Black Love Summit: By the Hour
by Black Love Team



October 16, 2018


15 Minute Read


Black Love Summit: By the Hour

On Sunday, October 7th, couples and singles alike convened on Los Angeles, California at the W Hotel Hollywood for the first ever Black Love Summit. The couple that created the BLACK LOVE series on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) invited experts, celebrities and couples featured on the show to dig deeper into their personal stories and fellowship on fostering healthy relationships.  Below are some of the highlights from this inaugural event.

Married While Parenting with Chris & Vanessa Spencer | Moderator: Codie Elaine Oliver  

Vanessa and Chris Spencer

The balance of being married while parenting might already sound like a bit extra on a plate in our fast-paced society, but imagine if one spouse has a consistent traveling schedule and you have two babies under two? That’s exactly what writer and comedian Chris Spencer and his wife Vanessa dove into during their talk at The Black Love Summit.  The couple, whose children are now teenagers, spoke openly on how they have navigated the balance of being married while raising children.

Vanessa weighed in on her perspective of running the household while Chris was on the road.  

“I would talk to him and he would say, ‘Oh I’m so tired.’ Oh yeah…you’re tired traveling from island to island having fun covering events and playing golf in your down time,” she said in reference to Chris’s work trips that sometimes lasted 10 days. “I’ll tell you tired,” she continued.  “I have two kids 16 months apart. One just went to sleep, the other needs a diaper change. I felt like he was just out having fun and I was home all alone.”

“I had a lot of guilt, and when I’d come home it was like trying to double-dutch with jump ropes on fire…like how do I get in? Where do I fit in?” Chris said in reference to trying to find his way back into the parenting routine that Vanessa had developed every time he was away. The Spencers spoke on navigating the tension during this fast-paced season in their lives and how to communicate effectively with each other ensuring, to the best of their ability, that each spouse comes out on top at the end of conflict. “I really try to lean in when in conflict because I never want the other person to be walking away feeling like they weren’t whole or heard,” Vanessa said.  “We are in this together.”

Aspire TV presents The Biggest Mistakes Singles Make In Dating featuring TV host Leslie Antonoff and Relationship Coach Dr. Aesha 

Relationship Coach Dr. Aesha & TV host Leslie Antonoff

“Imagine buckling your belt on a plane, flying 30,000 miles in the air while leaning back, then asking the question ‘where are we going?’ That’s what jumping into a relationship feels like without doing your research on who you’re with.” Dr. Aesha and Leslie Antonoff, both married, dropped jewels like this in their panel discussion about the biggest mistakes singles make in dating. Laughter filled the room on multiple occasions as the two ladies illustrated real-life scenarios breaking down the myths of dating. 

“Dating is a skill set. It’s not something that just happens,”

“Don’t be somebody’s decade boo,” and “It’s important to not date somebody unless you know they are serious” were just some of the gems that resonated in the hearts of all who were listening. One major takeaway –– be an intentional dater.  By being intentional one can build long-lasting healthy relationships while avoiding the pitfalls of dating irresponsibly. 

Entrepreneurship vs Relationship with Felicia Latour & Gavin Mathieu and Kevin & Melissa Fredricks | Moderator: Diann Valentine  

Gavin Mathieu & fiance Felicia LaTour

Let’s get ready to rumble! In one corner, we have pursuing a thriving career, and in the other corner, we have pursuing a healthy relationship. Both require time, energy, and strategy. Throw parenting in the mix and we have a balancing act that can be extremely demanding. Entering the ring –– two brave couples who mentioned that “it’s not easy, but the benefits are well worth it.” Make-Up Artist and Digital Influencer Felicia Latour and her fiancé, Clothing Designer and Creative Director Gavin Mathieu spoke alongside Comedian Kevin Fredericks, known as KevOnStage, and his wife Melissa, who is used to a 9 to 5 job but exploring more entrepreneurial and creative endeavors.  The couples were asked: “how do you balance business and parenting?” They shared that they rely on technology-free zones –– selected times in which phones and social media are not allowed in their interaction with one another. “Intentional moments with our kids at the dinner table establish boundaries and a moment to truly connect, free from distractions.”

Gavin and Felicia, who are expecting their second child, answered the question: “how do you balance work and relationship.” “I surrender to whatever the moment is. I let my career take me to where I need to go. I lean on faith and by doing that I’m less stressed, I have less anxiety and it allows me to be present in my relationship,” said Felicia. Gavin echoed his fiancé’s words by stressing the importance of having a healthy balance and being aware of when adjustments need to made. The couples then ended their panel discussion by sharing the dreams they have for the future of their relationship.

Kevin’s dream was to see his wife succeed in her dreams.

Gavin expressed his dream of being able to travel continuously with his family. These couples left everyone in attendance with hope that balancing a successful career and relationship is extremely tangible and worth striving for. 

Seasons of Marriage with Catrina & Neil Brown Jr. | Moderator: Diann Valentine 

Catrina & Neil Brown Jr.

“Happily ever after is a really long time, therefore it’s important to be with someone who will weather the storm with you.” Catrina and Neil Brown Jr., married 18 years and together since high school, backed up their statement through transparent stories displaying the dynamics of how to make a marriage work. In a time where everybody desires to highlight the beauty of it all, the Browns had no problem expressing the struggles they faced to keep their marriage thriving. The two admitted that the “7-year itch” was real in their marriage.  They also discussed how easy it can be to get used to routine. Being rooted in friendship first really paved the way for them to be transparent, reminding one another that the grass is not greener on the other side. Vulnerability and honesty –– even if it hurts –– and knowing that in each other they have found their helpmate and best friend has kept this dynamic couple thriving for 25+ years. 

Faith + Marriage with Warryn & Erica Campbell | Moderator: Edwina Findley 

In media outlets today, we hear a lot about couples breaking up when times get tough. “So and so just broke up.” and “Such and such is going through that rough patch…will they make it?”  Warryn and Erica Campbell brought another story to the table when they opened up about how they navigated the difficulty of adultery with faith and therapy as their anchor. “My marriage at the beginning I liken to my Daddy’s suit –– it was too big and I had to grow into it,” Warryn began, speaking candidly about what it was like for him navigating such a difficult season and growing into being a husband.  “After a period of going to the strip club and hanging out, I started growing up and realizing who I am. I was in an identity crisis and I needed to find out who I was. I also didn’t know who she was in my life and I didn’t see it the way I was supposed to see it.”

“He made a mistake. He’s not a mistake,” Erica said on choosing forgiveness and leaning into her faith to release any tension in her heart.  Not only did she forgive Warryn, but she chose to forgive the woman who came into their marriage, even sitting down to talk it through with her. “Yeah, imagine being in that sandwich,” Warryn joked reflecting on that sit down. Years have passed since that moment and having put in the work, they were not only able to laugh about their history, but they desire God to use their testimony to help someone else. The couple, who are often referred to as a “power couple,” addressed that infamous title with this nugget of wisdom: “Your power is in your love and ability to laugh. If your marriage is a ministry don’t resist the feeling when God wants to use it.”

Clips + Conversation with Niecy Nash & Jay Tucker and Black Love Creators Tommy & Codie Elaine Oliver | Moderater: Shawn Finnie   

Creators of the Black Love series, Codie & Tommy Oliver

The immediate feeling upon stepping into “Clips and Conversation” was as if I’d walked into a village. As the final event of the summit, there was a sense of familiarity and a genuine realization that a family vibe had been established.  This vibe was made even more palpable with the candid truth that panelists Niecy Nash & Jay Tucker brought to the table. Moderator Shawn Finnie immediately felt like everybody’s cousin, and by the time the panelists were introduced, the stage was set for transparency to be the main star. Niecy & Jay broke down how they navigate having a blended family, and how vital it was to show unity amongst the parents to their kids, even having sometimes-awkward meetings with Niecy’s ex-husband, the father of her three children.

Jay repeated the phrase “staying committed to the commitment” as the foundation of their marriage. He stressed: “Making the decision to be married is making the decision to work.”

Niecy, through her natural humor, got all the way candid about being on her second marriage and finding her voice, “Communication is a learned behavior.  You have to ask; how does it serve you? Go in there and speak your truth even if your voice shakes, that’s the only way for you to be in integrity with yourself.” She also addressed preparing to be married even when there seems to be no prospects, “Be ready, and be in a prepared place. You want to be prepared for everything God has prepared for you. God ain’t never gonna send you a blessing when you’re not prepared for it.”

Codie and Tommy created a space through the BLACK LOVE series, and now through the Black Love Summit, where “Black Love stories can live”, as well as be represented in real and authentic ways.  This closing conversation was the icing on the well-layered cake of honesty, sincerity and celebration that was the Black Love Summit

READ HERE about Black Love Editorial Columnist, Arynetta Floyzelle’s TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS from Niecy Nash on HOW TO DATE FOR MARRIAGE. 

READ HERE about how Aaron White learned to be an ALL STAR HUSBAND at the Husband’s Panel.

READ HERE about how Viergeni White TALKED TEA WITH WIVES at the Wive’s Panel.

READ HERE about one couples TOP 5 TAKE AWAYS from the first ever Black Love Summit.