Writing Black

Love, family and comedy with Mr. and Mrs. KevOnStage

Episode 24
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Maiysha Kai sits down with Mr. and Mrs. KevOnStage to talk about their new book “Marriage Be Hard” which is about the ups and downs of marriage. They also discuss how they couldn’t afford dinner on their honeymoon, KevOnStage being compared to Idris Elba, how parents can cause unintentional trauma and growing up in the church. 

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Melissa Fredericks and Kevin Fredericks attend the 53rd NAACP Image Awards Nominees Reception. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black podcast network Black Culture Amplified. 

Maiysha Kai [00:00:06] Hello and welcome back to Writing Black. This is your host, as always, Maiysha Kai, lifestyle editor here at theGrio. And today I have a pair of guests who I’m super excited to talk to. You know, you will be very familiar with at least one of these guests, but really should be familiar with both. This is Kevin and Melissa Fredericks, also known as Mr. and Mrs. KevonStage and by KevonStage, I mean the NAACP nominated KevonStage. That’s 2023. Yazz.

KevonStage [00:00:39] And Melissa is also nominated as well. 

Maiysha Kai [00:00:41] Listen, and I missed that part, so please forgive me, Melissa. You know, we’ve got a pair of influencers here that doesn’t always happen for us and a pair of influencers who are not only married, but have written a book on the topic called Marriage Be Hard. And, you know, part of the reason I was excited to do this, I follow you both on social media and, you know, have been delighted by your content for years, delighted by your family and watching them grow and all of that good stuff. 

[00:01:08] Hi, Isaiah, Welcome to the show. Oh, yeah. Nice to meet you. People have requested in the comments to see you here. But you said before they didn’t want to be here and now you’re here. So that’s great. Um, so. 

[00:01:23] I know your podcast, The Love Hour. I know you’re no longer doing it, but, you know, we were happy it was there. And as somebody’s on the precipice of marriage myself, that’s a that’s a new disclosure to our listeners. But, you know, we’re not we’re not here about that. I was very interested in Marriage Be hard. So I’m going to just start right in like, you know, you’ve been talking about love for years, but why did you feel it was the right time to write a book on this? And, you know, 18 years into your marriage now or maybe going on 19, I would assume by now that the book has been published. You know, why did you feel the time was right to really put this to the page and bring this to your respective audiences and hopefully new ones? 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:02:06] Yeah, I think we have been doing The Love Hour podcast and we knew we were sunsetting that and I think we wanted to kind of encompass everything we had learned up until that point. We definitely wanted to write the book that we wish we had to read before we got married. In our early parts of marriage, we would be asking questions about marriage and Hey man, this is not going right. And everybody around was like, No, this is perfect. This is fine. You are going to be just make it to year to year, five, year seven. Like, yeah, but how you get there with the intact you know how you how you how you handle this and that there and I think that’s our book much like our like the podcast was about being honest about our relationship as it was happening. You know Marriage Be Hard isn’t a book from Two People on the Mountaintop of a successful marriage looking down at you and telling you, Here’s how you get up here, kids. Why you struggle. It’s about people who are climbing alongside you saying, Hey, that rock right there is sturdy, but the one over there is a little loose. So don’t grab that one. And I think that authenticity is what drew people to the book, is that we were really trying to be as open and honest about our relationship in the hopes that, you know, people could glean from us and, you know, we could help where we could while we navigated the world as it was. 

Marriage Be Hard Excerpt [00:03:23] If you and your spouse are going to build a healthy life together, you will need to get comfortable visiting and revisiting a whole range of topics together, from infidelity to sex to the way you navigate fights and disagreements, You’re even going to have to talk about talking. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:03:41] Yeah. I think with the love our being. However many episodes we did, I don’t even know. You know, sometimes people need a central location of some of the best information that we were able to offer through the Love hour. And I think the book is our I don’t want to call it our gift, but our offering back to our audience as we were closing the love our. That’s like this is if you missed the episode, this book is going to have the information for you. It’s kind of a one stop shop of everything we learned and shared on the podcast in book form. And then there’s, you know, obviously some stuff that isn’t all shared in the podcast. You know, there’s some new things in there as well, but it’s also just our offering as we were closing that specific chapter of our lives. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:04:30] Mm hmm. 

Maiysha Kai [00:04:31] Well, you know, obviously, being partners in life and in work is no small feat. And I think, you know, you all do a really artful job here of, you know, not just taking us through the trajectory of your relationship, but the trajectory of what partnership really looks like and that it’s something that has to be even the most powerful couples. Because, you know, we always you know, power couples are so aspirational. I think you guys are aspirational. But what that means to have to kind of like level up together again and again and again and readjust again and again and again. And I want to really, like, dig into that whole thing because I think like one of the most refreshing things I found about the book was that we hear both of your individual voices. It wasn’t just like, Oh, we’re just going to, you know, write a thing and put both our names on it. And maybe there’s a ghost writer we don’t know yet. You know, like we really got these individual takes from each of you, these individual perspectives of unique situations that I think almost all of us have encountered. And, you know, tell me about the process of writing this book, like how you came together to kind of craft these what ended up being a really great and unified piece. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:05:46] Thank you. Definitely a ghost Writer. 

Maiysha Kai [00:05:50] Shout out to the ghost writers and I want to have more of them here on Writing Black Because people do not credit them enough. And I love it when people do. So, yeah, Yes, on that. Yeah. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:00] Shout out to her. She was actually really, really phenomenal, actually. And intricate. 

Maiysha Kai [00:06:04] Who is your ghostwriter? 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:07] Her name is. Oh, don’t give me the. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:09] Laura Hopper. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:09] Hopper. Yes, Yes. Laura Harper. Oh, yes. Thank you. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:13] Soon as we started talking about I was like, I know it, I know it. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:06:16] She is phenomenal. She was a fan and listened to the podcast like faithfully. And so she was just really, really great. But the process of writing this book was extremely like therapeutic on both ends. So on one end its therapeutic because you’re able to like remember how far you’ve come. So we shared the story from our honeymoon. We went to Ruth’s Chris and we couldn’t afford to walk through the door. There was no reason we were there . I don’t know why we made the reservation till it was your honeymoon. Yeah, it was our honeymoon. We thought it was a good idea. Let’s go. We’re going to have steak. It’s going to be fantastic. And couldn’t afford the menu. 

Marriage Be Hard Excerpt [00:07:00] Before our honeymoon, the most expensive restaurant we had been to was Red Lobster on prom night. (For the record, Melissa got the Admiral’s Fest for $22.99.) At Ruth’s Chris, I saw that the least expensive entree was a $36 stuffed chicken breast. We figured we would order two chicken breasts and asked the waitress what it came with. It’s a la carte, she said. I didn’t speak French, with the exception of a la mode. She explained that the sides were $11 or $12 each. I did the math in my head and came to the conclusion that if we ordered dinner we would live in Ruth’s Chris because there would be no money left for the cab back to the hotel. I asked the waitress to give us a few minutes to decide what we wanted. When she walked away, I turned to Liss. “We can’t afford to eat here,” I said. When no one was looking. We made an exit through the kitchen, down an alley and around the corner to a burger joint where we got two cheeseburgers for $11. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:07:47] So, like, we needed to get up out of there. But then we went there again. Like, we had never gone from a honeymoon up until our 10th year anniversary. And it’s just again, that’s just one of those stories that very much, yeah, we’ve come a long way, like even since our ten year anniversary approaching 19 years. This year it’s almost ten years later since then. Yeah, Yeah. So even that is just like now. We’ve come a long way. I have the memories. I was just sharing this of we lived in Washington state. Kevin didn’t have a car. He was working at Burger King and couldn’t get a ride home at 10:00 at night when it closed. And I’m begging my mom to let me go pick up my new boyfriend from Burger King so he doesn’t have to walk home like we have all of those those memories and be you don’t think about that all that often in the book because they’re constantly like, we need that story and their story. What about another story? 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:08:47] Girl, this is my whole life. Everything in my life is in here. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:08:50] Listen, I’ve only lived one life. I’m giving you the stories, okay? But it forces you to recall and recount and remember. And so in some ways, that’s it’s a gift the book gave to us. This other thing I also would call a gift. It just came differently packaged. Okay. The other thing is that it also allowed you to realize that there’s a pile of laundry that you’ve walked past for years and no one has sorted it. No one has cleaned it. No one has gone through to say this is too small. We should stop doing. I don’t wear that anymore. Hey, actually, this is dingy. Let me get rid of it. Actually, I love this. Can we start doing this? Like, can I start wearing this again? We haven’t we yet. We didn’t go through our dirty laundry. It was a pile over there. We walk past it every day. Yeah, but we just wasn’t going through it. And so the book also allowed us to do that as well to actually we’re talking about this stuff. Well, if we going to talk about it, let’s be about it. You know, let’s let’s go through and sort of sort all of this through. Let’s have these conversations. Let’s start therapy, let’s do the things and act out on the things that we are talking about in the book. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:10:04] Yeah. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:10:05] So again, another gifted just came differently packaged. 

Maiysha Kai [00:10:08] Listen, you know, I’m a I think we all know now why you are also a 2023 and NAACP Image Award nominee. Yeah so there’s that but yeah you know I, I was stunned by so many things in this book and I want to get into all of them and especially, you know, I love that you just pointed out the fact that you guys are like, you know, almost 19 years in the game and you are not aged people. So we’re going to get into that in just a second. When we come back with more writing Black with Kevin and Melissa Fredericks and Marriage Be Hard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:10:42] All right. We are back with more Writing Black and Kevin and Melissa. Fredericks, also known as Mr. and Mrs. KevOnStage. If you don’t know them, you should, because they are so much fun, both individually and together and together. They wrote Marriage Be Hard, which is a I think a really wonderfully refreshing and ground breaking memoir and, you know, compendium of advice on how to be married, how to stay married, how to navigate marriage. And I just really I personally appreciate it. I’m sure your listeners and your readers and your fans have appreciated it. But really, your story, I mean, you guys have been together at this point, I would assume, over half your life that we have. Yes. The longer that you haven’t. So, you know, you start in high school, you know, you meet you know, Cav describes you. Melissa is like, you know, he walks into the room and he’s stunned by your beauty and, you know, and not just your beauty, but your presence, like the way you commanded a room. I’m seeing it here. I get exactly what he got. I’m like, I get it. Like, you know, because you’re the kind of person I’m like, I want to be your friend. I want to hang out like, you know. You know, that’s and that’s a unique quality. But you also talk about, you know, both of you being churched, which, you know, I think Black folks I think Black folks, whether you’re churched or not, you at least know churched people. And so, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s a lot to to come with. And I think you were really brave in in this book in tackling the ways in which the church both enabled in many ways but also maybe kind of hindered hindered is the. That’s an excellent word. I heard your your marriage especially in those early days. I know I want people to read those books. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I would love to hear you guys talk about it. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:12:40] Yeah, I think that, you know, no person in authority over whether to your parents or, you know, pastor, they mean you no harm. They are 100% absolutely doing the best that they can with the information that they have in front of them. It is a grace, as I just said this, as a 40 year old woman, I offer my mom, my both my parents, but my mom specifically because I am now a woman. Yeah. I offer her so much grace retroactively because I just couldn’t understand as a teenager what she was going through as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as an as a career woman. Like, I just couldn’t understand it. And now that I’m almost 40, I’m approaching 40. I’m like, Ooh, girl, I understand it in a way I didn’t understand. So I’m going to offer you some retroactive grace because I understand you was doing the best you could. And that’s essentially that’s church people. Okay, listen, they doing the best they can, okay? They don’t mean us no harm. And there is a lot of grace that I extend, however, but also plus. 

Maiysha Kai [00:13:53] Also and as well. I like to say yes. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:13:55] Come on also and as well. 

Marriage Be Hard Excerpt [00:13:58] When you grow up in the church, marriage is set up for you as a fairy tale, a promise that if you follow the rules, you’ll get everything you ever wanted in more. But sometimes that promise doesn’t deliver. We had those expectations, but when we got the reality of what marriage is, the reality we didn’t see at the end of movies when the prince and princess ride off on beautifully groomed horses, we weren’t prepared for much of what we found. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:14:21] That doesn’t mean it didn’t come without unintentional harm, unintentional trauma, unintentional, you know, I call it brainwashing sometimes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:14:32] Yeah. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:14:33] That, you know, affects me in a very real way to this day, especially when you’re talking about sexuality. Like that is something that we got to do better. We got to do better as Black people. We got to do better as Black church people. As, you know, Christians. We have to do a better job of I always want to say reconciling, but reconciling is to assume that they’re opposing and they’re not. Christianity and sexuality were designed together. We separated them, not God. And for some reason we have surrounded sex and sexuality with so much shame. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:16] Yes. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:15:16] That even when we’re talking about, you know, marriage and, you know, that’s where Christians believe that sex is, you know, that’s the sacred ground in which you can enjoy sex and you’re still walking in shame. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:30] Right. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:15:30] That we’re doing some wrong. Now, come on, we go. We’re doing something wrong. We have to do better about teaching people to enjoy sex, to explore their bodies, to to recognize it as something that God created. And is good. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:45] Yeah. No, I love that. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:15:46] I went off on a tangent a little bit. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:47] You really didn’t, though, because I you know, one of the things I loved about the book actually gave it was your take as well, where it’s like, you know, God didn’t just create marriage, you know, or unions that God created pleasure, you know, like we are anatomically, you know, designed to not just procreate but to create pleasure for ourselves and for others. And I think that that’s a discussion that we don’t always have, particularly those of us who are rooted in church to address tradition. And I love that that is something that you as a couple had to navigate and that you shared that journey with us, because I don’t think it’s an easy one. And I and it’s one that I actually, you know, I can say this is a woman who is well into her forties. Now it comes up again and again. It does It’s not a stagnant conversation is not like you just figure out one day like, oh, I like these things. And that’s like your life for the next 50 years. Like, you know, that changes and changes. It changes in the scope of a relationship and it definitely changes the scope of a marriage. We’re going to get into that a little bit more because I want to delve into the chapter Sex Be Hard, but we’re going to do it and not always in that good way. But I’m going to get into in just one second when we come back with more Writing Black. 

Maiysha Kai [00:16:58] We are back with more Writing Black and Melissa and Kevin Fredricks, also known as Mr. and Mrs. KevOnStage who have written Marriage Be Hard. And you know, you guys listen, I know you say it be hard. Ya’ll make it look easy. I know it’s not always easy. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:17:13] It’s a lie. don’t know if we like, we might make it look easy. I mean, interrupt you for the question. 

Maiysha Kai [00:17:21] No, listen. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:17:22] I think on social media, we all post our best picture. 

Maiysha Kai [00:17:25] Yeah. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:17:26] Right. We take our best selfie. You know, there are some pictures that we was at the NAACP Image Award nominee luncheon, and I was wearing a white undershirt. I used to wear Black. And I was I was taking my picture on the exhale and I said, dang, I got to go on and suck in, but I didn’t take the picture. If that was me, that picture would have never got posted. I go, You let me suck in and then take the picture. But I think we as people fill in the blanks positively. As long as you’re not posting the negative. And very few people are like, Well, me and her just got into an argument and here’s how we look right now, let’s post that, we just don’t do that as people. So people tend to think, Oh, it’s perfect, it’s great. Look at how beautiful they both are and how tall and handsome he is and how physically fit he is and how just like, man, what a Jason Momoa. Idris Elba, KevOnStage. Jonathan Majors, what is the difference? And I know people feel like that, but there is a difference, especially between those three. But that’s another reason we wrote the book is because you can see these pictures, but now look at the behind the scenes of this and understand that we do love each other immensely, but we also are working to love the current version of each other. And that’s works. This book is like is what that work looks like. 

Maiysha Kai [00:18:38] That’s real. That’s real, and I want to talk about it more. We’re going to do that when we come back with more Writing Black and Kevin and Melissa Fredericks in a moment. 

Maiysha Kai [00:18:48] We are back with more Writing Black and Kevin and Melissa Fredericks. You might know them as Mr. or Mrs. KevOnStage, and if you haven’t read it already, you should be reading Marriage Be Hard, because I am personally getting so much out of it. You know, I promised earlier I was going to talk about sex, and I do want to talk about it because sex be hard, yo. I think people think. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:19:09] It be hard, yo. 

Maiysha Kai [00:19:11] Whether you are whether you’re starting out at it or, you know, trying to spice it up or, you know, listen, I’m a woman of a certain age now and I will say hormones, hormones be hard, be hard. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:19:26] Hormones be hard. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:19:31] Who asked you to come over acting like that. 

Maiysha Kai [00:19:35] I had a routine. I knew how this went. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:19:37] You know I did it. You know, you’re messing stuff up now. Sit down somewhere. 

Maiysha Kai [00:19:42] But, you know, I’m always interested. And this is usually a question I don’t get to ask anybody except for, like, the romance writers that I interview. I’m always interested in when you are writing sex, you know, talking about sex is never easy. It’s not easy in person. I don’t know. I, I have not written about sex yet. I’m sure it’s on my horizon as a writer, but you know, you are churched folk. Tell me about the process of writing a whole chapter on sex, even within the construct of marriage, which, you know, is supposed to be more acceptable. But tell me about this, how this how this went. You know, I don’t know. I’m starting to think like maybe I probably should have felt a little bit of a heavier burden about writing it, but I really didn’t. And I think the reason I know, I’m like, ooh, I don’t know if that’s right, though, but I think the reason why is because I really do believe that you help people through your transparency. And I think that we do grow, I mean, to the point of social media and this idea that we. For a people. We grow up thinking that, like our lives are so isolated and unique and different. Everyone else is out here living a perfect life. You know, social media, social media telling people have a new outfit every single day when they work out. Their refrigerators are neatly and nicely organized. Their house is always immaculate and their marriages are perfect. 

Maiysha Kai [00:21:11] And they always have the good light. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:13] O the lighting’s always perfection and their kids pose in pictures. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:19] Right? 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:21] Like. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:22] It’s so funny that you mention that because we just post family pictures. 

Maiysha Kai [00:21:24] I saw them. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:26]  JoJo smiled the whole way through that. That boy smiled in the pictures you see. There’s 68 more pictures where. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:34] He was like, I clocked out. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:35] I clocked. He gave up. 

Maiysha Kai [00:21:37] They were charming. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:38] 20 minutes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:21:38] They were charming pictures. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:21:39] But I was like, little boy, I’m about to fire you out of my family. I literally want you replaced. Like, how can I need someone new? No, but I think that’s what it is. And so when you think about your situation, okay, you’re comparing the reality of your situation to what you’re even believing of other people. And you always feel like you are broken. Yeah, you’re doing it wrong. You ain’t got it right. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with us? What’s wrong with this was wrong. My kids, why my house? All of these things, you know, Listen, everybody got a beautiful white house, white kitchen with the goal and the this and that, and you’re like,. 

Maiysha Kai [00:22:26] Pot fillers. Why they all have pot fillers? 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:27] The pot fillers. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:28] The pot fillers. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:29] Listen, you’re like, not me in here with this dry wood. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:33] Listen. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:34] And this carpet and my lights are yellow, like, I don’t even have natural light. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:39] Like people’s houses be dirty on Wednesdays. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:41] Come on. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:43] You clean up on the weekend and probably clean on Monday. But on Wednesday you going. Through it. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:22:48] Listen, that’s real life and I think that’s the thing about sex we have to remember that is hard for a lot of us, man. A lot of us have things that we have that we believe about ourselves. We have things that we believe about sex, about how it should work, how it should operate, how I should look, how I should interact. And when it doesn’t match up to whatever this ideal you have child that is that is ripe ground for conflict. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:23:18] I totally agree with Melissa. I think what we brought to the table is an honest look at sex that I think most people who are living in their truth know. Right. Like one of them, I hesitate to say a mistake because it wasn’t a planned mistake, but nevertheless still a mistake. One of the biggest mistakes I made coming into marriage was letting media infiltrate my mind and set me up for what I thought sex would be like. Right? I didn’t have parents. I keep hitting you, I’m sorry. I do this a lot with my hands. I didn’t realize it, but I didn’t have. 

Maiysha Kai [00:23:56] You just want to be close. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:23:57] I do. I do. I just want to love on her. My parents weren’t telling me. “Well, you know, son, you know, I know movies make it seem like you’re gonna have sex every day. Me, your mother, you average about, you know, 3 to 7 times a month,” right? Nobody was telling me that in the movies, it’s hot and steamy as soon as you come home from work. So I’m expecting hot and steamy soon as you come from work. And the biggest problem was when we went to the honeymoon, we delivered on the promise of the promise. Right. Because we down in San Diego, uh, San Francisco, having the time of our life. What I didn’t anticipate is real life. You come home on Tuesday and in Washington, you know, in in the fall, it’s dark. Pitch Black at 4:30 and Melissa and worked all day and I didn’t work. And she gotta cook. I gotta clean up. And that’s not happening on your honeymoon. And then the real life starts to set in. But that part isn’t shown in the movies. And my parents didn’t warn me and nobody at church warned me, and that’s now my reality. So Melissa and I were like, Why don’t we talk about this part as well? So people would at least know what to expect and have they have something else to throw into their mind when you throw in the movies and the 50 Shades of Gray and whatever you’ve watched and Players Club and Love Jones and all that stuff, throw in there sometimes y’all going to have sex and it’s just going to be real quick because she loves you in real quick because he loves you and you’re just going to have a fast food burger. Sex every night. Ain’t the two hour experience at the steakhouse. 

Maiysha Kai [00:25:24] Right. It ain’t Ruth’s Chris. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:25:26] Every time it ain’t Ruth’s Chris. Some days it’s just well, I got to stop by Chick-Fil-A and get these nuggets because I don’t feel like cooking and I’m hungry sometimes. Be like that and you goint to, listen. Your stomach won’t appreciate them all. But I think that’s kind of how our approach was so that you would understand if you’re reading that this is a more accurate look at what your life is going to look like. And that’s going to change when you have kids. It’s going to change you pregnant, after pregnancy. The kids age grow with health issues. That’s all going to be changing along with everything else in your life changing. So. That was our approach. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:00] I love it. We are going to get back into that. And another word that comes up a lot in this book, which is vulnerabilities. I want you all to meditate on that, Mr and Mrs. Fredericks. And we will be right back with more Writing Black. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:16] All right. We are back with more Writing Black and Melissa and Kevin Fredericks, who, you know, I’m just so delighted to have you guys here. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:26:24] We’re having a good time. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:24] We really pull it. I love that. I love hearing that. We really try to pull in, you know, writers from across genres, across experiences. And this is just so refreshing to me to have a couple of because we don’t typically have more than one writer on the time. So this is exciting. And to have you all giving us, you know, such a lens into your relationship, I think is really fun too, because again, both of you are well known on social media. Both of you are great at what you do, but you know, you really are letting us into the mechanics of what makes your marriage work. And I think, you know, some real tools that those of us who are navigating marriages ourselves, you know, or even just, you know, committed relationships can use to make them work. And, you know, transparency is huge. But another word that comes up a lot in marriage be hard is vulnerability. And I think like it comes up a lot for a reason. I think it’s the hardest thing for most of us to navigate. Even those of us, we’re out of relationships. We look at like, you know, the way social media works these days and the posturing that people do. And I really think a lot of that is due to a fundamental lack of empathy. But to have empathy requires vulnerability, right? It requires being in touch with your own emotions. So I would love to hear about how each of you in your own ways discovered how to make vulnerability a regular component of your lives and your marriage. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:27:54] Sure you want to jump in. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:27:56] Good ahead. You, sir. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:27:57] For me, I remember Melissa’s request for more vulnerable vulnerability before it was worded that way. It started off as. I want to have more deep conversations. Feel like we’re not connecting as much. So, you know, my first answer to that was when I come home from work, I turn my phone off and I won’t be distracted because I was only answering to the connection part. That wasn’t quite it. And the deep conversations, like on a girl we used to do that when she was young, you know, on the phone or not, you know, they’d be saying, I know you now. Right. And that wasn’t quite it. And then as we aged and learned more, the words were vulnerability, vulnerability. And and what that looked like for me to her was sharing my excitement, but also my fears. Yeah, right. At that point, I was still under the belief that a man held his problems in and he didn’t share any fears with his wife. That’s what a man did, because that’s what my dad did. He didn’t share any issues like that. So to be afraid was to be weak for me. But to share that fear with my wife was to be vulnerable. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:29:06] So it’s still a work in process. We were just having a conversation last night. Melissa had asked me something and I was I was dancing around the question and the answer, and she just kept asking and asking and asking, not in a nagging way, but like in a direct. Well, let me be clear. Here’s what I’m asking. Well, let me be even more clear. Here’s what I’m trying to get in. Here’s what I’m trying to solve for. So that allowed me to realize I wasn’t really being honest or I wasn’t I was being honest. I wasn’t being vulnerable. Right. Because I was trying to protect her or try to protect myself. So that vulnerability looked like answering the question that she was asking, even though that meant that her response might not be what I’m asking for at the time. But she was going to make that attempt. And I remember saying last night that was very vulnerable for me to say that to you, because if it doesn’t work out now, I’ve exposed myself to the opportunity that things might not pan out the way I want them to. And that to me is part of vulnerability, like sharing your truth beyond just the successes, sharing your fear, sharing your honesty, not necessarily trying to protect your partner, not necessarily being mean. I don’t mean to be unkind, but sometimes in our relationship at least, we ended up hurting each other, trying to protect each other from what you are. Know how she’s going to take this. I’m just not going to say it. I’m not going to word it that way. You can share your honesty in a kind way and and not protect your partner and let them, you know, wrestle with that on their own. But we avoided that with each other, trying to protect each other. And it ended up in our relationship having a a backfiring effect. Right. Trying to protect her. Ended up being hiding stuff from her, shielding her from stuff or not sharing my honesty. So vulnerability is a lot of those things. But for me, mainly it’s about sharing the whole 360 degree feeling of my feelings, not just what I want her to know, not just what I think she can take. 

Marriage Be Hard Excerpt [00:31:03] The lack of clear communication between us made me feel like my contribution wasn’t valued and that my husband didn’t want to work with me. It was a clear case of bad communication, but the check in allowed us to work through our feelings, hear each other, understand each other, and end up on the same page. 

Marriage Be Hard Excerpt [00:31:22] A lot of times we fail to effectively communicate for fear of what our partners will think, feel or say. We think we’re protecting their feelings, but theirs end up getting hurt. I have started encouraging Melissa to speak up for herself because for too many years I was writing Melissa’s responses for her in my head, and those responses were always negative. 

Maiysha Kai [00:31:40] But also, yes. Show me where you hurt. Right? 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:31:43] Show me where you hurt. Show me your fears. Let me know how that made you feel. Even saying stuff like what you said hurt my feelings. Like as a Black man. I felt like “You ain’t never hurt my feelings.” I’m a man. You can’t hurt me. But you can. 

Maiysha Kai [00:31:57] Bulletproof, right? 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:31:58] And you did. And I’m not bulletproof. Right. And when you left, I was like, Ooh. And I didn’t like you. Yeah, right. So sharing that did not feel many felt like the contrariness to manhood. But that is also vulnerable. And that allows her to understand what she does that hurts me so that she can not do those things and vice versa. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:32:24] Yeah, I would say that, you know, vulnerability is really exposing yourself to harm. And I think the reality is we do like love. 

Maiysha Kai [00:32:34] So is marriage, isn’t it? 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:32:35] Exactly. That’s exactly what I was going to say. The reality is we do a lot of things every single day that exposes us emotionally to harm. I think sometimes when you’re like, kind of keyed in on it, that’s when we feel like we begin to feel like we need to protect ourselves. And I think the the the beauty in relationship and what I the beauty that I’m finding in our relationship is recognizing that all of that is safe with you. That is when you get to the depth of a relationship that is so like, I know you got me because I’ve shared every I’ve given you the ammunition to turn around and hurt me. And instead you’ve embraced it and you’ve protected it. That’s love. That’s relationship. That’s marriage. That’s the beauty and the separation of a marriage and the relationship you might you have with your mama or your sisters or your kids or your best friend, is that I would hope the person that you can be fully exposed to. Is your partner. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:33:47] Yeah. 

[00:33:48] And that’s what I’m, you know, that’s what I’m striving for. So even when I often talk about vulnerability, I often talk about transparency. All of these components that I say are required for communication. It’s honesty, transparency and vulnerability. But all of these components that are needed for communication, if you feel like you know your relationship is superficial or you feel like, Oh, we’re just not getting to, it’s probably because you’re like, I feel like you’re we’re not all the way. We’re not all the way connected. I’m feeling like there is something missing and I’m not the truest rice, most authentic, most vulnerable person with you. And we all need that safe space to take off the armor to take, you know, Listen, we Black over here. You got to go out the threshold of your door. And if you’re a Black man, there’s a lot of armor you have to put on. Yeah, there’s a lot of pretending and tap dancing and different things you have to do to be accepted. You know, I’m Black, I’m tall. Let me look less harm. Let me smile. Let me take my hood off. Let me do. Oh, I’m a woman, let me not say that with so much attitude. Let me not snap my fingers. Let me not appear to be sassy. Let me. Girl with my partner, I should be able to just be. I should be able to just be. And that form of being is vulnerable because I’m going to let you see me not in the performative me that I have to do when I lead threshold, I get to be authentically me and you get to decide if you like it. You get to decide once you see it, if you’re going to stay with me and love me in spite despite and because of. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:35] Yes,. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:35:36] That’s good. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:37] Yeah. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:35:37] That was a really good list. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:38] Yes. You better preach. I mean, I was sitting there and I was like, That’s right. Because jump in the room and walking over that threshold are two different things. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:35:45] Come on. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:46] I just really I really appreciate that. That was really. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:35:50] Yeah, she’s very profound. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:51] She’s super profound. I’m sitting there like. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:35:53] It just flows out of her like water out of a faucet. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:55] I love it. I love it, I love it. You know, I do want to say, you know, first of all, thank you guys so much for for coming on the podcast and being so honest, transparent and vulnerable with your truth. And also thank you for this book. And I want to say the full title of the book, which, you know, I think really, if people haven’t engaged with it yet, you know, we’re talking about love right now. Valentine’s Day is upon us. And, you know, Marriage Be Hard is part of the title, but it’s Marriage Be Hard: 12 Conversations to Keep You Laughing, Loving and Learning with Your Partner. So this is it just, you know, you guys dishing on your personal narrative. It’s also, you know, how we can all kind of navigate it gives us a kind of touchstone in a guide book to continue to use. And I can’t I personally thank you for that because I think we can all use it. But what’s next for you, I guess as a couple and, and, and individually, because you have these individual careers, pop it off. That’s a big question, apparently. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:36:54] TV and films, child. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:36:56] TV and film, probably. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:36:57] I don’t know why that sigh was so deep and long. 

Maiysha Kai [00:37:00] You know, we saw the family pictures and I saw that a lot of people ask, they were like, when’s the sitcom we need to. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:06] You’ll never see a sitcom with those kids in it.  Not Isiah, Josiah Fredericks. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:09] My Jo, yesterday, we actually took a meeting yesterday and I was talking to him. I was like, “Jo, would you ever act?” And he was like, “Well, you know, I like to get paid. You know, I like money. “I was like, “Little boy.”

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:23] I won’t cast him. He’s blackballed in my production. 

Maiysha Kai [00:37:26] You’re not casting him. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:27] I ain’t casting them. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:29] They’re regular teenagers. You hear me? They’re the regular temperamental teenagers. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:34] Unless the show is about going to watch Marvel movies as a family, I don’t know what else they would do. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:39] They are the best. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:40] But no TV and film is probably the best thing. The thing that we that we are working on that we be most excited to get. We don’t have anything to announce as of yet, but that is what we are striving towards. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:52] Yeah, definitely. I just going to double down that on the yet part. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:57] Yeah. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:37:58] Hallelujah. Amen. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:38:00] Halleluja. Amen. But also plus always. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:38:01] We’ll be right back with more Writing Black. So you know, this is Writing Black. It’s a podcast about Black writers and words. What do you read? What inspires you? What what books or writers have inspired you over the years? 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:38:17] Over the years? So I actually have two of my favorite. They’re actually audio books and they are my absolute favorite. The first is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I think she is a beautiful storyteller. She just shares a lot of her, her life, her life’s lessons, being a wife, being a mother, being a Black woman in politics, like, you know, just sharing all of the things that it’s just like super, super relatable to me. And the audio book specifically was just so beautifully done. I just it’s just one of those experiences that I feel like audio books should be is Becoming. The second because I’m such like a I’m not all the way into fiction. I prefer nonfiction than like memoirs and self-help books. So the other one would be Will Smith’s Will is another book where I feel like he is just sharing his life. He shares a lot of his life’s learning lessons, and it’s very introspective and reflective. And the book itself, the audiobook itself is just so incredibly done with the, you know, there’s music in there and there’s news clippings in his voice. And it’s just it’s also extremely vulnerable. Those are just, you know, things that I aspire when I think about a book in audiobook. Those two books are just they just do it for me. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:39:57] I was going to say them to books exactly as well. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:00] You read Becoming? 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:00]  I did. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:02] Okay then. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:02] And I would like to add Tabitha Brown’s Feeding the Soul

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:06] Come on. Yes. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:40:07] It was a great audio book. I thought I knew a lot about Tab and I did, but the book let me know there was a lot more that I did not know. And her story to freedom and becoming who she is was very inspiring. So in her voice is just really great on audiobook. So that was one I enjoyed. I think I listened to that in one sitting. 

Maiysha Kai [00:40:26] I love that you guys actually highlighted audiobooks because I think, like, you know, we talk a lot about writing and that is valid. But I think, you know, A. We already shout out the ghost writers. Like, you know, words make it to the page in all sorts of ways. And the personalities that drive those books and those narratives are important to and I do. I actually that was one of the things I did love most about top of this book. I have the hard copy and I listen to that audiobook and being drawn in by her, her voice and her her own telling of her stories I think is so powerful. So I love that you highlighted that nobody does that. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:41:03] Audio books that are read by the author are just a different experience. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:41:10] Yes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:41:11] Totally. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:41:12] I mean, I mean, if you’re a you know, I love a good pen and paper book, too, because we like to highlight and do the things. But hearing a book from the author in their voice so you can hear the intonation and when their voice catches, when they’re, you know, something sad is about to happen. Or even I cried a little bit when we were doing ours. Like being able to authentically capture some of that emotion. I find it to be really, really beautiful. 

Maiysha Kai [00:41:35] I agree. And yeah, and this is a good time to highlight that when, you know, if you’re not going to pick up the hard copy, Marriage Be Hard is available on audiobook and is read by Kevin and Melissa themselves so you can get their narrative firsthand from them. So yeah, thank you so much. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:41:51] Thank you. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:41:52] We had a great time. Thank you for having us. 

Maiysha Kai [00:41:55] I love that. I aim for you to have a great time. Thank you so much. Kevin and Melissa Fredericks on Writing Black. Y’all check out Marriage Be hard. Check out KevOnStage. Check out Mrs. Kevin On Stage. And we’ll be looking for y’all at the NAACP Image Awards this year. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:42:09] We’ll be there. 

Melissa “MrsKevOnStage” Fredericks [00:42:10] We’ll be there. 

Kevin “KevOnStage” Fredericks [00:42:10] Good Luck. 

Mr. and Mrs KevOnStage [00:42:11] Thank You. 

Maiysha Kai [00:42:15] Well, I think we can all agree that was a really fun conversation. And, you know, I’m always down to talk about love. And, you know, I love that Kevin and Melissa referred to Tabitha Brown and Feeding the Soul, because that is also a book that is, you know, not as much about relationships per se, although there’s a lot of that in there, but it’s definitely about love and self-love and and self-fulfillment. But if we want to talk about love, I always go back to this book. This is All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks. And, you know, as I recommend Mai Favorites every week, this is one of my all time favorites, and I think everybody should get into it. This is about love of community. It’s about love of each other. And I really think that everybody has something to gain from reading this. So those are my favorites for this week. And tune in next week for more Writing Black. Thanks so much for joining us for this week’s episode of Writing Black. As always, you can find us on theGrio app or wherever you find your podcasts. 

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