Da’Vinchi has appeared in many television series such as All American and Grown-ish but it was his role in BMF as Terry Flenory that helped propel his career forward. Since starring in BMF, he made his Broadway debut with Thoughts of a Colored Man and is currently shooting an undisclosed movie in Vancouver. The 26-year-old actor is beginning to see the fruits of his labor and so it’s hard to imagine that he almost went in a different direction. Da’Vinchi spoke with xoNecole’s Dana Blair for our xoMan series about acting, being a sapiosexual, and protecting his peace.
The Brooklyn native was involved in sports when he was young but shared that he was also headed down a destructive path. It wasn’t until he moved in with his father at the age of 13 that he began to focus on his love for the arts. “They say when a man finds his life’s work, that’s where his purpose is, and honestly, me finding my life work is what saved my life,” he said.
xoMan: Actor Da'Vinchi On Self-Care, Fame, Love, and His Type
“It gave me purpose so I have to take my career as seriously as I take oxygen–the oxygen I breathe. It’s like my entire living circumstances have changed. I went from one dimension to another based off me really taking my work so seriously. I could never not take that seriously. To me, it’s one of those things… It’s like my heart. I have to take that serious.”
He added, “At the end of the day, that’s what got me through a lot. And now it’s become bigger than me that it’s affecting people around me. My mother’s retired now. She’s chilling. There’s certain things people around me don’t even have to do anymore. So it’s like I gotta take this serious.”
Da’Vinchi credited changing his environment, reading, and staying centered as the foundation to having a thriving career. The Alchemist and Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success are two of his favorite books that have impacted his life. “I practice meditation and prayer, that stuff religiously, you know what I’m saying? Because I understand like this business is… it’s an interesting business,” he said about the acting industry.
“It’s an interesting world. There’s a lot of people that have different perspectives on a lot of things and it’s just like I just try to stay centered in what got me here so I just keep doing those things. And I know that’s going to keep propelling me.”
As a tall (he’s 6’3''), dark and handsome man, the Haitian-American actor has also garnered a bevy of female fans. But according to him, he doesn’t look at himself as a sex symbol. “No. I mean, I’m appreciative of it,” he said. “It was with Grown-ish. I was like damn, people are really seeing me like this? I was like, man this is interesting. I just see myself as a person, that people kinda like but I’m not. Chris Brown is a sex symbol. All those R&B singers. But me, I’m a person.”
While his relationship status is unknown, he did share what he looks for in a woman.
“I definitely do [have a type.] I think if you’re a person and you don’t have a type, then it’s like you’re just drifting through life aimlessly,” he explained. “I’m big on the brains and smarts. And not just book-smarts. And of course, I’m not just going to sit here and act like she’s just gotta be this nerd and I don’t look at looks at all. No, of course, I look at looks as well.”
He continued, “To me, what’s bigger than just the ‘eye test’ is the brains. The way I really start to get connected with a woman, it’s her mindset. It’s her mindset. When I’m like, ‘Yo, I can really build with this shorty, you know what? This one right here. This is a keeper.’ And you don’t find that a lot of times because a lot of times women will think men are just heavily–like we’re beings that are really just programmed to only want the body.”
“A lot of us are like that and that is our instinct from nature but I think some of us are more evolved than that now. And we’re not that primal anymore. So if you want a good man, I think you should work your brain because that right there is where longevity comes from. Anything that’s physical, that deteriorates. I go straight to the heart, soul, and mind. And that right there, I’m a sucker for.”
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Featured image by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images
Before J. Alphonse Nicholson was Lil Murda on the Starz drama P-Valley, he was going back and forth between North Carolina and New York to pursue his dream of acting. The actor comes from a creative background. His mother used to write screenplays for their church while he had a passion for music and wanted to be a music teacher and play in a band as a drummer. It wasn’t until he began attending North Carolina Central University that he decided to take a stab at acting and like they say, the rest is history.
But it wasn’t easy. He dropped out of college to pursue acting and as a young parent, he was constantly away from his son and family. Speaking to xoNecole’s Dana Blair for our xoMan series, J. Alphonse opened up about balancing co-parenting at a young age, hustling, and trying to make acting happen while also keeping his mental together.
“It was hard,” he started. “There was a lot of times I wanted to go back home and get my job back at FedEx. And do whatever other side hustle I had going on. And I missed my son a lot too. That was the hardest part for me, was being away from my son.”
xoMan: J. Alphonse Nicholson on Falling In Love, Criticism & Love Languages
J. Alphonse and Nafeesha have a blended family sharing a son and daughter. “It was hard. It was hard. And it was one of those things where I had plenty of moments where I wanted to give up, but I think the same things I wanted to go back to – the same thing that I wanted to be there for every day like my son and not having to worry about you know certain things as an artist – it was also the same things that motivate me.”
“My son, I wanted him to have a better life than I had. I didn’t have a horrible life, you know but it was tough. My mom was a single mom. (J. Alphonse’s father passed away when he was 12-years-old). She had to work multiple jobs to make sure she provided for us. That was a constant reminder that I don’t want my son to have to relive some of the hardships I had to [live] and I want to build a life for myself. So that was my constant motivation. And then just, I knew at some point that I was going to be able to make a mark with storytelling, whether it was big or small. So, this opportunity with Lil Murda (his character in P-Valley) came years down the line. And I’m glad that I didn’t give up.”
Lil Murda may be his breakout role but J. Alphonse has acted in other projects such as Just Mercy and he has also performed on Broadway. For those who may be unfamiliar with the Starz series, P-Valley is about a struggling strip club called The Pynk in Chucalissa, Mississippi and J. Alphonse plays an up-and-coming rapper named Lil Murda who keeps his sexual identity hidden in order to make it in the hip hop industry.
“I had a lot of great opportunities prior to that too. I know a lot of people know me for Lil Murda but the Just Mercy’s of the world, the Self Made’s, and all of the theater stages I’ve been able to step on. Broadway. All those things are milestones that you end up stacking up and it’s like, ‘Oh okay, I’m getting somewhere. Like my foundation is building,’” he said.
“So you have to physically see those things. So a lot of times, yeah, I had to brush myself off, cry, you know, call my girlfriend, my then-fiancee, now-wife you know, to really chop these things up and figure out exactly how you want to move throughout life… It was tough but I think I had the right people in my corner.”
Some of those people in his corner include his best friends and of course his wife. The North Carolina native gushed over his wife and shared how she has been his rock while he was struggling to make it in entertainment.
“Shout out to some of my best friends Denzel and Khalil who are like my brothers, I’ve known them since I was 15, and then ultimately shout out to my wife,” he said. “When I met her, I was still going through it. You know, still trying to make things happen. But I feel like her support and love around me and her vision for who we were as a couple motivated me 100 times more to go out and get it.”
J. Alphonse’s relationship with his wife Nafeesha is a true example of a partnership. The musician explained how they have conversations about the vision they see for their family and their lives. He credited his wife for having patience with him and his career while also making her own dreams come true.
“We always discussed it. It’s kinda like one of those things like, I’m a big dreamer, you know? And my wife, she’s a big dreamer as well, but she’s a big doer. Shout out to my wife. She doesn’t have to really talk about the things that she wants to accomplish or the things she’s accomplished already. She’s accomplished a lot of things that people may not know of but she has an understanding of who she is and what she’s been able to do,” he explained.
“And I’m the one who kinda like, ‘I need this crib down there with the jacuzzi,’ and she’s like, ‘You’re gonna get it. Take your time. Pace yourself.’ It works perfect. It’s a perfect balance. For us, we always have these conversations about what we want our life to be. And then you have a show like P-Valley comes around which is kind of like, ‘Oh okay, this is a different thing that has happened that’s come into our life we weren’t expecting, how do you deal with fame, celebrity, and then how do you deal with such a complex character and the things people have to say about me and the things they place on me personally and place on my wife?’”
He continued, “So, we have conversations about those things and keep each other lifted and we talk about the future too. ‘You got this movie coming up, you got this TV show coming up,’ we can’t wait for that. We can’t wait to get our kids into school and you know get them off to college in the next couple of years. All the real-life stuff outside of acting and entrepreneurship that we build on and I would just say that it’s been probably one of the biggest joys of my life having someone to build with on a constant, on a daily basis.”
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Featured image by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ
Have you ever had a dating, relationship, or hook-up experience that went so wrong you started questioning yourself? Is there something wrong with me? Did I somehow set the wrong expectation? Whether we want to admit it or not, a lot of us can identify with these feelings. That’s why I’m so happy that shows like Tracy Oliver’s Harlem exist to let us know we’re not alone.
The one-hour dramedy honestly and hilariously encompasses many of the trials and tribulations that the everyday Black millennial deals with. From topics about dating and relationships to questions surrounding one’s career trajectory, Harlem is entertaining, authentic, and extremely relatable. One character that has sparked a lot of healthy dialogue is Shawn. He represents the good guy who we may genuinely like but deviates from the ideal man we have in our mind.
Played by Robert Ri’chard, Shawn has some of the most fun and provocative scenes in the series. No stranger to putting on a show, the actor has been a part of many childhood favorites like Cousin Skeeter and One on One, to more grown-and-sexy projects like Kinky and Chocolate City. During our fun chat, we spoke about his acting journey, views on love and relationships, and why Amazon Prime's Harlem should be added to the xoTribe’s watchlist.
xoNecole: First, let me address what so many of our readers are thinking. Do you realize you were the star of a lot of our fantasies back in the day? How does that feel?
Robert Ri’chard: I don’t think I realize it yet! I really haven’t been hit over the head with the iconic roles and movies I’ve been a part of that have been these big juggernauts. And now, I’m on a new one with Harlem. Everybody’s binging and already asking for season two. I’m like, 'Ask for season seven! You know you want it already (laughs).'
But if anyone knows me, they know I never really watch my stuff. I love what I do but I never have the full validation of what I do because I don’t watch myself on camera. Still, it's definitely a blessing. People come up to me at airports, grocery stores, trains, and everything. I’m always on FaceTime talking to grandmas, wives, husbands, and everything. I love that. I love it.
Well, you've been acting most of your life. How do you think you've grown as an actor and as a man throughout the years?
I feel like everyone makes a point that I'm stuck in time. I’ve been in the business for like 26, almost 27 years. And everyone’s always like you don’t even look 27! I feel like I’m in this Benjamin Button lane where everyone's growing up fast and I get to stay the same age. But luckily I have two other people that are the same age as me: Meagan [Good] is staying young and beautiful and she’s the lead of our show, and then, obviously, everyone knows KP [Kyla Pratt] and I love each other and we’ve just solidified staying youthful. And now I have a new leading lady, Quinn, played by Grace Byers.
Yes, let's talk about your love interest, Quinn! She had quite a few deal-breakers, and that caused a bit of tension in your characters' relationship. Do you have any personal red flags?
I think my deal-breaker is not being all the way in. I play Shawn, and Shawn is all the way in. He’s got nothing to hide. He’s like, if I fall in love with you, I’m gonna fall in love with you. Drop all the walls, resistance, and second-guessing. If you feel it, let’s do it. I think that’s my one thing, if someone is not all the way in, that’s probably a deal-breaker for me.
But also, as a guy, you have to make the ladies feel safe and vulnerable enough to open up. Look, a woman is gonna be reserved and hold her own. Only as you make her feel safe and comfortable will she open up, blossom, and show you the things she’s protecting. I have two sisters, so I listen to how women think. My dad was always telling me to open the door for a woman, make her laugh, and go get her drinks.
I'm happy you said that because I think a lot of women can sympathize with Quinn's character. Do you feel a connection with Shawn like that, too? What's the difference in how you love or how you're a partner versus your character on the show?
I think Shawn and I are so closely related. A lot of people felt like he was refreshing to see, you know, someone that’s all into one girl. He’s listening, talking to her, and helping with her job. He’s doing what he can to quarterback her life and make sure she’s getting the best out of the stuff she’s pursuing.
And I think for Quinn’s character, she’s out with her girls when she meets him. It’s supposed to be fun and games, he’s dancing for her and everything. Then, she realizes they have a lot in common but she wants to keep her walls up and just have a good time. But he wants to cook for her, wake her up with a kiss, meet her friends, and be a part of her life!
Courtesy of Amazon Prime
You've delved into quite a few provocative roles in your career. Was that intentional? If so, why do you think it's important to showcase those different shades as an actor?
No. I’ve done a lot of drama roles and I’ve played the “buttoned-up guy,” too. I think someone has to be fearless. My producers and writers feel like, ‘We can lean on Robert to do things that other actors might be nervous to do.’ I feel like a sniper in that way, I’m the person that’s gonna shoot that shot and be like a shooting guard. I feel honored that people pick me to show what millennials and Gen Z are going through.
And for me, I’m so engulfed in the world, I’m not even aware that a video camera is shooting. It's almost like Shawn is a real person with a real life, and he's doing what a lot of people in America do—jobs where they take care of their family and do whatever they have to. I represent that.
Finally, what is the biggest lesson you'd like people to gain from the show and your character?
Not only do you have to be fearless, but you have to help and love people through their trauma. Number one is to be gentle but two, to be a hammer, and say, 'Listen, I’ll call you out on your stuff.’
And for the show, in the 21st century, it’s so hard to manage friends, dating, and career. And to have a show on air with bomb music—everybody loves the music (laughs)—happening on the biggest platform in the world, New York, and have these characters in this eco-system being super-honest and transparent and trying to figure it out, it gives everyone at home a chance to be represented. I just want people to see themselves in these characters as they eat popcorn and get through this pandemic.
To find out more about Robert Ri'chard, visit his Instagram.
Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty
What is a healthy example of love? If you really think about it, how was love shown to you growing up? Do you even know how much your childhood affected your love life as an adult? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves because, let's face it, we all want that love story we've seen on TV or in the movies—even if we aren't saying it out loud. But who's to say we are making the right moves to find not just a relationship, but a healthy one?
Whether you are team Love Jones or team Martin and Gina, how we perceive a healthy love can be based on so many things. And that is not excluding our upbringing. While love can look different for so many people, as long as we can all acknowledge that love should not feel like a challenge, then, we are on the right track. With the right person, love should be beneficial for both partners physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Periodt.
I recently chatted with someone who believes he grew up with healthy examples of love, which has helped him with how he approaches love and dating today. And that person, my friends, is actor Arlen Escarpeta. Arlen was born in Belize and moved to the United States at an early age with his mother. He pursued his acting career after college and landed his first movie role in Playaz Court in 2000. After that, he secured several TV roles including one in the legal series Boston Public, as well as police dramas The Shield and Boomtown. He also starred as Bobby Brown in the Lifetime original film Whitney.
Image courtesy of Shamayim
His most recent role is on OWN's coming-of-age drama series David Makes Man, a show created by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight). The drama centers around a teenaged prodigy named David who lives in the projects but tries to navigate his way between his neighborhood and his prestigious school. A newcomer to the series, Arlen plays JG, David's brother, who brings grounding to the young man. He's a rising businessman facing an opportunity that will change him and his community forever. (If you haven't checked out this OWN series, you should. It's so good!)
For this second season, Arlen's bringing the jokes and realness, and he's making the audience feel all the feels. At the same time, in his personal life, Arlen is making sure that he is making time in his love life to be the best human he can be and exude that healthy example of love he learned about while growing up.
xoNecole: In 'David Makes Man,' we see a time-lapse between younger versions of the characters and the older version. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Arlen Escarpeta: Well, something I have learned over the years is that procrastination is not the way to go. I am still learning that now. I consider myself a healthy procrastinator. I recognize the faults of it now whereas before, I would just tell myself I have more time. Since then, I have learned I can get a lot more done when I give myself enough time in the upfront to get things accomplished. When you realize that procrastinating is not the way to go, the better off you'll be.
When you were growing up, who was the most influential person in your life and why?
It sounds so cliche and I am sure a lot of men say this, but it is definitely my mother. My father died when I was very young and my mother moved from Belize to the States. Growing up, my mom was the sole provider and she kept the whole family above water. Her tenacity, drive, faith, and her whole spirit is intertwined in everything that I do.
Do you believe that societal pressures of what a man is supposed to be have affected how men and women date nowadays?
I think the pressures of social media have definitely affected the way people approach one another when it comes to dating. Back in the day, the guy that had the best pickup line got the girl. Nowadays it's about sliding in someone's DM and hopefully, you get a response. Even though things have changed, I still believe people are still looking for that real connection with someone. It's just wrapped in a different package.
"Back in the day, the guy that had the best pickup line got the girl. Nowadays it's about sliding in someone's DM and hopefully, you get a response. Even though things have changed, I still believe people are still looking for that real connection with someone. It's just wrapped in a different package."
Did you have healthy examples of love growing up? If so, what did you learn about love that you apply to your own relationships?
I think I had plenty of healthy examples around me growing up. I am a hopeless romantic. I was influenced by TV too and would see all these romantic gestures. I'm the type of guy that will go out and get you flowers just because. I want my girl to feel special. But what I have learned about gestures is that the simple ones are just as important as the big ones. It doesn't have to be a grand scale gesture all the time. Something as simple as loading the dishwasher can be received and appreciated the same as a bouquet of flowers. My current partner taught me this as well. Love can be simple.
Another thing I have learned from healthy examples of love is knowing when to walk away in a relationship. I learned that from my mother. When my mother divorced my stepdad, she knew that she deserved more. And now she has more. It is about setting boundaries for yourself and knowing when letting go of a person is better than just holding on. You have to do what makes you happy and [know] what is a better situation for the both of you.
Is it important for you to feel safe within your own relationship? If so, what does feeling safe look like for you?
It is absolutely important to feel safe in a relationship. Feeling safe for me is me being able to say whatever I want to say and trust that my partner hears and understands me. Feeling safe is having effective communication. I know we are going to bump heads sometimes. So being able to have a disagreement with my partner one moment, talk it out, and still be able to kiss them on the forehead, later on, is healthy to me. I honestly believe that if you are not having those uncomfortable discussions in your relationship, then you are not growing.
"Feeling safe is having effective communication. Being able to have a disagreement with my partner one moment, talk it out, and still be able to kiss them on the forehead, later on, is healthy to me. I honestly believe that if you are not having those uncomfortable discussions in your relationship, then you are not growing."
Image courtesy of Shamayim
What is one thing you think a man should work on for himself before he's ready to be in a relationship?
Having accountability. Men are not always held to the highest standards and can get away with some things sometimes. So, while we are quick to judge others, we really have to look at ourselves and call out some of the things that we do. I think accountability can help men receive what they want to receive and communicate better what's on their mind when they enter a relationship.
What advice do you have for single women who may overthink what it means to impress a guy in dating?
If I am speaking just to women, single or in relationships, I would say that it is important to not misrepresent yourself and let it lead the way. What I mean is, that mask that you put on in the beginning, you are going to have to keep that up. The longer you keep that mask on, the less the man is able to really know you. I know we put on masks mainly to protect ourselves. But when you are comfortable with yourself, it is easier to be comfortable with a potential partner. So you are better off being honest and allowing them to like you/love you for who you really are.
In your opinion, what are your three best qualities that you bring to a relationship?
Just three?! I mean I have a long list! Well, I know I mentioned accountability earlier but I think it is a very important quality to have in a relationship—like being aware of what your flaws are. The other quality I have is to be able to trust. You have to trust your partner and you have to be able to trust yourself. For the third quality, I would have to say I am passionate. You need to have passion in a relationship to keep it going. Passion helps keep the spark alive.
What is one thing that people do not notice about you right away that you wish they did when it comes to love and relationships?
I come across as a "glass full" type person. But honestly, I can be a big old baby. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don't think a lot of people know that about me.
What would you say is your biggest fear about relationships?
Because I am a hopeless romantic, God forbid the relationship ends and my partner no longer views me as a good person. I ask myself, 'Are we able to be friends afterward, or do they see me as the bad guy in the end?' I never want to be the bad guy.
Even when you try to do everything right, there are still circumstances that you have no control over that could lead to a relationship ending. So, with this fear of mine, I try to remind myself it's not about being the good guy or the bad guy. It is about staying true to yourself and putting your best foot forward.
To learn more about Arlen, follow him on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Shamayim
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
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