How To Be… A Writer, XtraXtraLex

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Fiesty, self-proclaimed “amateur historian” Lex of XtraXtraLex.com discusses her life as a college creative, explaining that her passion for uplifting Black people is what pushes her to write on informational topics like sex, religion, and culture.

Stats

Name: XtraXtraLeX

Age: 21

Location: Columbus, Ohio while I complete my degree in history at The Ohio State University

Profession: I’m a writer and amateur historian. My website is a crockpot of essays, lists, and videos in a wide range of topics.  I wear many hats when it comes to the molding of my brand. I designed my logo and website, creative directed and styled official photos (and even self-shot a few of them), create social media content, and have several interview credits under my belt (Action Bronson, Kid Ink, Casey Veggies, etc). I also dabble in PR, writing press releases and consulting for a few underground artists. Sometimes I like to pose in pictures for people but it’s more for my own gratification than anything else, lol.

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Work

How did you get started?

I got started on my first blog, ohiostatelexi.com, my freshman year of college. I have a wide range of interests. I love talking about the most fun of topics – music, food, sexuality – and the deepest – race, history, religion, sociology. The website began as a crude reflection of this, as a place for me to vent my feelings and gift the internet with the speech (I called it ‘Talking Shit’) usually only reserved for those who saw me in day to day life.

I soon built up a loyal following of readers who enjoyed my thoughts on various topics – from the ratchet to the intellectual. In the beginning, I hosted parties and interviewed rappers and porn stars. I also began to be commissioned to write press releases for underground artists, which is something I still do [as a freelancer].

During my sophomore year, I was threatened with a lawsuit by Ohio State and had to change my name. I became xtraxtralex. As I evolved as a black woman throughout my college career, so did my brand. I became more interested in writing books, studying photography and computer graphics, and producing fun history and pop culture related content for the black community.

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What’s an average day like?

No day is average because college doesn’t care about your plans. But in a general sense I’ll let you know how much I’m always trying to do in a week. I have class. I have 10-12 website posts to conceptualize and complete. I have general website maintenance (e-mails, analytics, design tweaks). I have social media content to create to entice new readers onto my website, so I spend a lot of time on Photoshop and Illustrator. Depending on the week, I have press releases to write for underground artists. I conceptualize and film videos for an upcoming project. I attempt to learn a new make-up trick or hair technique so I can pass the knowledge on to my readers. I relax with my friends. I cook something yummy. I plan for post-grad life (which is rapidly approaching). Also, I work the graveyard shift at the school library.

Why do you do it?

My brand is me. Entertaining, informative, multi-faceted, thought provoking, and extra. I love entertaining and informing. I love provoking thoughts. I love getting people to think critically. I am a black woman. I love black people. I want us to uplift each other and get a bigger piece of the socio-economic pie. The best way we can go about this is by being better financially and educating each other. The more all of us know about systematic racism and the history of our people (and our oppressors), the more we can avoid traps or cycles that will keep us down. I want to spread the love of learning as much as I want to be in a sexy picture or gab about my favorite movie.

I want us to uplift each other and get a bigger piece of the socio-economic pie.

Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:

Because I am enthusiastic about sexuality, sometimes I’m written off as vapid with little more to offer than sex positions and fellatio guides. Because I am pro-black and a feminist, sometimes I’m written off as being too hard edged or “out there”. I don’t let these things get to me because I’m multi-faceted… and so is my brand. I know that people who appreciate what I offer also value my authenticity and hard work, so that’s all that matters.

Your greatest achievement so far?

My greatest achievement was surviving New York this summer (2015). I moved there around the end of a year long relationship with little money and not many friends in the city. Despite these things, I lasted in the city the entire summer, learned a lot, met some great people, and planted some seeds. The best part of it all was completing an internship with awesome photographer and creative Chandler Easley of Cherry Collab, where I began a love affair with Adobe. My readers might have realized that there are more fun surprises on my website and social media handles, and I have Chandler to thank for that! Also, I self-shot brand pictures in his studio and took part in a very popular photo series of his.

What might be next for you? 

I’ve got my eyes on 2016. A book. A webseries, XtraTV. I’ve become obsessed with food styling and recipe creation so some chef-related endeavors but in the most creative sense. Better graphics and content on my website, for sure. Graduation. A new city… but I’m still not sure where.

Hair

What are your top 5 go-to hair tips?

1) No hot water ever

2) Leave-in conditioner is your best friend

3) Don’t touch your hair excessively because it ruins your curls

4) Pay close attention to your ends. Get them trimmed regularly and always saturated in conditioner when co-washing.

5) There are tons more color, moisture, and styling related tips on xtraxtralex.com 🙂

Fun Fact: The name “XtraXtraLex” came about because people who didn’t like me around campus would call me “extra.” When contemplating what my new name would be after receiving a cease and desist letter from Ohio State, ‘Xtra’ just seemed like a natural choice. It fit me perfectly and it meant that anybody talking shit with that insult was simultaneously promoting me!

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Ellen Haile
Ellen Haile

My hair falls between the 4A to 4C category, so I’m always looking for the best manageable styles. I live for big, stretched hair, so I often keep it blow dried and call it a day.

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