In 2014, Jeremy Meeks' mugshot went viral because, well, because he was sexy. Today, he has a thriving modeling career and is snagging acting roles left and right. And after famously dating an heiress to a fashion empire, he is happily single. The father of two's (yes, he's a Daddy and a Zaddy) gorgeous green eyes and eight-pack have popped up on-screen in a new project, Dutch. The star-studded release features a load of big names and has all the makings of a winner—a dirty drug ring plotline, a juicy urban fiction read for a script, and Lance Gross. "I read the book this film was based on when I was incarcerated. The Dutch trilogy was written by Teri Woods, back in 2003. It's just crazy how it's all come full circle now," he tells xoNecole.
It's safe to say a lot has changed since his humble beginnings as #PrisonBae (or Hot Felon, as some may call him), and to say he is blessed is an understatement. He knows it too. While we were all baking bread in quarantine, Jeremy was counting his blessings while heating up Instagram one thirst trap at time. xoNecole recently got the chance to chat with Jeremy about what's new with his career and his love life. Here's what he had to say:
xoNecole: You got to work alongside Lance Gross who played the lead character, Dutch, which the film is named after. We’re BIG fans of Lance here at xoNecole—how was it being on set together?
Jeremy Meeks: Lance Gross killed it. He is the perfect Dutch. I learned so much from him. You know he taught me a lot of things when it comes to acting and facial expressions. There was an entire incredible cast to learn from on set like Tyrin Turner. I actually wasn't able to be on set with Macy Gray. She's a legend too. That would have been dope. But there's James Hyde, O.T. Genesis, Michael Blackson...there are so many people in this.
Modeling or acting? What direction do you plan to take your career?
Modeling in some sense was just a stepping stone. It was a foot in the door. And then [I thought] how long can I model for? I was looking for longevity in the industry, and I didn't know what that was going to be. When I started acting, I knew instantly. I found a passion, and it feels really good. And so now I'm trying to sponge up every aspect of film that I can. I'm trying to learn how to write, direct and produce.
"Modeling in some sense was just a stepping stone. It was a foot in the door. When I started acting, I knew instantly. I found a passion, and it feels really good."
Was a career in entertainment something you thought you’d ever have?
Not really, I've heard it, numerous times growing up that I could, but in the lifestyle that I was living, that just didn't seem real. I used to see people on TV and think I could do that or hear rappers and think I could rap. I could do anything that anyone can do just as well if not possibly better. I just believe in myself, but I just never thought all of this was possible. Then when the mugshot went viral, I realized all this time I was supposed to be influential in some way. God waited until I was in the right spot mentally to take on this blessing.
It's been years since your mugshot went viral, but how do you navigate the “Prison Bae” thing? Do you respond when folks call you that?
I am so much more than that. but at the same time, I don't take it to heart. It's been a blessing, it's what got me here. So yeah, I respond, I embrace it. But I'm working hard to shed that nickname and just be Jeremy Meeks, a household name. I'm excited about the future. I know soon I'm gonna get that rom-com. [I feel like] that's my lane.
"God waited until I was in the right spot mentally to take on this blessing."
If you had your pick of Hollywood’s leading ladies, who would you want starring alongside you in a rom-com?
It would have to be someone like Meagan Good or Lauren London.
You had a very high-profile relationship spread all over the media in the past—anything you would do differently next time around? What’s your relationship like now with both mothers of your sons?
I would never change anything in my past because everything happens for a reason. My relationship is incredible with both of the mothers of my kids.
The last thing I read about you was that you were single, so how’s singleness treating you?
Incredible. I'm just at a point in my life where I'm very focused. I'm a relationship kind of guy, you know? I've always been. But at this point in my life, I don't want to get pulled in different directions. I just want to focus on my work, my kids, and their future to change that generational wealth gap. I want to create businesses and leave them. I just have a plan and [am] in a different headspace right now.
So you’re not dating, at all?
[I have] friends—very good friends. (Smirks) I'm kind of talking to someone, but we're just friends. We just appreciate each other's energies and each other's conversation.
"I'm just at a point in my life where I'm very focused. I'm a relationship kind of guy, you know? I've always been. But at this point in my life, I don't want to get pulled in different directions."
Best love lesson learned?
To communicate. Communication is everything. If you communicate, no one can get hurt because everything's out in the open. I think that's the key to every relationship. I had trouble communicating in the past and now I just really try to work on things that I know I need to work on because everyone can always improve in some way. So I've been trying to work on my communication.
Best career lesson learned?
To really just take your time and not jump the gun. Do your homework on people and see what they've done and who they've worked with and in this business. Everyone will tell you what you want to hear. It's on you to do due diligence and make sure that all your T's are crossed and your I's are dotted.
At the end of the day, it's business and so you have to make sure everything's professional on your end.
Featured image by Cheryl Fox, courtesy of Jeremy Meeks
The other night one of my girlfriends and I decided to catch up over wine and snacks. We were chatting about work and the new normal and eventually, the conversation shifted to dating and a desire for intimate connection. We discussed the relationships and situationships in our past and reflected on the highs and the lows. But the majority of our conversation was more about us personally, and our time. Some of those past experiences fostered a lot of energy and emotion just for them to simply be topics of conversation today. So, does that mean we wasted our time? Did we put too much of a focus on our goals and not enough on the development of our personal relationships? Don't get me wrong, I don't subscribe to a societal life timeline. However, it's only natural for those feelings to creep in from time to time, especially during the unique period we're in.
And it made me wonder, do men have these thoughts too, or are we alone in these feelings?
That's one of the reasons I was super excited to speak with Houston rapper Slim Thug. Recently, he released a song called "Black Queen", a track where he unapologetically explains his dream girl, which he proudly states is a black woman. Now, when I think of Slim Thug, I think of his features on iconic southern anthems like "Still Tippin" and "Like a Boss". A love song is the last thing I expected to hear from him. But then it dawned on me, just as my feelings and desire for love have changed over time, so could his, and sometimes the best way to release these emotions is through art and healthy dialogue. This is why Thursday evening, after a bit of Zoom drama and a save-the-day conference call line, we had a very transparent discussion.
In our chat, we talked about his new single "Black Queen", thoughts on dating and relationships, and why it's important to make your intentions clear. And I quickly learned, women are not alone in these feelings.
xoNecole: First, can you tell me about your song "Black Queen". What inspired you to create it?
Slim Thug: I was on Instagram Live playing the beat and I was trying to figure out what I wanted the subject of the song to be. A woman responded, and told me I should talk about my black queens. So, I got right offline and made it, it took me about an hour to create it. I just described my dream woman. "Black Queen" is basically a bio for my dating profile, it's what I'm looking for (laughs).
I like the song a lot, but I love that you referred to her as a Queen. Why do you think it's important to uplift Black women during this time?
If she's gonna be with a King, she's gotta be a Queen. And it's important to big salute our black women because they need love with all the hate that comes with being a Black Queen in America.
Speaking of time, a lot of women feel pressure to settle down and build a family by a certain age. What are your thoughts on this and do you ever feel that pressure as well?
I think when some women start thinking of having kids, they start to feel that pressure. Me as a man, I've been single most of my life. Now I'm 40, and I have been thinking, 'Am I gonna be single forever, or am I gonna have a family and have some type of legacy to leave behind for kids and grandkids?' That's where I am in life. I wouldn't run from love if I found it but at the same time, I'm happy where I am, being single. But if I found the right person I would give it a shot.
Interesting, why do you think you’ve been single for most of your life?
Because I'm so engulfed in what I do and my work. It's hard for me to even hold down a real relationship. And when you're a rapper and your job is not planned like a 9 to 5, it's hard to connect with other people because life can be so random. Then a lot of women may not believe you actually have to work when you set your schedule.
Also, being single isn't too bad in Houston (laughs), there's a lot of beautiful women out here. But after that, what? It's cool for a little bit but then you start feeling like you're wasting your years. I don't wanna keep wasting two years here or three years there either. I want to find a woman that when we go on trips, we can talk about it when we're 60. I think everybody wants that.
"There's a lot of beautiful women out here. But after that, what? It's cool for a little bit but then you start feeling like you're wasting your years. I don't wanna keep wasting two years here or three years there either. I want to find a woman that when we go on trips, we can talk about it when we're 60. I think everybody wants that."
Courtesy of Slim Thug
We’re talking a lot about relationships. But what about simply dating and getting to know someone. From a man’s perspective, if you could give a piece of advice to women looking for love, what would it be?
I don't think women give enough opportunity. A lot of them are on guard from people who approach them on the regular. Don't shut people down so fast. A lot of time women don't give men outside their type a chance. Just thinking outside of the box and not being so quick to shut people down can help. If there's one thing you don't like, you may be able to figure it out. You aren't gonna get 100 percent, but if you can get enough out of one person, you can work it out with them.
Now I’ve gotta tell you when listening to past interviews, I've heard you tell some crazy dating stories. I think I even heard a story about you dating a mom and daughter once. How have your views on dating and relationships changed over time?
That's part of why I'm single, because of how my lifestyle was and the things I've seen and done with girlfriends and married women. It scares you, you think it's cool or player at the time, but it makes you have trust issues in the long run. That's what had me for a lot of my life and that's what probably still bothers me today, it's hard for me to trust people. It takes me a long time. I'm not the guy that's gonna jump into a relationship. We have to get to know each other and I know that takes time.
Is that another problem? Do you feel like a lot of women have pushed too quickly for ownership and monogamy?
Not really, I've dealt with women who have been patient with me honestly and we've had great times. It's been a small issue, but I don't think that's the biggest problem in my dating life. If you want to be that woman, I'm gonna expect a lot from you. A lot of my time and years went to temporary stuff. It was a relationship and it was cool but it never went further than that.
I’m sure a lot of women aren’t comfortable with you being a rapper because of the lifestyle that can come with it. We hear about side chicks, multiple women, etc. What inner work did you have to do to unlearn some of these unhealthy traits you might have had in the past when approaching love and relationships?
In the beginning, a lot of that stuff is part of being a rapper, that lifestyle and world. But as you get older, you become more real and realize what you want and what you don't want. At 40, I like different things. At the end of the day, I still had a great time regardless of the expectation. And I can stay single and do whatever I want, but I do want to find that dream black queen, a woman who brings something to the table, my missing pieces, someone who will help me be a better man.
"As you get older, you become more real and realize what you want and what you don't want. At 40, I like different things. And I can stay single and do whatever I want, but I do want to find that dream black queen, a woman who brings something to the table, my missing pieces, someone who will help me be a better man."
Courtesy of Slim Thug
So, we have to find her for you! Do you prefer to meet people online or in-person, why or why not?
Online is still new to me. I have been catfished and I have slid in a few DMs. I tried the internet wave and it ain't all bad but social media doesn't paint the whole picture of a person. It doesn't matter to me how we meet, as long as it's real.
Well, I know you don’t mind shooting your shot because we've all seen you playfully slide in Megan Thee Stallion's comments a few times. But what are your views on women DM sliding, and what made you comment on Megan’s post?
I don't see anything wrong with it, let people know what you're thinking. I rather say what's on my mind and you know than never know. It's worked for me a lot of times in my life. And with Megan Thee Stallion, I was just trolling. Well, not trolling, because she's super fine and from Houston, so I definitely watch her (laughs). But when I first heard of her and was getting on to who she was, the word on the street was that she had a boyfriend so I was always kinda joking. But now I see she's in a relationship with Pardi, I think I should have shot my shot for real. I'm playing but I'm serious (laughs).
Well, having known more than you did in the past, and with all your unique experiences, what do you think are the keys to a healthy, loving relationship?
Trust, loyalty, and being a best friend. I want to enjoy spending time with this woman. I want to want to take her places with me. It can't feel like community service. A lot of people settle for different reasons, like children by the person or finances. Whatever I do it has to be real, she has to be my best friend and that's what it is.
So, you don't see yourself settling at all?
I'm not gonna say I wouldn't sacrifice. In a relationship, you're never gonna get everything you want so in that sense I can't say I won't settle, but I do truly want a Black Queen.
You can check out "Black Queen" on all music streaming platforms and follow Slim's candid and entertaining commentary on social media @SlimThug.
Featured image courtesy of Slim Thug
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."
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."
*Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Featured images courtesy of SJ Public Relations
At first glance, Corey Calliet may come off as a bit intimidating. With a beautiful smile complementing his chiseled frame, the modern-day Adonis, who ironically trained Michael B. Jordan for his role as Adonis in the Creed series, has a well-deserved reputation for building the bodies of some of your favorite Hollywood celebrities.
But the vision the self-proclaimed body architect has for his career doesn't end in the gym or on the red carpet. In addition to training some of the top stars in Hollywood, he has his own apparel company (Levelz), is a featured trainer on Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian, and has more recently caught the acting bug.
Despite having an impressive resume, it's the trainer's rags-to-riches story that has us begging for more. Growing up between New Orleans and Baton Rouge was no easy feat for Calliet. After losing his mother at the age of four, he was shuffled between his sister and grandmother before finally settling with his aunt and uncle in a crowded home. Enticed by the street life, Calliet learned the art of the hustle that eventually carried him into a successful career.
But he didn't leave home without picking up a few relationship gems from the women who raised him. "We saw love where no matter what you were going through, you weren't going to give up. No matter how bad the situation was, no matter how hurtful, they never quit."
While he may rock sweatshirts that say he's "emotionally unavailable", we can't help but to sneak a peek into this Cancer's emotional side, and dare we say that we like it. As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover, so we're taking a dive between the sheets of this open book to find out his thoughts on love, why he's not looking for an independent woman, and his biggest fear in a relationship.
Necole: Your life sounds very busy. How do you keep the fire going when you are in a relationship?
Corey Calliet: It takes a very special woman, and I'm single right now, so I haven't mastered it. Every time I get into something serious, I get better, and it's hard because you can't give the love that you want because we know that love is patient, love is kind, love is all of these things. I can't give that to a person all the time. So, it's hard and to be honest with you, I haven't found that woman that can understand what I got going on.
You get up and train early every day. If you were with someone, how does she fit into your mornings?
When I'm with a woman, she comes first.
When I wake up, I have to make sure she's okay. Is there anything I can do before I get my day started? Anything I could do to make you comfortable? If she's hungry, I need to get breakfast. I need to make sure that everything is taken care of with her first because she's laying next to me, and this is my girlfriend now, this is not some random situation. This is somebody I take care of, somebody I want to be with. So I make sure she has the things that she needs and then I carry on to take care of what I need to take care of myself.
What are some important qualities that you look for in a woman?
Maybe this is wrong, but I don't need the most independent type woman. We have a generation of women that are coming up and saying, "I don't need you for nothing." I need a woman that's caring, that's nurturing. I need a woman that loves God. She doesn't have to be super successful, just be passionate about what you do. Love what you do. Love yourself. I need a woman, not to just love me, but to like me because if you notice, a lot of people love each other, but they don't like each other. I want a woman that will love my daughter as if she has hers. I want a woman that's strong. A woman that could have my back.
I feel like a woman could bring substance into my life. She could be my foundation. She could recharge me when I need it and we recharge each other.
My thing is, I didn't have a mom. So, I don't know what that's like. So, I don't look for a mother in every woman, but I look for her to have motherly qualities, especially if we plan on having kids. I'm already successful. I probably could help make her life even better. Just support her and build her up.
Sometimes, people want the person they're going to end up with to make a certain amount or at least be financially well-off, and some people don't care. Where are you on that?
I'm not going to say I don't care, but bring something to the table. I'm going to give the analogy of, if I bring a plate, the spoon, the fork, at least just bring the glass. That's it. Just bring the drink. I got everything else.
Looking back on your most recent relationship, if you could name one thing you would have done differently, what would it be?
I would have paid attention a little more. A lot of times we assume and do stuff that we shouldn't do because we didn't pay attention. I would have paid attention, and she would've been able to understand me because I wouldn't have got it wrong all the time. If I paid more attention, I would have known that I was going down the wrong road, and I would have seen the signs.
If I had a meeting with one of your exes, and I said tell me one thing I should know about Corey, what would she say?
He's emotional. [laughs]. 100%. She'd say, don't let that hard rock fool you. Don't let his tone fool you. Love him, and tell him that. Let him hear it, and he will give you everything you want. Nobody has been able to do that.
What is your love language?
My first love language is words of affirmation. I want you to be able to look me in my eyes and tell me how much you love me, and how much you care about me. I want to hear it.
To be honest, sometimes the words, "I love you," "I care for you," "I need you," and "I want you" – hearing those words are better than sex.
When you are personally going through something, and your partner has to stand in the fire with you, how would you like for her to support you?
I remember I used to date someone and she'd always say, "I don't have as much as you have. I don't have this. I don't have that." And I told her, "Take away all the accolades in the world and just give me you."
What happens is when I'm going through a place, I don't need nothing that you come with, I need YOU because those things will not last forever. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, be there. Be my person that says, "You know what? No matter what, I got you. It's okay. We're going to get through this."
Do you have a fear of abandonment?
Yeah, to being rejected and shut out. That hurts. That was one of the issues in my past relationship before I moved to LA. She would shut me out at the drop of a dime. She would just cut me off. She lived almost 40 steps away from me, and she would just drop me. Don't answer the phone. Don't answer the door. Don't answer my texts. Don't do nothing. Just cut me out, and I believe that that takes a special type of mean person to just cut a person out completely, and then drag them back in when they feel like it. Like tell me, "I need time. I need space, but I'm letting you know I need this. I will be back, but I just need this."
Don't just cut me off. That's one of my reasons of being afraid of letting people in too close, but I can't help but to let them in 'cause that type of person I am.
So if there's a disagreement, who apologizes first?
Me. I'm going to apologize first unless you beat me to it. I have the gift of seeing things both ways. I take a step back and understand where you are coming from and why you may not have understood my point, and I will apologize for my actions and my wrongs. I will apologize even if I'm right just to get you to open up, and tell me why you handled things like you did, and what was going on.
Is sex an important part of the relationship?
Sex is very important, but don't overthink it. Sex shouldn't become something we have to do like a time schedule. Sex is about two people wanting each other. When I get married, sex is important, but I'm not going to put a strain on it, like, do we have to have sex every single day? Hell, no.
Your daughter is getting to that age (13) where boys are going to be interested soon. How are you preparing her for that? You got to get your shotgun ready?
I talk to my daughter all of the time. I think the best situation is being able to have an open relationship with the child. Me and Cammy have real conversations like she's almost my age, which is the great thing because we have such a close bond since she was a little girl, and having that open relationship and being able to talk, I think that's how I'm able to prepare her for what's going on. I don't hide nothing from her. I'll let her know what's going on because I need to let her know now so that she can be prepared for it in the future.
When you're dating someone, what's the prerequisite for who gets to meet your daughter?
Most of the time that she's with me, she meets who I have in my life, but Cammy has this thing where she says, "I'm not getting attached to anybody." She experienced something with my last big relationship with my ex-girlfriend. When we stopped talking, my ex cut her off too, and my girlfriend was like a stepmom to her. She told me she'll never get close to no one again.
For more of Corey, follow him on Instagram.
Featured image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com
Originally published on March 4, 2019
What does it take to find the love you want? To attract the love you want, to make the love you truly want to experience in this lifetime? Well, former Bachelorette star Mike Johnson says it starts with doing the inner work FIRST. And by inner work, he means rewriting and reflecting on the internal stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and using them as a springboard to attract the life and love that we deserve. And if you need help tapping into that side of yourself, look no further than his debut book, aptly entitled Making the Love You Want.
In it, the Texas native provides a toolbox for all those looking to genuinely level up their lives from the inside out through the practice of self-love. "I just want it to be a vessel that can help people with the issues that they're going through and the things that they're facing in life," he tells xoNecole in our midday chat. "By reading it, you'll be able to obliterate, and I mean, completely destroy those self-limiting beliefs. You will be able to have the courage and the strength to propel yourself to the next level of your life."
We recently sat down the 32-year-old self-love sage to talk about personal growth, romantic love, and why it's important for Black men to be vulnerable.
*Some answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
xoNecole: In your book, you really harp on doing the inner work, particularly in the areas of self-love and self-worth. Personally, I tend to think self-worth is an inside job.
Mike Johnson: It absolutely is, it's in the name.
For Black men in particular, how can they continue to cultivate that sense of self-awareness?
[I think it's in] the strength that we have, the strength that we are blessed with and the strength that society makes us have. I think that we can take some of that strength and be vulnerable as well, because it does absolutely take strength to be vulnerable. And I feel that once we can see the strength, meaning vulnerability, there's nothing that we can't do. It's more of a mindset--it's funny because when I think of this topic, I think of Eminem and 8 Mile. If you remember when he did the rap battle, he said everything negative against himself, he put it all out there. And once you put everything out there, no one could combat you. It's already out there. So, I think that's something that we have to utilize to our advantage.
"I think that we can take some of that strength and be vulnerable as well, because it does absolutely take strength to be vulnerable. And I feel that once we can see the strength, meaning vulnerability, there's nothing that we can't do."
Why do you think it’s so hard for Black men to have conversations around self-love and personal growth?
I wouldn't say that it's hard. It's just maybe something that isn't as seen in mainstream media. And I can speak to why I think that is. I feel that in our community, we put on a tough face at times but I do want to say that the color of our skin doesn't dictate our emotional levels. I feel that our environments do. And we adapt to the environment to make sure that we survive out of it. I think people like Charlamagne are doing a wonderful job of spearheading how to get out of those environments, Derrick Jaxn on Instagram, someone like myself--since I'm trying to be in that realm as well. And if something is popular, more people want to be able to do it as well.
When men start to realize that, you know, it's OK for us to be vulnerable, it's OK to talk about real issues and you're not considered a victim--I think that people relate to that more. I mean, the reason some of our biggest musical artists are so big is because they have a creative way of getting out their emotions and they speak on what they're going through, through songs.
You seem to be a very optimistic guy. Every time I come across you on Instagram, you always seem to have a smile on your face. So I wanna know, is a positive outlook a deal-breaker for you when it comes to relationships?
Not having a positive outlook, yeah. If she doesn't have a positive outlook--I don't care how fine she is. I don't care how much money. I don't really care, if you [are] a Negative Nancy, I'm not with you. I am extremely strong with that. If you're just a negative-thinking individual, I'm not going to let your negativity interrupt my energy. It's too precious.
"If you're just a negative-thinking individual, I'm not going to let your negativity interrupt my energy. It's too precious."
Courtesy of Mike Johnson
How has your time on ‘The Bachelorette’ or ‘Bachelor In Paradise’ influenced what traits you now look for in a potential partner?
No, it hasn't changed whatsoever. I still know the type of woman that I love and adore, and quite honestly with me on TV-- it doesn't change my outlook because I was able to attract the woman that I like already. The TV doesn't do anything when it comes to dating, except for if you want to be superficial and get a certain type of chick, then you can do that. But my homies still know back in the day, when I was a teenager, we would call Walmart, Club Walmart. And if I go to Walmart to this day and I see somebody that I'm into, she could be the cashier. I don't care.
So, no TV doesn't do anything. All the TV does when it comes to dating is people feel as if they know exactly what you like. I know you didn't ask the question, but when I talked to my homies about when Black women say that I don't like Black women--I'm like, 'Why is it that way?' That's hard for me to hear because that's a damn lie. My ex was Black. And if the Bachelorette was a Black woman, no Black woman would say that. Right? So that's the only thing that actually hurts me, if I can honestly be transparent about that. That hurts my heart because I'm like, 'Hey, I love y'all period.'
Who is Mike Johnson as a romantic partner?
Mike Johnson is a loving partner. I'm the guy that your girlfriends hate because you are going to be saying all of these positive things and they don't have a good man like that (laughs). I would say that I'm pretty damn good at relationships. I definitely have no problem with someone putting me in the check but if they do something crazy too, I'm going to let them know. I don't like that either. I'm definitely someone that will motivate you just by you just watching how I act and how I move in life. I have goals all the time and so that will rub off on my partner. And I am definitely a sexual being.
Speaking of, kind of. Do you know your love languages and if so, what are they?
Yeah. So at first, before I read the book by Gary Chapman--amazing book-- I thought my love language was physical touch. But after reading the book, doing the quizzes, I ended up going deeper and it turns out my love language is actually quality time. But my dialect is quality communication. So when you speak to me, tell me what your heart is telling you, tell me your thoughts, be transparent with me, be loyal to me, that brings that trust like nothing else.
Are you single? How would you like for a woman to approach you now?
Oh wow. Well, I will say I am dating someone right now. I'm making a love that I want.
Shameless plug. Lastly, what's one thing you know now to be true about love?
One thing I know to be true about love. If you're loyal to a person, that person is loyal to you, if you do everything to make that individual happy, and if you have an open communication, open dialogue--there's nothing that you guys can't get through.
Making the Love You Want is available now, wherever books are sold. And to keep up with Mike, be sure to connect with him on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Mike Johnson
Vaughn Hebron may be one of the leads of BET's hit series, The Oval, but the Baltimore-bred actor is the perfect leading man off- and on-screen. Though he plays Bartholomew "Barry" Hallsen, a young father to daughter Callie and son of the esteemed White House butler, Hebron's chiseled physique and abs for days are a tempting distraction from any lines he might be reading.
The Lafayette College alumnus attended his alma mater on a partial scholarship for Division I football where he became an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. After graduation, he pursued a short career in pharmaceuticals, and in January 2017, he decided to give acting a shot by moving to Los Angeles. Who would've thought that two short years and a push of encouragement from his stepfather later, he would be booked as a series regular on one of the leading shows on BET?
xoNecole caught up with the actor about physical health as a factor in attractiveness, why he didn't date while he was in college, and his thoughts on the relationship between mother and son being a reflection of how a man will treat a woman. Take a look at our conversation below!
xoNecole: How do you believe Barry has evolved since we met him in the first season?
Vaughn Hebron: The Oval for Barry started like a regular day just going to help his father out at the White House—something that he's always done. He thought it was going to be a regular night and then he gets accused of rape, which is something he's never obviously encountered before, especially in a place that was so familiar to him. He managed to get off even though his life was almost ruined. Literally, within one day, his whole life just flipped and changed. As a young man, he was trying to better himself, get his own place, and out of his parents' spot just so he could grow into his manhood and be independent.
Pretty much until the end of the season, he's dealing with blow after blow of his reality being shattered, his baby being taken, and the people that he thought would be on his side really not showing the support he thought. That's what makes him lash out a lot and makes him do some reckless things. You start to see where a good guy—when faced with a lot of extreme adversity and hardship in such a short period—just cracks under all of that pressure.
Related to romance, in what ways do you feel you connect with Barry's story?
Well, I don't have baby-mama drama, thankfully. If I ever did, I'm hoping that she's not part of a crazy cult that's kidnapping kids and stuff. I surely hope not, but it's Hollywood so you never know (laughs). I think Sharon reminds him so much of his mother, and I understand trying to find your mother in your spouse and trying to find those good qualities that really love about your mother. At the same time, as Sharon talks about throughout the season, she never really had a close relationship with Barry's daughter. Barry and the way he lashed out at his mother is the same way he lashes out at Sharon a few times when he just can't trust any woman (laughs).
I have way better luck with women than Barry does. I do believe that he genuinely wanted the world with Sharon and wanted to be a good father. It's sad that extreme circumstances can really affect everything and everybody around you.
Speaking of mothers, I was always taught that you can tell a lot about how a man’s going to treat you based on how he treats his mother. How true do you find that to be?
I don't know if that's always true because mothers—as much as we love them and they're a God-sent blessing—they're not always perfect. Sometimes a mother can do something that really affects the relationship that she has with her son. I think the way that a man respects his mother and holds her in regard is what you can expect, yes. [However,] just because they don't have the best relationship doesn't mean that's gonna reflect in a relationship that a woman will have with a man.
My mother and I—of course, she's still my mother—but at this point, we kind of have more like a big sister-little brother relationship. We joke, laugh, and talk to each other like we really grew up together (laughs). It's so funny because that's my friend, and of course, I would never disrespect her or anything like that, but I will still have a real conversation and banter with her in a way some people might not ever go back and forth with their mother. That's just the relationship that we have with each other.
I think you have to gauge that and I don't always think it's a reflection. You know if he doesn't respect or at least know how to talk to his mother, then he might not know how to talk to you as a woman.
You’re the oldest of nine siblings. What has being this taught you about love and patience that can be translated into relationships?
What being the oldest has probably taught me the most is that everybody matures, grows, and comes into their maturation and who they are in their own time. What works for somebody or what standard that somebody has for themselves isn't going to be the same standard for everybody else. For me, by the time I graduated, I went straight into the workforce and I was pretty independent. I was also independent in college. For my brothers, it either took them a longer time to graduate or after they graduated, they moved back in with our parents. Everybody had a different standard of where their life was going to lead them and what they were going to do with themselves.
When it comes to relationships, it taught me that the standard you might've had for your ex, somebody you used to talk to or any other situation, you can't always bring that to this new person. You have to gauge where they are and see if where they are works for you or not, but you can't really compare them or try to hold somebody else to a standard where somebody else was at, especially if it didn't work for you. That kills me sometimes. A lot of times people will be like, 'I'm used to this. I'm used to a man doing this. I'm used to a man saying this," and I'll be like, "Well, are you still with that person?' (laughs). If it didn't work for you and if it didn't work out, why are you comparing this to something that didn't work?
"When it comes to relationships, it taught me that the standard you might've had for your ex, somebody you used to talk to or any other situation, you can't always bring that to this new person. You have to gauge where they are and see if where they are works for you or not, but you can't really compare them or try to hold somebody else to a standard where somebody else was at, especially if it didn't work for you."
That's definitely true. If it didn’t work back then and you keep trying to make that work, chances are that it may not work. Let’s just hang that up.
Yeah, everybody moves in a different way. Everybody has their own beat that they dance to. All you have to do is see if it works for you or if it doesn't. Trying to compare and hold somebody else to a standard that they don't even think about, I find it to be less effective most of the time.
You mentioned that straight out of college, you started working. How would you compare dating in college to dating while you’re working out in the real world?
Honestly, I didn't really date like that in college. I was on the football team, then I pledged and became a Que so dating wasn't really in the cards for me in college because I had other priorities. I would say if I did get close to somebody in college, we did little things like go to the movies, go out to eat here or there or we would hang out on campus. Everything was carefree and I don't think we were really looking towards the future with things back in college.
I've always dated older women, too, to be honest with you so when I graduated and started working, the women I dated after that just seemed to know where they were going or they knew what they were trying to work toward. It was one of those things where if I wasn't helping them, or if I wasn't on the same page, it probably wasn't gonna work out. They weren't really just trying to chill out and be casual with things. They were like, 'Look, if we ain't building toward a relationship or something more than just us hanging out, it's not for me.'
Dating after college became something like seriously dating, building, and progressing and not just a relationship where it's like, "This is my girlfriend and we do girlfriend-boyfriend stuff." We make each other better and we're working toward something long-term. The standards and the expectations went up.
What are the top lessons that the entertainment industry has taught you about dating?
The No. 1 lesson that I've learned out here is people have different priorities and you have to know what those priorities are before you take them seriously. What I mean by that is coming from Baltimore—the East Coast—everybody seems to be on the same wave. You graduate college, you go get a job, you become successful in that job, you find a woman, you make her your wife, and then y'all live happily ever after with your big house, some equity, some investments, and some kids. That's what everybody was on where I was from.
Over here, people have different priorities because people don't move to L.A. to get married. They move to L.A. to become movie stars, actresses, the next biggest model, or the next big R&B singer. Everyone has different priorities when it comes to being out here, so you have to know that before getting involved with somebody. Even if they say they're open to a relationship, if their actions show that you are not a priority and their job, clout, or image is a bigger priority, that's something that you have to make sure you understand so you don't end up getting hurt. You can't just assume that because somebody says they want a relationship—or they're acting like they want a relationship —means that they really want a relationship.
You’re also recognized for being really smart. You graduated with degrees in Economics and Business and a minor in Africana Studies. How important is it to you that a woman has brains?
It's very important to me because I love intelligence. I love a woman who's witty and smart, and because I'm a person that loves intelligence, I like going back and forth with people and having good conversations, debates and exchanges of thought. That's intimate to me. It can be very intimate, actually. That's one of the things that I cherish and appreciate when I talk to someone. If I can't have a real conversation with you and talk to you about some deep stuff, then it's just not going anywhere.
To add to that, one of the biggest things that I also appreciate is when somebody can teach me something and can add onto the knowledge I have and get me to think about things in a different way. If she's not intelligent, always learning or growing herself, or developing personally, she wouldn't be able to do that for me if she's not working on herself individually. I think that goes for anybody. If you're not bettering yourself and if you're not constantly feeding your mind and soul—pouring into yourself—how can you pour into somebody else? Intelligence and wit is something I value a lot when it comes to women.
"If she's not intelligent, always learning or growing herself, or developing personally, she wouldn't be able to do that for me if she's not working on herself individually. I think that goes for anybody. If you're not bettering yourself and if you're not constantly feeding your mind and soul—pouring into yourself—how can you pour into somebody else? Intelligence and wit is something I value a lot when it comes to women."
You’re not just brains. You’re also brawn! On your IG, we see the arms, abs and in 'GQ South Africa', you talked about fitness and working out.
A little bit, a little bit (laughs).
No, you do it. Don’t flex! How does working out and physical fitness play a role when you’re looking for a woman?
It plays a big role and it's probably gonna be the first thing I see. The physical appearance is probably the first thing I'm attracted to—it is what it is. I'm not saying she has to look like Beyonce or J.Lo, but I definitely need a woman who takes care of herself physically. If I'm putting so much time and energy into my body—and I'm not saying you have to do what I do— and you're not making sure you're not on top of your own body, physical fitness, and mental health, then there's gonna be an issue.
When it comes to diet, it plays a role in a lot of things—your mental health, how tired you are, your sexual health. Fitness is a universal thing, so I have to make sure you're on it because I'm going to be on it. Luckily I'm in an industry where they take their physical health and appearance pretty seriously, and it's L.A.. More often than not, I meet women who are already working out and taking care of themselves, so that's been a good thing.
You put in your Instagram bio that you are an “intellectual bad boy”. If you could put your perfect woman in three words, what would it be?
Wow, I really said that? (Laughs.) Intelligent, committed, and priceless. Oh yeah, that's a good one.
*Some answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Featured photo courtesy of Rowan Daly