesn’t have a title, you have to create your own boundaries that you're comfortable with and see if that person is comfortable with those same boundaries that you hold for yourself.”
Watch new episodes of grown-ish on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform and the next day on Hulu.
Featured image by Freeform/Jabari Jacobs
Lori Harvey’s foray into modeling might not be what you think. While she models sexy fits on Instagram, she isn’t what you would call an Instagram model. If you look at her resume, you will see that she has walked runways for luxury brands such as Dolce and Gabbana and has been featured in campaigns for Chanel and most recently Burberry. At 5’3'' with a curvy frame, Lori isn’t your traditional model, and she dealt with body insecurities when she first entered the fashion industry.
Lori made her runway debut when she was 20 years old. "When I started modeling, I felt like I had to get super skinny because I wasn't tall. I'm naturally more curvy, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain size and look a certain way. It took such a toll on me mentally."
Prior to pursuing modeling as a full-time career, the 25-year-old was a competitive equestrian. However, her dream of turning pro was shot after she suffered a major sports injury that if she continued with it, could have left her paralyzed.
"That was a life-shattering moment for me," she said. "I had this plan in my mind for so long that this is going to be my life, this is going to be my career. I felt a little lost trying to figure out, 'OK, what am I going to do now?'"
Pivoting into modeling has proven successful for her and now she is working to become a businesswoman. She launched a skincare line and she is hoping to create other businesses. Despite the early bouts of self-doubt, these days, Lori is feeling more at home in the woman she is than ever before.
Keep scrolling to learn more about how the model-turned entrepreneur takes care of herself inside and out.
Lori Harvey Starts Her Mornings With Celery Juice
While most of us opt for coffee first thing in the a.m., Lori swears by a daily dose of celery juice on an empty stomach. In an interview with The Strategist, she revealed:
"I drink celery juice first thing in the morning, every single morning. I’ve been doing it for at least three years. One of my trainers swore by it and got me hooked. It’s great for digestion and inflammation and is a good source of antioxidants. If you want a flat tummy, it’s really good for that, too. It tastes like a very healthy green juice — not the best taste, but you get used to it after a while and the results are worth it."
Her favorite is from Kreation, a company based in L.A. She also chases the celery juice down with a Vitamin C shot from the same place. She told NYLON, "I think that really jump starts my digestive system and it’s good for my skin as well."
Lori's Workout Routine Includes Pilates
If you ever catch a glimpse of Lori outside of social media, nine times out of ten, it's her leaving a Pilates class. She shared with Pretty Little Thing that she typically switches up her daily workouts between cardio and strength training during her week and "maybe incorporate a Pilates class or two in there." She has also mentioned hiking as another go-to for fitness and as a stress-reliever.
She continued about her workouts, "I start off with a five-minute warmup, then I'll usually do a few circuits of strength training, either lower or upper body depending on what day it is and I always finish with ab work."
A Regular Visit to the Sauna Is a Must in Lori Harvey’s Wellness Routine
After her Pilates class, Lori prefers to soak up some heat and steam courtesy of a 30-minute visit to the sauna. She explained, "The sauna is also really, really good for your skin and it's very therapeutic, and then I shower. I typically try to get in the sauna after I work out every day for at least 30 minutes. It helps me relax. I like to gather my thoughts in the sauna."
Lori Attributes Hair Growth to a $40 Hair Oil
For her signature mane, one of her go-to's for growth and maintenance is the No.5 Rosemary + Mint Hair Growth Oil by The Hair Kitchen. The founder and CEO explained, "I try to use it for like, two, three days before a wash day and really oil my scalp up. My hair falls below the middle of my back now — it grew in a matter of months. The oil has rosemary in it, which is good for hair growth, and peppermint, which makes your scalp feel fresh and tingly."
Lori Harvey’s Skincare Routine Is SKN by LH
Not surprisingly, Lori attributes her immaculate skin to her uber-successful skincare line, SKN by LH. She broke down her routine to NYLON, "My daily skincare routine consists of my Goji Berry Cleanser, White Tea Toner, Vitamin C Serum, the Peptide Eye Complex, and Niacinamide Cream– those are all from my line SKN x LH. It's the perfect easy everyday skincare routine."
She added, "I have been embracing not putting on any makeup and just taking care of my skin. It's been so good! It's an overall confidence boost for me when my skin looks good and it's clear."
Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Michael Kors
The ladies of Harlem participated in an exclusive girl chat with xoNecole in Twitter Spaces over the weekend and, while discussing their show, they also shared some deep, inspiring words with us. Meagan Good, Grace Byers, and Shoniqua Shandai each opened up about love and friendships while also revealing some personal experiences that really resonated with the audience. While you can listen to the full conversation here, we also broke down some of the most memorable gems to give you some affirmations that you can take with you wherever you go.
On Their Daily Mantras
“No matter where He takes me, no matter where I go, I am fearfully and I am wonderfully made for the room that I’m in.” - Shoniqua Shandai
“God I am your child. I am dearly loved. I am loved unconditionally. I belong to you God. Jesus, I am your friend. Jesus, I am your bride. God, I am your residence. Greater who is He, who is in the world. I am blameless. I am righteous. I am adequate. I am a new creation. I am never alone.” - Meagan Good
“I will show up as I am and I will love myself there.” - Grace Byers
On Rejection and Disappointment
“You may not have accepted what I brought to the table, but that does not define who I am nor will it define what I’m going to do in another realm after this.” - Grace Byers
“Even in this pain, I know that I’m being propelled forward.” - Shoniqua Shandai
“Rejection is the Lord’s protection." - Meagan Good
On Feeling Safe In Friendships
“Not everybody has to be your best friend. Some people you are just called to be there for, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be there for you.” - Meagan Good
On the Art of Letting Go
“My mind shift of letting go is allowing myself to feel the feelings, but really reminding myself that the priority of letting someone go is choosing myself.” - Shoniqua Shandai
“We’re going in two different paths. I love me. My love is not worthy in the eyes of what you say it is and I know what my love and my worth and my value truly are and because of that, I’mma step away with some grace.” - Grace Byers
“Having faith when things are going well is easy. Having faith when things are crazy and they don’t make sense and you’re confused or whatever it may be, that’s when it really matters and that’s when you get the closest to God.” - Meagan Good
“For Black people, for people of color, all we know is how to hustle ‘cause that’s the world that has been built for us. We hustle, we hustle, we work hard. We always have to go over and beyond, but so much of our humanity, so much of our strength is in our rest and is in our joy.” - Grace Byers.
“Our introduction to this land was violent. We have been whipped into shape and that mentality is so harmful to ourselves and to our minds and I just want us to be gentle to ourselves.” - Shoniqua Shandai
“You have to love yourself otherwise how is someone else gonna know how to love you fully.” - Meagan Good
Featured image by Hatnim Lee/WireImage/Getty Images
If you don’t know actress Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, it’s time to get to know her.
The breakout star of Mindy Kaling’s new HBO comedy series The Sex Lives of College Girls, Lolo plays Jocelyn, a fiery scene-stealer whose unapologetic nature and uncanny ability to make the audience laugh whenever she appears makes her one of the show’s most memorable characters in a cast of college freshman characters. The series itself is being praised by fans and critics alike for being inclusive, relatable, and real.
“Jocelyn is a lot of who I was in college,” Lolo tells xoNecole of Jocelyn’s seemingly effortless appeal. “She's just very free-spirited and fun, which is also a lot of who I am today. But, she is a little bit more of an asshole than I am. She’s a little shady, which I like!”
It’s hard to believe this is only Lolo’s second role as an actress. In 2019, she starred in the independent film Give Me Liberty, earning a Spirit Awards nomination for the role and competing with Octavia Spencer and Jennifer Lopez for Best Supporting Actress.
Courtesy of Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
But Lolo’s road to award-nominated actress and premium TV series regular wasn’t easy.
At 14, she was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive disease with a survival rate averaging around five years. The star went on to graduate high school, earn a bachelor’s degree in video editing and begin a career in marketing and distribution before she turned to Hollywood.
But Lolo, now 30-something, never felt comfortable knowing her career was in someone else’s hands. “As a person with a disability, employment is incredibly hard to find. If I’m not mistaken, less than two percent of the job market are people on record saying that they have disabilities," she says. "I just didn’t like the feeling of someone being in control of my livelihood because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find another job.” She decided to launch her own YouTube channel and lifestyle brand, Sitting Pretty, where she shared her journey with ALS as well as her work, friendships, and dating life.
Courtesy of Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
“I’ve always been positive but creating content helped,” she says. “Talking about it meant no one could use it against me. It meant being OK in my vulnerability. Owning my vulnerability and knowing that I’m constantly supported by my loved ones helps with my confidence, but I still have insecurities.”
Sharing her truth has been impacting generations. “I get a lot of comments from parents who have children with disabilities who thank me for the content and hope that their children have that amount of confidence.”
One of the things Lolo makes crystal clear is that she hates when others see just her physical disability and not her humanity. She shares that she was at a party getting a little turnt with her friends when a guy came over to “applaud her for being brave" when she was simply living her best life. Talk about a buzz kill. “The underlying tone of all of it is, ‘you’re not worthy of existence and if I do recognize it, I don’t recognize you as a human. I recognize you as a person who is under a circumstance.’”
Courtesy of Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
Through her film and TV roles, Lolo brings humanity and nuance to her characters that an ableist world often tries to strip away.
"I want roles that are going to be effective and representative of the culture in the ways that I’ve been advocating for,” she shares about her process. She even told her agent that she didn't want roles in medical shows that are going to feel ableist, or content that is rooted in disabled people providing inspiration for non-disabled people as a way to feel better about themselves.
“It’s challenging because when you do that, you shrink the auditions you could get, but because I’m strategic, I’ve had a lot of success."
When we move to the topic of dating, Lolo keeps it very real, talking about the challenges. She had a “pandemic boo” who stressed her out way too much, and she admits that dating's been difficult since.
“People are revering me so much that they’re neglecting that I’m a woman. It’s almost this superhero admiration. You don’t have to take me to Nobu on our first date. Like, I’m still a chill girl.” She also admits wishing guys would be more open to a healthy conversation. “Like, what if I just wanted to have fun?”
Courtesy of Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
Today, Lolo is much more aware of who she gives her time to, and though she admits to staying off the dating apps, she gives a few helpful pieces of advice for creating online profiles, especially for people with disabilities.
“One of my biggest tips is: If you are a person with a visible disability, show your device or body in your profile photo. That will immediately cut out the people who are just so shallow to not even consider that this is an actual human being that you might actually get along with!” She also advised being funny and fun in your profile caption, showing a variety of photos, and beginning every conversation solely with the goal of getting to know someone.
One day soon, Lolo hopes to star in a rom-com and change the way disabled people in love are portrayed on the big screen. “I love, love, love comedy. With rom-coms, they usually cast leads as people who are to be desired or sought after. We haven't seen that with characters with disabilities. So, I would love for that to be represented, while still being fun and funny.”
Lolo Spencer is just getting started.
To keep up with Lauren "Lolo" Spencer, follow her on Instagram @itslololove, and don’t forget to watch season one ofThe Sex Lives of College Girls, now streaming on HBO Max.
Featured image courtesy of Lauren "Lolo" Spencer
Brooke Obie is xoNecole’s new editor-in-chief, and this sister has the career receipts that prove that she’s set to take the platform to the next level. Let’s start with the proof of real skin in the media game: She is an award-winning journalist, whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Essence, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and many more.
The Hampton University and Mercer University School of Law graduate has served as the co-editor of Roxane Gay’s The Audacity, the deputy director of Refinery29 Unbothered, Ebony.com’s first editor-at-large, and as managing editor for Shadow & Act. She is also a TV and film critic who has a voice and perspective to be reckoned with.
Her smart and thought-provoking film and TV insights and cultural criticism have had a viral allure, which is not surprising. (Just go read her telling commentary on the “zombification” of Whitney Houston, and you’ll see why.) Her critiques have enhanced the cultural conversations of shows and panels including NPR’s 1A Movie Club.
She also took her writing passions further with her debut novel Book of Addis: Cradled Embers, which was honored with the 2018 Accra International Book Festival Awards’ Independent Writer’s Award, the 2017 Phillis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction, and the 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award for self-published Fiction.
“What began as a way to pay my bills while I finished grad school and my debut novel turned into the most fulfilling career I never could’ve imagined for myself,” Brooke said of her start in journalism in an interview with xoNecole.
Courtesy of Brooke Obie
In 2019, she was named one of The Root 100’s most influential African Americans in 2019 for her viral and exclusive interview with the family of Dr. Donald Shirley, “How ‘Green Book’ And the Hollywood Machine Swallowed Donald Shirley Whole." And she has interviewed icons of entertainment and media, from Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Maya Angelou to Ava DuVernay and Aretha Franklin.
Now that's she's adding xoNecole's EIC to her resume, we sat down with Brooke to ask five key questions about her career passions and the impact she expects to have in her new role. The multi-hyphenate gives insight into her hope for all Black millennial women:
1. How did you first find your purpose and passion in journalism?
"I’ve always been a writer and loved storytelling, but it wasn’t until I graduated from law school and began a career crafting other people’s messages and stories that I felt an overwhelming urge to find my own voice and help tell Black women’s stories. I started a blog about my life in D.C., which won a few awards and led to me being a contributor for the newly-launched Ebony.com. My first professional editing job came by chance when I filled in for my editor when she went on maternity leave and I’ve been an editor, writing and helping other Black writers craft their stories ever since!"
2. What do you wish to accomplish during your xoNecole tenure?
"My goal is to build upon the legacy of sisterhood and community Necole Kane and the xoNecole team have diligently created. I’m blessed to be among such phenomenal Black women and I want to continue to cultivate an environment where our audience and our internal team feel seen, heard, and empowered."
3. We talk a lot about self-care and work-life balance. How do you create that for yourself?
"I have a hard stop time every day and I reserve my weekends for myself and my personal projects. I respect other people’s work-life balance as well and make sure to schedule emails instead of sending them during times when I know people are offline. I also schedule breaks in between meetings so I can decompress. Prioritizing outdoor time is also huge for me. I hike on the weekends and jog or walk during the week to make sure I’m getting vitamin D. And I am in daily contact with the people I love and who love me.
"I believe in Audre Lorde’s definition of self-care as a community effort that works when we can all experience rest and take care of ourselves. I’m always looking for ways we as a community can help shoulder each other’s burdens so we can all be well."
4. How has where you've been in your career led you to where you are now?
"I’ve had many different careers and have worn many different hats over the years, but the one constant in all of them is storytelling. I started off in journalism as a freelance contributor and have worked every journalism job on the way to editor-in-chief. But what I believe led me here is beyond journalism skill and experience. My heart is for Black people and our stories—one of the most powerful tools we possess for our liberation. I’ve been so blessed to spend my career in Black media, amplifying our stories, cultivating emerging writers, and providing space for us to be challenged, to grow and expand in our imagining of what’s possible."
5. What do you think is missing in this space for Black women, and how do you seek to fill that gap?
"The beautiful thing about a community of Black women is how diverse we are. I want to create more spaces for Black women across the Diaspora, across sexualities, across sizes and shades, and beyond the binary to share their stories and experiences. I’m excited to create content and curate experiences for us to all learn from each other, understand each other better and grow together.
"More than anything, I want Black millennial women to be free and well. I hope that we seek out ways to get free and to free each other; to be well and lead each other to wellness; to love each other and love ourselves, every day. We deserve it all."
Featured image courtesy of Brooke Obie