Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): I wanted to interview you, because of the words you shared during the Black Weblog Awards that pertained to a part of your life I had no idea about; your life before Necole Bitchie. Can you please share what your life was like before you began blogging? What events or turning points led to you creating the well-known celebrity gossip blog?
Necole Kane (NK): When I was in school I thought I was going to be the next John Singleton or Mara Brock Akil who is the writer of Girlfriends. She and her husband have gone on to do major things since then, but those are the people I looked up to. I was very sure that I was going to move to California one day and be in the film industry. I took a chance one day, and I moved out to Detroit and I fell into an internship in radio. That’s how I got started in entertainment.
My life before blogging was me living in Detroit trying to get a job in a radio station and then going to New York to see about getting a job with a record label. That’s the hustle of anyone in the entertainment industry. They’re kind of like floating in the wind and waiting on an opportunity to present itself and working for different people. That’s a little bit of what I was doing before blogging.
EM: Yes ma’am, thank you. You made mention of losing your parents and the struggle with that as well as living with a few friends. Can you expound on those events and how it has contributed to your journey?
NK: I started blogging years after my parents passed away. I started it, because I was trying to get a job. I remember it was the Summer of 2007 and I kept interviewing for different positions in entertainment. I interviewed to be Tyra Bank’s assistant and Diddy’s assistant and applying to Sean John, Sony, Universal and every record label out there that summer. That kind of thing takes a hit at your self-esteem when you’re constantly going to these different interviews and not getting called back and not getting the job.
One day I was like, “I’m not sending out another resume. If someone wants me to work for them, they’re going to have to come find me.” I was tired of rejection. That’s how the blog came about. Since I wasn’t looking for jobs I kind of ran out of money (laughs). I had to go back home. When I was supposed to the online looking for jobs, I was actually creating the website (NecoleBitchie.com) and hoping for the best.
EM: What were your initial feelings towards celebrity blogging and the gossip aspect of it? Was that something you went after or did it just unfold that way?
NK: It’s weird, because when I first started I was doing celebrity blogging but I was doing a lot of blogging about myself as well. I felt like people were connecting to the story.
EM: Is there anyone that you greatly admire that you would like to interview that may not be a “traditional celebrity”?
NK: Oprah. I’ve always felt that she was a mega-celebrity. I would want to get business advice. She knows things. I think the Oprah Winfrey show started when she was 32 years old. I’m actually 33. I just want to know looking back now what she would say to her 32-year-old self starting the show and everything leading up to where she is now. She’s done so many things. It’s kind of hard to get that mentorship advice nowadays. Now you really have to just rely on getting on YouTube and looking at the people you want to be your mentors and looking at all of their interviews. It’s rare that you’re actually able to sit down with someone that you consider a mentor and ask them all of the questions you want to ask them about business.
EM: I would definitely agree with you on that one and I too would love to sit down and talk with her for the same reasons; the way she conducts her interviews as well as the different people she sits with.
Let’s go back to the Black Weblog Awards ceremony when all of your friends were speaking about you and how much they greatly admire you. I learned a lot about you. Your words that night were very inspiring and they resonated with me. In starting my own magazine in what some may think looks easy, it was a lot of work and I didn’t know that people were against or opposed to me doing it. Now I’ve opened up my own day spa…that was and still is a lot of work.
One of the things that you shared was, “Keep pushing and don’t let anyone steal your dream”. What difficulties did you have along the way of your journey, and what decisions did you have to make about the people in your life you had to let go of? What was that like for you? How were you able to listen to your own advice?
NK: To be honest when I first started, and I used to do this all of the time, I would isolate myself from everybody. I didn’t want to hear all of these unsolicited opinions of what I’m doing from other people. So I disappeared when I started my website. It’s funny, because I just spoke with Terrance J recently when we followed him for “A Day In the Life”. I said to him, “Terrance while you were struggling and sleeping on couches, were you in contact with your mom at all?” He said, “Not much”. It’s funny how we kind of withdraw from everybody especially when we’re in a struggle. We don’t want anybody to see us struggling. It’s kind of a pride thing. We don’t want to hear anyone tell us something that’s going to discourage us from doing something. So we kind of just go away. We disappear, and when they see us again we’re successful so people weren’t there for the ride…they just feel like it was an easy ride.
When I started my site I really didn’t have to cut people off but just withdraw from people and just focus on the vision I had. I know a lot of times when you tell people what you’re trying to do, especially if they’re not even in the field or it’s something brand new, it’s going to be discouraging. They don’t do it on purpose, they just don’t understand it. So it comes across as discouraging.
I had to have tunnel vision, cut everybody off for a second…I’ll be back around but I’m focused.
EM: You just reminded me of when I moved to Chicago for about six months. I was going to what some would consider a very cold environment, it wasn’t like the South. They weren’t really warm. I remember I kept my relocation to myself until the week before I was leaving.
NK: Exactly! A lot of times I didn’t tell people when I was about to leave. They would just call me and I was like, “Oh, I’m in…this city…” and they were like “What! Why didn’t you…” I’ve never had a going away party, and it’s only because I don’t want to hear anyone’s opinion or questions, “Why are you going to move there? What is your plan?” I’m going to figure it out. I never had going away parties; you’d just hear about it later.
EM: A girlfriend of mine always says, “Don’t ask me how I’m going to do. Wait a little while and I’ll tell you how I did it”.
EM: How much did and does spirituality play a role in all of those decisions that you made and jobs that you were seeking out and with the blogging? How did it help you?
NK: I learned a lot about faith. I was going around knocking on all of these doors and they were closing, so I would think maybe this isn’t something I’m supposed to be doing. At one point I would just have to sit and wait for the answers and let faith guide me, and that’s why I’ve moved so many times. I feel it in my heart when it’s time, like a little nudge, like your time is up here; it’s time for you to go to the next place.
I was in Atlanta in the very beginning stages of my blog. In two years I could tell that they had me in a box and they wouldn’t let me get out of that box. Like, “We’re not going to let you be as big as you want to be. You can only grow this far and that’s it. You can’t get to the top”. It’s almost like crabs in a bucket. You’re trying to get to the top and there’s somebody pulling you down by the leg. That’s what it felt like. That’s why I knew I had to leave. Every time I’ve moved, I’ve advanced even further in my career. I don’t even think I’ve ever looked back and said, “Why did I move there”? It all was a piece of the puzzle that helped get where it is today.
EM: Awesome. You actually went into one of the next questions regarding a few things you’ve learned about yourself through all of those struggles and if you’ve ever felt any sense of regret. If so, how were you able to turn it into an opportunity to grow?
NK: I live by this quote, “If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t change what I did, I’d change the way I feel about what I did”. No regrets. I look back and I don’t really have any regrets. Everything has helped make me who I am today.
EM: Another quote that you gave the night of the awards ceremony, “I’ve been on a journey of just uplifting people and I’ve come along way”. What in particular was crossing your mind as you expressed those words? When you were discussing being a motivational speaker for women, like how there are many a football motivational speaker for men, how do you envision yourself doing that?
NK: It’s funny, because I go back into my archives and my writing style was very honest but I was so ratchet (laughs). I didn’t have much etiquette. I didn’t have much life experience, I was young. I just liked the way I felt when I put a post up. Beat Face Honey, the makeup artist that Nicki gave an opportunity to, she was in that video that they showed at the awards show. Putting up inspiring stories like that and then seeing the comments and how many women say that they’re inspired by it and knowing how many women it touched that they feel like, “Oh my god my dream is within reach. If she did it, I can”. That’s so much more gratifying then putting up celebrity gossip stories and having my commenters arguing with each other and going in on each other. It makes me feel so much better. I’m actually using my platform for something good.
I do want to do motivational things. I can shut down my site today and say, “Hey I want to do motivational stuff”. Will my audience come with me? Probably not. Therefore, you have to hook them with what they’re coming for everyday, which is the celebrity entertainment news. Then you slide in the inspiring stories and empowerment. It’s like when you give a child a sandwich and you may want them to take their multi-vitamins, and you might chop it up in pieces and put it in the middle of the sandwich so that they don’t know that they’re getting that multi-vitamin.
EM: Right! Good teaching. With regard to the motivational speaking that you mentioned wanting to do with young girls and women, what do you have in mind? How do you see yourself doing that?
NK: I was going to do it through my website, XONecole. I was creating a website that was two-fold. It was going to be a lot of different stories on relationships, love, mentorship from different women. It was a platform for me to tell other women’s stories. Then we’d have events that we were going to do as well that would be empowering, female bonding.
A lot of times when we do these events we make the winners comes alone so that they have to bond with other women. You let them come with a friend they may not meet other people who are there. Everyone that wins has to come by themselves and then you meet people there. I loved when I came into the event we had Tamar Braxton, and by the time I got there all of the girls had grouped into different clusters. I knew that they had come alone, but they were in groups when I got there, which means they were meeting different women.
Everyone felt so empowered that night. It was women who were new mothers, women who had just gotten married or engaged or were new to New York. I had a way of picking them all. I was on a high for like two weeks after that event, and that’s the kind of energy I want in the life right now, especially getting older.
The energy you put out you get it right back. With that I have to be very careful in the way that I word my blogs now and the things we choose to cover. If I put that negative energy out there it’s going to come back to me and I’m going to be miserable for a week….maybe that’s why I’ve been laying on the couch all day today (laughs). Now I have to go onto my website and see what story was the culprit (laughs).
EM: I think last week was like that for me (laughs).
My last question for you is within another quote of yours. You said, “You have to be patient. Things will happen when they are meant to”. I can certainly relate to this. I want to know from you if there were any moments that you felt that there were some things that weren’t meant to be. How were you able to use faith to feel your way through it? Did the thought of giving up ever cross your mind, and if so how did you overcome it?
NK: I’m dealing with that now. It’s not giving up on NecoleBitchie.com. I’m in the stages of creating another brand (XONecole), and I want this brand to grow and for it to grow I have to let go of the Bitchie, so it can grow. I’m creating a lifestyle brand to help me transition out of the celebrity gossip blog. With doing that you start dealing with different writers. The hardest part for me is to not micro-manage and to put other people in charge with everything; even my blog. Nothing publishes to my blog without me looking it at, me putting my finishing touches on it and me pushing “Publish”. My name is on that site; that’s me.
When I created this new brand I had to let go of control just a little bit, but it just wasn’t going the way that I wanted it to. That’s probably why I’m in a mental slump now. I do feel like giving up on my second brand that I’ve put blood, sweat and tears into all year long and spending so much money on. I spent way more money trying to launch this brand than I had with Necole Bitchie. It got to a point where now I’m sitting down and asking God, “Ok now you need to guide my steps, because maybe this isn’t what my next move is supposed to be and maybe I’m pushing it”. I am going through it right now. I’m in a stage now where I’m taking a step back and I’m just listening and waiting for clarity on what’s next. If that’s not next then what is it? I’m waiting for that sign. When it gets to the point where I want to give up I have to sit still sometimes and just listen. Sometimes we just go, go, go and we’re not really listening to our inner voice, we’re not listening to our heart and we’re not listening to that Higher Power.
EM: Beautifully said, and I wholeheartedly agree. I really commend you for having that approach.
NK: When I was living in New York, and I’ve moved every year since I’ve started my website, but I was in New York and I thought I was going to stay there. I got an office there and everything. It was coming to the time where my lease was about to expire, and I was looking for another place. When I say I came into every difficulty that I could run into while trying to stay in New York, I was like “It must not be meant for me to be in New York”. So I went to L.A. and I found a place immediately. It was smooth sailing and I was thinking it must’ve been meant for me to move to L.A. Maybe that’s where my brand it going to grow and expand, and things have been going well ever since I got here.
When there are too many obstacles I really step back and say, “Okay God is trying to tell me something. He’s really trying to tell me something”. I’m not in church every Sunday, but I definitely have a personal relationship with God, and I definitely believe in faith and I definitely listen.
EM: Thank you so much for sharing your journey with Hurt2Healing. Is there anything else you would like to add?
NK: I’m taking a break for a few weeks. I’m going to Europe and hopefully I’m able to get peace and listen to my inner voice and come back rejuvenated and go harder than ever.
EM: Thank you again Necole. May God continue to bless you on your journey with much success!
NK: Thank you for having me. I’m honored.