My Life

My 2016 Highlights and The Hiatus I’m Taking

Less than 3 weeks left in 2016, and I am fist-pumping for what has been an amazing year for me professionally and personally. Unfortunately, the world started to burn so not everything was great. However, this year has been one that has pushed me forward and upward, and one where so many of my dreams came to be. For that, I am immensely grateful.

So many highlights but I wanted to pick 5 that were especially special.

Top 5 Coolest Things That Happened

Locs be gone

In December 2009, I got my locs started with tiny comb coils that were about an inch long. Why? Because I wanted to see what I’d look like with locs. It wasn’t for any major reason. And for 6 years, I loved my hair so freaking much. It was low-maintenance, really versatile and it looked good! High return for low effort. I’d wash them every couple of weeks and get them retwisted once a month, and they grew fast without me trying much.

And then last year, I shaved the back and got an undercut that I’d switch up with different designs every other week.

But in April of this year, I felt like I was done with them. Again, no major reason but something told me it was time for a change. I only mentioned that I was thinking about it to 2 people. On April 20, I was sitting at my computer when I decided that it was the day my locs needed to go. I made an appointment with a barber whose work I had seen on Instagram and I went in that evening and told him to cut them off. My mid-back length locs got chopped off, and I emerged on social media with “New hair, who dis?”

People LOST THEIR SHIT. 309 comments on Instagram alone.

They say a woman who cuts her hair changes her life. I don’t know what happened but the moment I let those locs go, life went into hyperdrive in the best way.

Spoke at the White House

I had been to the White House for a couple of summits before this year, and even attended the Black History Year reception for the last 2 years. But to speak there was an opportunity I wanted. And it happened twice this year. And if you’re reading this on the morning of December 16, 2016, between 9:20-10:10am, then I’m speaking as you read. I’m on a panel to talk about “Building Inclusive Movements” as part of the last (😭) White House Council on Women and Girls forum. This is a tough pill to swallow because it’ll probably be the last chance I get to do this, seeing as we’re about to have Voldemort taking over.

ANYWHO, my first time speaking was in May, as part of the ROOTS Remake day at the WH. I was on a panel talking about how our names are our shield.

Deray, Alondra Nelson and Me!

There’s a video of me talking about why I protect my first name, and how Yoruba people make sure our children are blessed from the first utterance of their names.

A month after this, I was chosen to moderate a panel at the inaugural United State of Women summit, hosted by the White House and the First Lady Michelle Obama. I drove the conversation on a panel called “Reel Change: Advancing Equity and Opportunity in Media”, with Gloria Steinem, Shonda Rhimes, Sana Amanat (Marvel), Glen Mazzara (Writers Guild of America), Judith Williams (DropBox), Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (MuslimGirl.com). AMAZING company to be trusted with.

All of these dope people dropped all types of gems. Video of the panel is watchable on my Vimeo channel.

AND related. Another highlight related to the White House is SXSL (South by South Lawn), which was basically a cookout that happened on the South Lawn. Me and some fellow Peak Noir people decided to Swag Surf.

Press play ▶ we just swag surfed on the lawn of the White House. BLACK history year. #HellaOnyx #SXSL

A video posted by Awesomely Luvvie (@luvvie) on

GOOD TIMES.

Being in Oprah’s Orbit

Oprah Winfrey decided to handpick 100 people who she considers “awakened leaders who are using their gifts and voices to help elevate humanity.” I was one of them, as a member of the inaugural Supersoul 100 list. Other folks on this list? Ava DuVernay, Iyanla Vanzant, Jesse Williams, Marie Forleo, Glennon Melton Doyle etc. And so are people who I consider friends like Zim Oguchukwu (TravelNoire), Shaka Senghor, Felicia Horowitz, Joshua DuBois and Jessica Matthews. The list is pure BAWSE status. To say I was honored is an understatement.

Mother Winfrey and the OWN staff had a brunch for those of us on the list in April, and it was THE room to be in. Somehow, they managed to get 70 of us to be there, which is no small feat because of all the nutty schedules.

It felt surreal to be there.

And then we did a photoshoot as a big group, with Oprah in the center. After the giant shoot, we did group specific shoots. The SS100 list is split into 5 categories: Creatives, Givers, Teachers, Entrepreneurs and Igniters. I’m in the CREATIVES group, and we were first up to take our pic. We acted a complete fool as they tried to get us to take a decent pic. India.Arie led us in a group body roll as she sang Rihanna’s “Werk werk werk” which then led into a clapping and swaying session to “Lean on Me.” It was like we couldn’t help ourselves.

We were so unruly. I’m pretty sure the photographer wanted to shake his head at us but he was too amused. It was the best. And there’s a reason this group came together. But this beautiful pic came from that.

I’m between India.Arie and Amandla Stenberg. Gina Rodriguez is between us and Jesse Williams is to our left. Zendaya is in front of Sophia Bush and Ava is sitting all regale. This group was off the chain.

And that is when I personally met Oprah, in all her glory. Although we’d been in the room together at least 10 times over the years, I knew that when I met her formally, she’d already know my name. And that happened.

2 months later, her team had me back in LA, on the OWN lot, and this time, it was to interview her. I got to interview the best interviewer on the planet on her own turf. By then, I had shed my locs, and she grabbed my head.

Year made. YEAR. MADE. I could have ended there but let’s keep going.

I’m Judging You Dropped and Showed Out

I have been blogging for 13 years, y’all. Over a decade of churning out words on these interwebs. It was time for me to write a book. But I wasn’t gonna write one just for the sake of it. I wanted to write a GOOD one. Two years ago, on August 4, 2014, I got the idea for my book after I was plagiarized by a “journalist.” When I wondered out loud (on Twitter) whether there was a limited edition handbook that some of us didn’t get on how not to be shitty people, I was like “AH HA! That’s the book I need to write. So I did.

In March 2015, I got my book deal from Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan, and on September 13, 2016, my debut book I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, dropped unto the world. Angels sang, babies laughed and cats found chill. No, but really. This book did some things and changed my life.

This book seriously went nuts. Folks posted themselves holding my book, with its snazzy cover, featuring the sweet but sour lollipop that is now known as JudgeyPop. I went on a 15 city book tour, with my biggest stop being in DC, where 650 people came to show me love. I signed every one of their books.

But truly. My book tour was a LITuation. Every city had me paired with some of the dopest influencers, who also happen to be my friends/mentors/baes. Crissle West, Francheska Medina, Damon Young, Denene Millner, Samantha Irby, Angela Nissel, Lindy West, Richelle Parham, Emile Cambry, Demetria Lucas D’Oyley, Rachel Sklar, Kathryn Finney. I MEAN. Talk about an all-star lineup.

Chicago, DC, NYC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Madison, Boston, Miami, Baltimore. I came, talked, signed books and met you awesome people. More to come in 2017.

I’m burying the lede, doe. I’m Judging You was an instant New York Times best-seller, hitting the list the week after it was released!

This was a major dream come true. It was the biggest goal I’d set for myself thus far, and when I got the call at 5:15pm on September 21, it became real. I debuted at #5 on the list. It is something I earned, and it is an accolade that comes with quantifiable perks. It also means that FOREVER AND EVER, I get to be known as a best-selling author.

I DID THAT. Because y’all supported this book, and bought it and told your friends to buy it and make it your bookclub picks, and made your offices buy it. LUVVNATION helped make my biggest dream come true, and I am so thankful to y’all for it.

Cool ass awards

This was a year of winning some cool ass awards. I gotta say.

  • Influencer of the Year – Mom 2.0 Summit
  • The Root 100 – TheRoot.com
  • Person of the Year – Applause Africa Diaspora Awards
  • Most Awesome and Inspiring Women of 2016 – Good Housekeeping Magazine
  • America’s 50 Most Influential Women – Marie Claire

One of my favorite awards that I received this year was ADCOLOR’s Rockstar Award. For so many reasons. I was getting ready when I got the phone call that I hit the List. And after celebrating for 45 minutes, I got dressed and headed to the award, already floating on cloud 9. When my friend, Tai Beauchamp, called my name as winner of the Rockstar Award, the room erupted.

Accepting my ADCOLOR Rockstar award

I used my time on stage telling the people in power in that room to use their access and money and privilege to fight racism and injustice. I gave the list of 9 Things White People Can Do To Fight Injustice and I got off the stage, still not even sure if I was heard. Later in the evening, a Senior VP of a Fortune 500 company went off script as he presented an award onstage. And said “I am taking Luvvie’s list on and charging myself to do those things.” The entire room looks at me as my jaw drops.

I was heard. I was heard by powerful people who have the access to make real difference with their checkbooks, with one phonecall, and with their day-to-day decisions. People who got keys to the gates. I was reminded that I doubted my gift for far too long. I was affirmed to keep going and to keep saying the things that used to make me think I’d talk myself out of a room. And that being The Challenger is necessary.

For me, these awards aren’t just to collect cute trophies and bragging rights. Each one gives me more access to powerful people, who I hope can take on the work that needs to be done. And many of them are special because my peers saw fit for me to get the recognition.

WHEW.

2016 has been a banner year indeed. I had over 50 speaking engagements, 20 book tour stops, and took 57 trips (and 110 flights). In the last 3 months, I’ve been home for a TOTAL of 3 weeks. I’ve kept an amazing pace to the point where I have now hit a wall and can be of no help to anybody. So, I’m taking a month off doing WORK. It means a month off writing, and answering emails, and conference calls and meeting and being expected to be productive. I’m taking a month to continue to reflect on what’s happened, and to look forward to what’s to come.

Starting today, I am on work hiatus until January 16, 2017. My email autoresponders are on. If you need me, don’t. I am excited to spend days not setting alarms. I plan on watching ALL the NetFlix, eating ALL the jollof rice and being as slothy as I can be. I owe myself some naps and a vacation.

Will I still be on social media? Sure. I’m not declaring a social media sabbatical, but I will also make it a point to detach more often from the news and all things stressful so there will be ample shenanigans from my end. If I have anything to say, they will be in the form of Facebook and Twitter statuses, and Instagram randomness. No blogposts coming. Long story short, I feel like I’ve more than earned the right to be completely selfish with my time. (I’m @Luvvie on every platform).

This year has been really exciting but also exhausting. I need to recharge my batteries, because I will need to have extra energy stored up for what’s to come after January 20. Also, Scandal comes back January 19 AND MY BODY GON BE READY FOR THAT.

God is good ALLATAHM. Talk to y’all in 2017. Catch me elsewhere. Or not.

drops mic obama gif


While you’re here, get my book for holiday gifts!

Buy I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual if you still haven’t! Amazon. Barnes & Nobles. iBooks. Audible (I narrated the audiobook myself). Kobo. Books-A-Million.

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31 Comments

  1. Tee Hails
    December 16, 2016 at 12:12 am

    So proud and honoured to watch your story and journey. You have earned every bit of rest.
    Thank you for being an inspiration.

  2. Biglilkim
    December 16, 2016 at 12:42 am

    So many wonderful and deserving accolades this year!!!! It’s been a pleasure witnessing your accomplishments. Wishing you just as much success going into 2017! Love ya!!

  3. Ashley
    December 16, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Wishing you even more success in 2017!!! You’re one of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen and you have every right to be selfish with your time. #TreatYoSelf

  4. December 16, 2016 at 3:36 am

    Congrats and you deserve the break!

  5. December 16, 2016 at 4:47 am

    You have earned the right to chill! Your accomplishments make me smile for you because you truly have had an amazing year! Enjoy your vacation!

  6. Lisa
    December 16, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Niceness. I’m so proud of you Luvvie.
    #luvvnation4life

  7. December 16, 2016 at 5:52 am

    What a YEAR! Enjoy your break and THANK you for being amazing! See you in 2017!

    Love ya!

  8. Rachel
    December 16, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Congrats on all of your success in ’16.

    I have your book (haven’t read it), but on my list of things to read over the holidays. I look forward to hearing more from you in ’17–enjoy your hiatus.

  9. SIPort
    December 16, 2016 at 6:35 am

    You deserve all the positive that has come your way. I got your book as a Christmas present for myself. I hope that your blessings continue to grow. See you in 2017.

  10. Sandra Sims-Williams
    December 16, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Luvvie, you are amazing and absolutely deserve a break. You wake us up and keep us fired up. You can ease into a quite reflective slumber and know we will be waiting for your brilliance when you return. Thank you for presenting in three locations for my organization. They are still reeling from your presentation. You left so much energy in the room. Rest, girl! You know you got it!

  11. Siima
    December 16, 2016 at 6:52 am

    So so so so so so proud of you and happy for you Luvvie!! Go rest. You promised us a stop on your international book tour and I simply must have a signed copy of your book! See you in Nairobi!

  12. Allyson
    December 16, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Very inspiring and motivational. Take rest because I can’t wait to see what you unleash in 2017

  13. Carroll Murphy
    December 16, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Girl, you’ve earned the right to rest!! God has kissed you and has mightly blessed you. We are also blessed to have been witness to the adventure. There is more to come, I’m sure!! Enjoy the break, because you know 2017 is going to be LIT!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  14. Yolanda
    December 16, 2016 at 7:49 am

    You deserve a break girlfruend!!!

  15. Laurie Oberg
    December 16, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Enjoy your well deserved rest.

  16. December 16, 2016 at 8:29 am

    You deserve the break. Have a wonderful rest period and I can’t wait to hear more in 2017!

  17. LLJ
    December 16, 2016 at 8:30 am

    This is beautiful! Bravo and Congratulations!!

  18. Kimberly
    December 16, 2016 at 8:33 am

    2016 has been good to you! I read this entire post with a big grin on my face. Congrats and enjoy your rest.

  19. December 16, 2016 at 9:01 am

    CONGRAUTULATIONS! Thank you, Luvvie, for dropping the goods. What a BANNER year, for you. And we get to share in your gifted journey. I appreciate your giving and service. I’m so happy for you.

    Happy Holidays, and all the best in the coming New Year.

  20. Bridgette
    December 16, 2016 at 10:02 am

    What an awesome year for you and you deserve ALL the rest. Enjoy your time off and I hope you have an even bigger 2017!

    Kudos.

  21. Mali
    December 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Well done Luvvie, you deserve all this success and that which is to come. Enjoy your time off. Happy New Year!

  22. Doreen
    December 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Congratulations on a fabulous year. Get your rest because 2017 is going to be a trip. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Oh, and can’t wait for the Scandal recaps…

  23. December 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Luvvie, my Love! You. Give. Me. LIFE!! I see you and I know that I still have dreams to fulfill. You show me that speaking MY OWN TRUTH is enough. I have something to say. I have wisdom to share and a whole new generation that needs to hear it. You. Inspire. Me. The beautiful chocolate girl who has gone through and is coming out on top!! I have doubted my gifts for far too long. Preparation time has come and gone. I’m ready. And I thank you for giving me the template to follow. Carry on Luvvie! Keep dreaming, reaching and doing! You make this old, Black woman proud!!

  24. KDAV
    December 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Thank you Luvvie – for being, who you are…for doing, what you do…for saying, what must be said…for acting, like a lady when you must and a fool when it’s called for! Thank you for your humor, (I’m Judging You was an awesome gift!!), your whit and your unforgiving attitude towards shenanigans!! But mostly, thank you for giving. us. life! Enuff to live and walk and cry and pray and laugh and work and love and support our OnyxCauses! I love you to the ends of the earth and I appreciate you being the Bae-In–My-Head and Ear! Much love, continued blessings and success – I’m looking forward to all that 2017 brings US! #LuvvNation4lyfe

  25. December 19, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    Proud to be straight LUVVNATION!!! Jokes aside, I’m hella proud of what you are doing and all that is to come!!!

  26. Tiffanie
    December 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I can’t remember the exact moment I discovered your website, but I am a proud citizen of LUVVNATION! I teared up a little while reading this post, because peak black excellence. Rest and recharge, because WE are going to need your Scandal update on January 20th.

  27. JaChri
    December 20, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Luvvie,

    I came across your website about 3 months ago & you impressed the hell out of me – with your intelligence, with your sense of humor.. as well as your (tremendous) sense of self, & your sense of humor. You know what time it is, & like Malcolm X & Paul Mooney you do not hesitate to call a spade a spade. You inspire me to do (more of) the same, in the little lane (of my life) in which I am presently.

    To paraphrase that former fast-food restaurant slogan – you do deserve a break. Not only today, but certainly for the rest of 2016 & into 2017. You definitely had an awesome 2016 & I can only imagine MORE BRILLIANCE from you in 2017.

    I’ve ordered your NYT best-selling book. I am officially on the “Luvvie train & have no intention of givin’ up my little spot on it. I will definitely pull a few others on board with me. I really look forward to see you do your thang in 2017.

    With much respect, & appreciation..

  28. Ande Clayton
    December 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I have been reading your blog for a long time. I am so proud for you and your accomplishments. I pray for you all the best in the coming year. Thank you for making me laugh when I really needed it and think when I really needed to do that too. Peace, sister.

  29. December 22, 2016 at 7:46 am

    You are truly an inspiration and have definitely earned the right to chill.

  30. Ronke Oke
    January 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I love the positivity and success that oozes from this post. Thank you. Congratulations on EVERYTHING you have achieved. May 2017 be just as successful and more.

  31. January 7, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Twenty-sixteen sounds like the year for you. I’m sure the climb will continue in 2017. Kudos and congratulations on all of your past, present, and future accomplishments! You definitely deserve a vacay after the year you had.