If you’re tapped in at all to the culture’s current movies and TV shows, then there’s no way you’re unfamiliar with Woody McClain. The breakout talent started as a content creator on Vine known as “Woody the Great” and a background dancer who toured with Chris Brown, and now he’s killing the acting game. He gave us such a genuine and human glimpse into the emotional and triumphant world of Bobby Brown in BET’s The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story.
And now, a lot of us tune in every week to see him play the ruthless but alluring Cane Tejada on Starz’s Power Book II: Ghost. These roles were both so major that I wasn’t sure what to expect when he hopped on Zoom. But after a few exchanges, I realized that not only was he super humble and down to earth, but this was going to be a fun experience.
We started the interview by chatting about our mutual love for music and marching bands. Random fact, he played the tuba in high school and college and credits the experience for his level of discipline. “I had no filter or structure before. I was just running around wild until I got into the band,” Woody says to xoNecole. “Shoutout to Mr. Jenkins, my high school band director, who was like a father figure to a lot of people in our class. Every program I’ve done, from high school band and college band to the dance crew, has been about structure.”
Photo courtesy of Woody McClain
But as a disciplined HBCU man who came from a traditional family and loves his peace, he’s still adjusting to the “celebrity” element of his reality. “I was blessed to work a 9 to 5 until 23. So, I experienced the real world. But once you’re on TV, people don’t see you as a real person,” he explains. “I think that’s where it’s strange for me. Because you can be like at the airport, and someone can come up and grab you, and I’d just never do that. It can get really tricky; I’m still adjusting.”
Although a lot can come with the lifestyle, it’s clear he’s enjoying what he’s doing, and he’s not letting anything get in his way – or anyone. When I asked about his dating life, he was very clear on where he stood. “I love dating my career and my craft. That’s my boo thang,” he says concisely with a smile.
But while he didn’t give xoNecole too many deets on that, it was obvious his love of family is very prevalent in his life. In fact, he shares that trait with his character, Cane. “Cane does everything in the best interest of his family. That’s how I am in real life,” he explains. “I’m trying to make sure my family is okay. That’s the only thing we have in alignment, but of course, he goes over the top.”
Once we jumped into the “Power Universe,” it was only right to get his thoughts on some of the toxicity of the characters we love to hate (IYKYK). This led us to the start of it all and how Woody admired Omari Hardwick’s performance, who played Ghost in the original series. “In my opinion, he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. Without Omari, I don’t think any of the universes would exist right now,” he admits. “He set the bar so high and did such a great job at setting a foundation. Now we’re just trying to build off what he’s created."
"Without Omari, I don’t think any of the universes would exist right now. He set the bar so high and did such a great job at setting a foundation. Now we’re just trying to build off what he’s created."
xoMan Woody McClain Opens Up About Healthy Relationships
But when we returned to the present, I had to be honest and tell him that I constantly side-eye his character Cane and the crazy decisions he makes. But he responded in a very human way, saying, “All he [Cane] knows is broken love. Monae (played by Mary J. Blige) is a horrible mother. Nobody ever talks about the root, and I think that’s very important for a show like this. It's very essential when people have kids to be careful about the information they feed to them because it definitely affects how they are when they’re older.”
He went on to explain that he saw many examples of healthy love from his grandparents and parents. In fact, he’s named after his grandfather and father and plans to keep the tradition going. “My grandfather was a reverend, radio host, and a community activist. He did everything to provide for his eight kids, and I always try to model myself and how I move after him,” he says.
I genuinely enjoyed this conversation because his story is such a clear example of an authentic person putting in the work to create a dream-worthy life. In ten years, he sees himself producing his own film, TV, and music projects and creating opportunities for his friends. At the core, he’s still Woody the Great. He wants to work with his tribe and make people laugh. When he needs to escape the craziness of the industry, he goes bowling with friends, makes investments, produces music (something he’s passionate about), and works on his golf swing (we see you, Black man, smile).
The difference between him and so many others is his intense level of discipline that he continues to hold on to, his natural-born leadership skills – which he feels he’s always had, and his trust in God. “Faith has been a part of the entire journey. I wouldn’t be here without God opening up certain doors for me. Every door led me to where I am right now. I never question anything; I just follow it.”
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Feature image courtesy of Woody McClain
Kirby Carroll grew up in VA but now calls Atlanta, GA home. She has a passion for creating content and helping brands grow through storytelling and public relations. When not immersed in work, you can find her sipping a mimosa at brunch or bingeing a new TV drama on Netflix. Keep up with her on social media at @askKirbyCarroll.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images