Brooke Valentine is a name that’s been synonymous with the Love & Hip Hop franchise, but it’s rare that we get to look at the star of the popular reality show without the filter of filming crews and studio sets. Oftentimes the major players of LAHH are flattened in the pop culture dialogue, compartmentalized into the moments of drama they express on air.
With the release of her latest project Sip, Valentine reminds us that she’s a three-dimensional, self-possessed woman in control of her image. Between dating in the industry and maneuvering through major life decisions, the “Girlfight” singer and actress is eager to share the gems she’s gained from her personal experiences.
While speaking with Brooke, I quickly found myself having what felt like a candid conversation with a longtime girlfriend about topics that you’d discuss with the girls at a slumber party. We touched on her nearly four-year sex sabbatical, the importance of self-love, how a health scare helped her define “a real one,” and the problem with dating today.
What track off Sip do you identify the most with at this point in your life?
It changes every day. It depends on my mood, so I would have to say for today, ‘Nookie,’ because it's just like, you wanna get some.
'Nookie' came up on the top of my list, too, for different reasons. Girl, I didn't have sex for almost three years. So that's all I've been thinking about…
Well guess what. I beat you out, because I went three years and ten months.
“Yes. I almost hit four. Listen, every day of your three-year journey, I understand.”
I definitely dealt with the, ‘Oh, you're not having sex? Where's the turtleneck?’ I don't understand how people make your life journey about them.
Every time I talk to people about that, it's basically like, why? And in all honesty, it wasn't that hard after the initial hump, but it was a very personal decision. Was that similar for you?
I agree with you 100 percent. People immediately thought it was a spiritual thing. It was just more so taking your power back. And I feel like, if you can control yourself in that area, you can control yourself in any area. Your finances, your education, your job, or whatever you got going on, it's like sex can drive you to places that you actually didn't want to go to.
I’ve found that it confuses people when you’re conservative with sex as a woman, but continue to openly exude your sexuality. Did you deal with that aspect?
I definitely dealt with the, ‘Oh, you're not having sex? Where's the turtleneck?’ I don't understand how people make your life journey and whatever decision that you decided to make, about them. If you're waiting, then you're waiting, and I don't think that a certain thing that a woman could wear is inviting the wrong attention.. We're all free to do what we want. Being celibate is just about that, taking your power back and doing what you want to do, no matter what anybody says about being influenced by sexuality.
This is your body, you own it, you can do what you want. I'm so tired of society trying to tell us that a certain way that we dress or talk or speak [is suggestive]. I did write sexual songs in the midst of my celibacy, that doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm talking about, or I don't plan to do it, or haven't done it before.
You recently released the video for “WhereDey@?” where you talk about trying to find a real one, but we all have different definitions of what “a real one” means. So what's real to you?
Last year in February around this time, I had ten lumps removed from my breast, and that was a pivotal time in my life where it's like, you got me, right? You still here? You down?
My real one was there for me every single day of that journey and didn't leave my side. He stopped his life. I'm here. I got you. Don't worry about it. That's a real one for me. Someone that's honest. Someone that's transparent, no matter what that is. If you're a cheater, be a cheater. Cheat loudly. That's a real one to me. I don't want to guess. I don't want to have to figure it out.
Somebody could say, ‘If a guy is lying, how is he real?’ He's being real about being a liar. If you decide you want to be with him still, at least you know what you're deciding to be with.
Yeah, the problem with dating is the mask. How thick is yours, and when are you gonna take it off?
So, with all that said, do you think it's hard to find a real one?
I definitely don't think it's hard to find a real one at all, once somebody sits down and really figures out what's real to them. Be honest with yourself.
But in order for you to understand yourself, you actually have to spend time with yourself, and man, people do not want to do that.
That is so true. Being alone does not immediately equal lonely. I love being alone. It was magical to me. I loved sleeping on both sides of my bed. I love my space. I'm alone, but I'm not lonely. That comes from a lot of self-love and a lot of self-care.
Well, since you mentioned self-love--what's something you've learned about yourself when it comes to self-love that you wish you knew before?
I wish I knew before how cool I was. Just me, as the person that I am, naturally. I'm cool. I feel beautiful. I feel loved. I feel whole, and I will say that certain relationships in my past, or the main relationship in my past, didn't allow me to feel that way about myself. Once I separated from that, and I was able to just be with me, I feel like my life finally began. It's like, the whole time I thought I was living, right? Then it's like, you were just surviving. You would just wake up and go through the motions. I'm living now. Now I'm living comfortably in my own skin.
A lot of people assume that when it comes to dating and love, it's not really an issue for celebrities, because you seem to have more reach. What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have when it comes to dating as a celebrity?
I can date the most amazing, well-known, biggest rapper, biggest movie player, or type of player in the world on social media, go to a nice dinner, and be like, ‘I have no idea who you are. What are you even talking about? I don't know how to have a conversation with you.’
Everybody does it. This is not exclusive to celebrities.
That's what a lot of us deal with in this industry with dating someone else in the industry. Who are you, really? Who are you outside of your posts? Who are you outside of your bank accounts? Who are you when the lights go off? When the show is over, who are you?
That kind of answers my last question, which is what you think the problem with dating is. But, it sounds like it's just that--not really knowing who you're messing with.
Yeah, the problem with dating is the mask. How thick is yours, and when are you gonna take it off? Because everybody wears one at some point. I think it's more of us learning when and when not to make someone else suffer for our negative moments and mood swings, and the world would be a better place. So a mask is necessary sometimes. But at what point do I really know who I'm dealing with, who I'm really kicking it with? When do I really get to see you?”