Charge it to my daddy when I say that I adore accumulating random bits of information. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to look around to see what movies had anniversaries this year (you know, being that 2000 was the end of a millennium and all; you can verify that it was the end and not the beginning here and here). Anyway, I was already trippin' when I saw that, in 2020, movies like Inception and The Social Network are 10; Crash, Hustle & Flow and The 40-Year-Old Virgin are 15; Love & Basketball, Bring It On and Bamboozled are 20, and Bad Boys, Braveheart, Clueless, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Usual Suspects, Seven, Toy Story and Friday (its official anniversary is actually Sunday, April 26) are all 25. What in the world?!
As I kept going down the rabbit hole of entertainment nostalgia, what caught me totally off guard was the fact that on September 11, 2000, the very first episode of Girlfriends premiered.
Girlfriends. I mean, that fact threw me so much that I actually went to some of the cast member's social media pages, just to make sure that Google wasn't trippin'. It wasn't.
Wow. Just wow. Back in 2000, I was 25 (26, by the time of the actual premiere date). Matter of fact, I didn't even start watching Girlfriends until I was like 28-29. It started out because people would tell me that I reminded them of Toni on the show. Yeah, I didn't believe that either until one day, back when I was on social media, Facebook had a day when we all were supposed to put up our celebrity doppelgänger. I posted a picture of Jill Marie Jones (who played Toni Childs on the show) with short hair. No one noticed that it wasn't me for two weeks (hilarious).
Anyway, that's just one of the many things that makes me smile when I think back to the sitcom that featured four women doing their thing in Los Angeles. Like so many other Black shows, Girlfriends paved the way and set the tone, on so many levels.
Black-ish Season 6 "Girlfriends Reunion" Featurettewww.youtube.com
I remember last year, back when Joan, Mya, Toni and Lynn made an appearance on Black-ish. As they were doing their press tour for it, the cast addressed two questions that a lot of us have had for years. One, no Jill Marie did not fall out with everyone else when she left the show; she simply wanted to move on and that happened to be the season before Girlfriends came to an end.
And two, just like when it came to Living Single (and I want to say the "spin-off" from Girlfriends, The Game as well), they didn't get a proper series finale. The final episode was "Stand and Deliver", where Joan read a letter to her fiancé Aaron's class, letting him know that he was coming home from his stint in Iraq. (Yes, ya'll. The CW totally left us hangin'.)
"People will literally come up to us and say, 'Why don't you guys get on Netflix,' but what they don't realize is we literally have no power over that. We weren't executive producers or showrunners, we were just actresses, so we have no say in none of that."
So that gave me an idea. Rather than wait until the fall to write a piece celebrating the show's 20-year anniversary, I thought it would be a good idea to get this out now. For one thing, it'll give us five months to (hopefully) create a buzz that just might get Netflix (or somebody) to take seriously that, not only is a Girlfriends movie something that we want but it's something that the creator (Mara Brock Akil) and cast truly deserve. And secondly, it gives me the opportunity to do a little dreaming in the meantime about what I think life for the ladies would actually look like right now. Are you ready to brainstorm a bit with me?
Joan Carol Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross)
I'm gonna be honest. A part of me wonders if the writer who created Joan Clayton drew their inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw on Sex & the City. They both were accomplished, they both were one who others went to for advice and they both were pretty erratic and intense; especially when it came to their own matters of the heart. Anyway, anyone who watched even a season of Girlfriends knows that, at the end of the day, what Joan wanted more than anything was a HUSBAND (that's in all caps on purpose) and children. Although I think that my favorite boyfriend of hers was actually Brock (played by Malik Yoba), while the one who I believe brought out the absolute worst in her was Ellis (played by Adrian Lester), I get why she ended up with Aaron (played by Richard T. Jones). One day, I'm gonna write a piece on here about the difference between choosing a man who is good to you vs. choosing a man who is good for you. Brock was probably the former and Aaron was the latter.
That said, in my mind, Aaron did come back and they did get married. Joan had the wedding of her dreams although maturity brought her to a place of wanting to marry the groom more than the actual wedding (if you catch my drift). She did get pregnant and have a child of her own, but she and Aaron also decided to adopt a couple of other kids (not babies but youth).
The house that they renovated, they turned into a home for underprivileged Black youth and with Joan's law degree, she started a non-profit for Black kids as well. Oh, and even though she and Toni did fall out, 20 years brought forth some healing and Toni is actually the godmother to one of Joan's little ones. In fact, all of Joan's girlfriends are.
Mya Denise Wilkes (Golden Brooks)
Mya, boy. First, let's address another question that I always had, that I recently looked up. Some of you might recall that, during the first season, her husband Darnell was actually played by Flex Alexander. Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, fine ass Khalil Kain filled the role. From what I read, Flex left, not due to any bad blood, but because he got a lead role in One on One (I think her son, Jabari might've changed from Tanner Scott Richards to Kendre Berry simply because they needed someone much older in a shorter period of time).
With that out of the way, one of my favorite storylines for Mya was when she had an emotional affair (including a kiss where her lip got bit while she tasted pieces of pickles) with Stan (played by Don Franklin). It ultimately cost Mya her marriage, and also caused her to grow up a bit. Since I'm a marriage life coach whose niche is reconciling divorces, I dig that she and Darnell ended up getting married again and making things work.
By now, I'm thinking that Mya has turned a couple of her books into movies (even though she would probably prefer a one-woman show), she had a baby girl and she's also a grandmother. What? It is 20 years later, which means that Jabari would be what—mid-30s at this point? Darnell runs a franchise auto shop business with Peanut 'n them while Mya has an assistant who is just as sneaky, shady and late to work as she was.
Lynn Ann Searcy (Persia White)
I got my start as a writer by being a house poet at a local venue here in Nashville. So, I was aware of the spoken word artist Saul Williams for a while and was thrilled when he played Lynn's man Savid on the show (fun fact: Saul and Persia were actually married in real life, once upon a time).
Even though Vasco (played by John L. Adams) and Lynn probably had the most endearing relationship, in my mind, she and Savid found their way back to each other once Lynn actually found more than sex to keep her happy—or at least, focused (although I doubt she's married; she probably had a commitment ceremony on a beach in Bali, tatted some rings on her finger and called it a day).
These days, it's not uncommon to see her at Sundance festivals whenever she's not public speaking at universities across the country. And while Lynn still sings, she has finally found the beauty and benefits in not always mooching off of other people. So, she writes more than she performs so that she can collect that publishing check. She does still live in Joan's old house. Only difference is that now, the deed is actually in her name. She's hardly ever in it, though because she's always getting new stamps on her passport. Oh, and she has her own sex toy line. It too is called Indigo Sky (diehard fans will know why I threw the "too" in there).
Antoinette Marie Childress Garrett (Jill Marie Jones)
Toni. Before there was Molly (on Insecure), there was Toni Childs. Both women are chocolate and beautiful. Both women are super accomplished. Both women are fun to be around. And, both women are self-absorbed and semi-petty as all get out. By now, Toni and Dr. Todd Garrett's daughter, Morgan is (wow) in college herself.
Although Toni never saw it coming, she is quite the helicopter mom, and so she actually first moved from New York to Atlanta while Morgan attended her first year at Spelman. But since Toni is now a business consultant, she can pretty much live anywhere. So, she spends time in three places—New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. She and Dr. Garrett peacefully co-parented, but she came to the conclusion a long time ago that marriage isn't really her thing. That doesn't mean she isn't seeing anyone, though.
Believe it or not, for a couple of years, she and my favorite boyfriend of hers, Greg (played by Chuma Gault) got back together; they still rendezvous from time to time. While he's always been the man who has had the most of her heart, for now, Toni enjoys not sharing, spending all of her money with no accountability and spending time with her girlfriends. Being a mom has brought some balance and perspective, so she does anonymously give to others, including to Joan's non-profit every year. She has no intention of ever letting Joan know that, though.
William Jerome Dent (Reggie Hayes)
Who didn't adore William? Now his choices in women were another story. Monica Charles Brooks-Dent (played by Keesha Sharp) couldn't have been more pretentious (I'm thinking that she's now a housewife on a reality series somewhere). Before her, there was the cop, Yvonne Blackwell (played by Cee Cee Michaela) who left him at the altar. Although he and Joan tried to make it work, I thought it was super realistic that the love was there, but the sex was wack. It's a reminder that sometimes platonic love is all that's meant to be between a man and a woman—and that's totally OK.
Yeah, William's love resume had much to be desired (remember when he and Lynn were cutty buddies and then had the nerve to get married? Uh-uh). Bless his heart.
While I secretly wish that he and Donna (played by Jill Scott) got back together, for some reason, I feel like William is still enjoying the bachelor life, even now. He's still a lawyer but he runs his own firm. He's still super tight with his nephew-son (who interns for him during the summertime), and he still has dinner with the girls on a consistent basis. He's actually godfather to one of Joan's children too.
I know. A lot of this sounds super idealistic, but a sistah can dream, can't she? Besides, I don't care how the actual movie script turns out, so long as there is one (le sigh). Either way, on behalf of the entire xoTribe, I just wanted to take out a little time to say—Joan, Mya, Lynn and Toni, we see you, we appreciate you—hell, we still watch you (Tracee, Golden, Persia and Jill Marie, what them syndication checks be lookin' like?!). Here's to 20 years now and the 20 years of more reruns—with prayerfully a movie too—to come! Take a bow. You've earned it.
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Featured image by Black Film
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood