Love is one of those words that carries myriad meanings and connotations. But in essence, it feels good to love, because it is the most natural state of being. When people say that love can heal, it’s not just a concept—it’s a fact. When we feel true love, we only can give true love. And when we transcend to applying love beyond simple definitions of good or bad, we tune into a freeing unconditionality. It’s free of judgment, free of differences and polarities: it’s simply the energy of love surrounding our existence, reflected in our every thought, emotion, and action. And although we sometimes pretend that we are not beings of love, it is difficult to deny the truth: that we don’t need love; we are love.
Artist Rhoyle Ivy King (He/Him/They) who stars as Nathaniel (She/Her/They) in CW’s All American: Homecoming, says, “ I truly feel like love is one of the greatest strengths, that’s often viewed as soft. Some would say that that’s a weakness. Like love can blind you a little bit. But I think the ability to choose love, and to act with love, despite how good or bad someone else is, is such a powerful thing. Because it’s more on the lines of ‘I love not because of how good or bad you are, but because it’s just who I am.’ So I would really bring myself back to that. It’s one of the most important things to me. And one of the things that I choose daily to give, and hopefully find ways to receive from other people.”
When speaking to someone whom you want to help to better themselves, there is a difference between speaking out of love and speaking out of fear. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all receptive beings who can sense the flow of energies beyond the words that are being spoken. Sometimes when we care about someone but forget that they have their own inner guidance we speak to them out of fear. It is challenging, on the other hand, to speak from a place of love and trust that the people we care about are already as capable and powerful as we want them to see. And that is what makes seeing everyone from the perspective of unconditional love so worthy, not only for us, but as well for others.
Rhoyle has expanded his awareness through his life experience to know what unconditional love is. He says, “I think one of the best examples of unconditional love is truly taught from our parents. That ability to say, ‘No, I’m taking your phone away and I am grounding you, not because I don’t like you, but it’s because I love you enough that I want you to learn this lesson. I want you to do better. I believe in you. And it’s because I love you.’ The same love that will cheer you on and root for you is also the same love that will discipline you. But in both aspects. It’s choosing to love and even to that very point when people need love because honestly, they’re acting out of fear.”
Weola, the collective energy channeled by Kosta Trufunovic, says, “You are this life force expressing through the tools of physicality – your mind, your body; thoughts, and emotions. You are here to have that current experience, which is now, now, now. As you become aware of a wider perspective, you can have the whole universe, the whole cosmos being experienced by you because it is all within you at all times.”
Everything is God’s expression. About how Rhoyle expressed his inner self through his physicality, he says, “I’m gender non-conforming. But I think even then, my way of gender expression, for me growing up, I was raised by all women. So when I really start to think about strength, I think of my mother, I think of my aunt, I think of my grandmother, because they did everything; they provided. They nurtured, they worked, they showed up, and they did it all in heels and a beat face. So for me, that is what I view as strength, that balance of masculinity and femininity, because to do both, that takes so much courage, especially in a world that truly views masculinity as the dominant. But femininity is so powerful, and women in general, for me, that is who I think of when I think of strength. So that had a lot to do with me growing up and shaping myself when sometimes in scary situations, putting on who I really viewed as strong, who I really could pull on and go. What strong version of me would do this and I would see my mother. I would see my aunts. I would see my grandmother. So I think all of that has made such a huge an effect on how I express myself and how I express my gender, making sure that the femininity is there, because truly at the end of the day, that’s who taught me how to walk, how to speak, how to act and how to dress. It was all of the incredible black women that surrounded me.”
Feminine and masculine energies are within all of us, regardless of our gender. We can achieve a natural balance of our yin and yang, lingam and yoni, by infusing each decision with our intentions in the direction of our purest desires. As we trust the unfolding by following this energy that we originally set in motion, we create in love, bliss, and fulfillment. Our physical differences are unique in expression, but the vibrational movement within all of us is equal.
When we send an intention from our heart’s center, a portal opens up where we are in complete alignment with who we are and receptive to listen, hear, and receive our inner guidance. About the difference of creating from the perspective of joy or competition, Rhoyle shares, “I will honestly say I felt the most of that, in college, and right out of college. As far as being in a competitive theater training environment, it was so to be completely transparent, especially the way our school was set up, the way that they established the groups, no one really understood. And so it really made everyone want to amp up and do that and live in their art, but not from an honest way, but from a competitive way. From the way of ‘I am going to force a motion, I’m going to force these notes out, I’m going to do things to get the attention.’ And then you step out of school. And the thing that you really needed was to develop your authentic craft, your craft that is truly who you are, and truly what sets you apart. Because when you live in a space of trying to adapt your art for a competitive sake, you end up molding into what is the norm, and you try to be better than who’s successful. And they’re doing what they do, the way they do it. And now because you’re trying to compete with them, you’re studying them, mimicking them, and trying to do what they do. But the fact is, they’re winning because they’re being themselves. So I think once I really started to develop and go, ‘You know what, I can’t do what these other people are doing. And that’s not meant for me. I’m not supposed to. I really have to focus on creating my art authentically and in the way that I am.’ That’s when I started to love it again. I found myself back to how I was when I began when it was my free space, my non-judgmental zone. I found that again, and that’s when my art’s passion stirred up all over again. And I fell in love with it. Truly, it was like falling in love all over again.”
Since our nature is love and love is all inclusive, we all are one from our broader God’s perspective, and we all are unique in expressing that love and God’s perspective through us. That awareness is becoming more and more palpable in crafts such as the entertainment industry, too.
Here is what Rhoyle says about the entertainment industry: “I would say that for me, what would really help me feel the inclusivity is honestly doing more of what I’m doing right now. Playing a character that is healing for me, in a way, playing a character that I, and I’ve said this before, but it is just so true for me, a character that I needed to see growing up, that was living their life and being free. Although me and my character, Nathaniel in the show All American: Homecoming, don’t share the same gender identity, we have a lot of intersectionality in the way that we express our gender as far as being non-conforming. And even watching her or playing her, this is who I needed to see, this is someone that I’m watching, and she’s feeding me. And I’m realizing things that I didn’t even pick up on when I was saying the lines and I’m like, ‘Wow, that was a moment. That was a really good moment.’ So it’s really doing more of that. And I think to further press on, I think it’s really important to see more queer people, women, queer people of color, people of different gender and gender identities on the other side of the table as well. On the casting side, on the writing side, the directing side, we have to exist over there, too. Because what you can’t have is you’re just creating a character, but then no one on the set, or no one who wrote the character understands the character. And that was truly such a beautiful thing about the experience I had on All American: Homecoming, that everyone was really researching and asking questions and being so open to having all the answers. But I’m not going to sit here and just give you a character and go, ‘Well, this is what I wrote.’ No, tell me about her. Tell me about the experience and tell me what is authentic. Because we have to make sure we’re doing this right. So I think it’s really important that we continue to move in that direction.”
The brilliance of playing to become someone else, like actors do, is the opportunity to explore new angles of perspectives and understanding. We are continually expanding; therefore, we as humanity and a society are expanding too. Now, it’s up to us to be up to speed with that expansion, so we don’t perceive the need to push against anything, but to honor ourselves and to honor others.
“My character Nathaniel gives me the courage to live out loud. There were some major hesitations I had at the very beginning. I had so many worries. Because living in this world, being a queer person is not easy. It’s not. It’s not like a stroll through the grass. There’s a lot of challenges. And so I had some fears and hesitations about doing that on such a massive scale as far as Hollywood. But one thing that was so beautiful was that my showrunner was like, ‘We’re not creating this character from fear. We’re not creating this character with the same reservations that you had growing up about being who you are. We’re creating this character bold, so that the young queer people like you can see someone that will help to push them and live out loud and know that they can go to college. That they can have full blown careers and be there and be loved by so many people. And so for me She, Nathaniel, reminds me in moments when I’m like, ‘Maybe I should dial it back?’ Because she wouldn’t do that at all. So that’s probably been one of the biggest aspects as far as the role that Nathaniel is playing in my life as of now,” passionately says Rhoyle.
And then he continues, “From the very beginning, when Nkechi Okoro, the showrunner of All American: Homecoming said, ‘We are writing a character who just so happens to be queer, we are not going to be spending our entire season and Nathaniel’s entire life, pushing some teachable, queer moments all the time. She has to be a fully developed human being.’ That was one of my favorite things about this character. We haven’t even gotten the full scope of Nathaniel yet. She’s a pre-law student. And to see a black non-binary law student, that’s incredible to me, because so much of the time, it’s all about being fierce, slaying, yaaaassss, werk and all of that stuff. But no, she’s educated, she’s grounded, she’s rooted. And so much of the time that we see her, Nathaniel is getting down to the true honest, nitty gritty of things. So often in film and television, queer people are always portrayed as though we don’t really know who we are, we’re just flowing with the wind. But no, she’s grounded. She’s rooted, and though she can change, because that’s what humans do, as of now, she’s very aware of who she is. And I really love that a lot.”
Rhoyle, more than anything, hopes that any young folks out there who working on becoming the next version or better version of themselves, can find that in All American: Homecoming – that they can watch one of the show’s characters and go, “Oh, thank goodness, I’m not the only one going through that.” He continues, “But truly, at the end of the day, we as a cast did all of this for the culture. We did all of this to represent black excellence in the best way that we possibly could. And when it comes to Nathaniel, I hope that more than anything, it’s for the people that are not in proximity to a non-binary person, or a gender non-conforming person, or a queer person in general, to look at her. And despite all their preconceptions, and what they may read online, they look at her and go, ‘You know what, I wish she was my friend. I wish I had a Nathaniel in my life.’ And I feel like when you really can talk to the heart of people, that is really using the power of storytelling to its maximum. Because we’re not teaching, we’re not preaching to anyone, we’re just living our lives. And this should happen in a manner similar to how people fall in love with the person. That’s really what I hope people get.”
We are the ones who are choosing to believe in what we believe. When a belief doesn’t feel good, it’s because we are deviating in the opposite direction of who we are. A belief that is coming out of love for yourself and others will never be judgmental in its nature.
Rhoyle says, “My belief system is one of the most important aspects about me, and one of the things that comes all the way down into my core. I was told early on, in church, from a youth pastor, to not change that. That’s exactly who I am, that it’s not my responsibility, or that I shouldn’t feel the pressure to be like the other boys. That God had a plan just for my life. And I think that message, so early on, has really continued to spin around in my head and show back up and so many moments when I’m like, ‘Am I supposed to be doing this?’ Because if anything that’s meant for you, should it be this hard. And I think the thing is, if it’s meant for you, it should be tugging at you, and pulling at you, because that’s what climbing a mountain feels like. You get winded and you get out of breath. But it’s your mountain to climb. And so I feel like the continued belief that this is what I was put on this earth to do, has always pushed me through in the moments that I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. I thought that this industry would never accept me. It’s one of those things that I look back on now and I go, ‘You are currently living exactly what you prayed for.’”
How does it feel to live your life as your authentic self, like Rhoyle? You are meant to feel fuller love, joy, bliss, and satisfaction. And when for a moment you forget about your divinity embodied in your physicality, take a few deep breaths, and sense your heart emanating the essence of who you are—love.
Photo courtesy Rhoyle Ivy King