'Bigger' Star Tristen J. Winger On Self-Care & Being A True Believer In Black Love

"Social media may make it seem like it is difficult to achieve true black love, but I am not going to believe it."


I don't know about y'all, but I love having girl talk. Me and my girls can kiki about life, sip our wine, and hype each other up about what's coming up next in our lives. However, something that I love a tiny bit more than girl talk, is having guy talk. Don't kill me y'all but I just think it is so refreshing and important to get a guy's perspective on love/relationships. It also keeps me in check sometimes when I am overthinking a situation. In fact, I was talking to one of my guy friends a few weeks ago about the topic of black love.

We talked about the dynamic of black men and women and what may be the best way to show up for black women and vice versa. His thoughts were that it is challenging for him to show up for black women, if there are high expectations on how a black man should be. He also explained that while black men know how to be in relationships, the idea of how a relationship should be has been warped into so many different things. While I can understand my friend's point of view on this, I couldn't help but think about how I prioritize love in my daily life and if asked the question, "How would I want my future partner to show up for me?"

Recently, I had a great "guy talk" with actor Tristen J. Winger. Tristen is someone who knows exactly how he likes to show up for black women. Tristen J. Winger, 35, plays the character Vince on the BET+'s Bigger series.

Courtesy of Carlos Nunez

Executive produced by Will Packer, Bigger is a comedy series that takes a deeper look at the stagnant lives of Layne Roberts and her circle of friends as they strive for something bigger and better in all aspects of life. While chatting with Tristen, who plays he was able to give me the truth about his thoughts on black love.

He is a true advocate for uplifting and supporting black women in all spaces and is a believer in keeping the idea of black love in a positive light. Here's what the star had to say.

xoNecole: Do you feel that your character Vince on the series 'Bigger' relates to who you are in real life?

Tristen J. Winger: I believe he does in many ways. Especially, when we find out more about Vince in the second season. Being pushed to pursue one career, but having a passion to be a creative resonates with me. I graduated from high school early and I went to college for Mechanical Engineering. I really love science. My mom would put me in science camps when I was younger and I really enjoyed it.

However, the creative side of me overpowered that. Throughout high school, I was in Performance Arts and I played music. So, when I got to college I was introduced to this music software by a good friend of mine. I was excited that I was able to make music and not do math all day in my other courses (laughs). I knew my mom wanted me to go down this one path, but I chose to follow my passion in being a creative.

xoNecole: Because you relate to Vince's journey in following his passion in music, what advice do you have for other people who want to follow their passion instead of what is expected of them?

Tristen: Always go with your gut. Every time. At the end of the day, we are living this life for us. That's not to say to forget about everyone else. But ultimately, we are the ones who have to live with our decisions. So make decisions that make you happy in the end. Instead of living with regret or having the "what if" in the back of your mind.

xoNecole: What has your professional acting career taught you about dating/romantic relationships?

Tristen: I will say that since acting is about listening and reading between the lines, you have to do the same thing in romantic relationships. You can't just listen to the other person to respond. You have to listen to understand where the other person is coming from and learn from them. We can live this life on our own if we choose to, but if we choose to live a life with a partner, there must be understanding and togetherness.

"We can live this life on our own if we choose to, but if we choose to live a life with a partner, there must be understanding and togetherness."

Courtesy of Carlos Nunez

xoNecole: In today's society, do you feel that there is a misconception between black men and black women when it comes to the #relationshipgoals?

Tristen: Looking at social media really confuses me sometimes (laughs). Like why are y'all complaining about $100 dinner dates? (Laughs) That should not be the basis of a relationship. It does seem like nowadays black men and black women are at odds when it comes to relationships. But every day I still see examples of beautiful relationships. I know what black love looks like and while social media may make it seem like it is difficult to achieve true black love, I am not going to believe it.

xoNecole: What do you think are the two key things for a successful relationship?

Tristen: I think empathy but more so, being able to support one another. If you and your partner are a team, the goal should be to win together. In order to win, we have to challenge each other too. You can have a lot of moments that are comfortable and full of ease. But the question is, how are we going to take each other to the next level? So being supportive is key.

"If you and your partner are a team, the goal should be to win together. In order to win, we have to challenge each other too."

xoNecole: You show that you are a huge advocate for black women on social media, how do you like to show up and support black women in romantic relationships?

Tristen: It honestly looks different for different women. Showing up could literally mean showing up and supporting her. Showing up can look like giving gifts or writing poetry. Showing up could even look like listening to her as she vents. You have to find out what her love language is. All of the languages mean something, but each one has a different weight to them.

xoNecole: I am so glad you touched on love languages, because you are absolutely right! So, inquiring minds would like to know.. What is your love language?

Tristen: My top love language is words of affirmation. I think that comes from my childhood. Recognition feels good to me. I remember when I was in elementary school, I would always get perfect attendance awards. Or when I would get A's on my spelling test, it was the recognition from the teacher's that I sought out for. There are times even now, where I wonder if I am doing a good job. So in dating, those words of affirmation are important to me.

Courtesy of Carlos Nunez

xoNecole: Do you think self-care is important in a relationship? If so, how do you practice self-care for yourself?

Tristen: There are times where I just want to be alone. I don't have to be doing anything specific. I just need that time to myself. I won't and shouldn't feel bad for wanting to spend time with myself (laughs). I am willing to do whatever it takes to recenter myself and ground myself, whether I am in a relationship or not. We give so much to the world, so we have to remember to give back to ourselves.

xoNecole: What is an important lesson you have learned from previous relationships that you will apply in your next relationship?

Tristen: An important lesson for me is how to show up for myself while I am in a relationship. Being raised by a single mom, I used to pour everything I had into my relationships. With doing that, I ended up forgetting what Tristen wanted. So now, I will always speak up for myself in how I like my partner to show up for me.

xoNecole: What are some relationship green flags that you look for when it comes to dating?

Tristen: The first thing that comes to mind is a sense of humor. I love to laugh. If a woman can quote Back to the Future or The Nutty Professor line by line, I'm sold (laughs). I also like a woman who is adventurous and likes music too. Someone who isn't judgemental and is a free-spirit [and] open-minded. These are all great qualities I look for.

xoNecole: If you could curate a love playlist for your future partner, what would be the top 3 songs and why?

Tristen: The first song would be "Can We Talk" by Tevin Campbell. The next song would be "Take It From Here" by Justin Timberlake, produced by The Neptunes. The third song would be "At Your Best" by The Isley Brothers. For "At Your Best," it sounds like he is talking to someone specifically. So when you are creating a playlist for someone, you need that specificity. So I chose all these songs because when I hear the words and I listen to the music, I feel all of it.

I remember in Justin's "Take It From Here" he says, "I wanna be your lake or your bay. And any problems that you have, I want to wash them away." I just want to wash away your problems girl! (Laughs) I just want to wash them away (smiles).

For more of Tristen, follow him on Instagram.

Featured image by Carlos Nunez

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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