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[INTERVIEW] ‘BORN AGAIN VIRGIN’ STAR DANIELLE NICOLET

Dating is one thing, but dating while celibate is quite another.

Playing the role of Jenna on TV One’s Born Again Virgin, Danielle Nicolet knows a thing or two about getting through cuffing season without giving it up.

The scripted comedy is back with more dating adventures of 30-something Jenna, her two best friends (Meagan Holder and Eva Marcille) and the challenges they face while attempting to navigate a new romantic landscape.

After taking a vow of celibacy to find more meaningful relationships, Jenna has yet to fall off the wagon while her friendship with Donovan (Durrell “Tank” Babbs) continues to grow. As Donovan resides in the “friend zone,” he realizes their friendship has benefits worth nurturing.

While Danielle is making waves on the new series, this isn’t her first time at the rodeo. The seasoned actress has starred in various projects including The Jacksons: An American Dream, Third Rock From The Sun, BET’s The Game and recently wrapped filming for Central Intelligence along with Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, which premieres June 2016.

JET caught up with Danielle about her role as Jenna, practicing celibacy and shifting the way Black women are depicted on television.

Jenna_Danielle Nicolet

JET: In the first half of the season, Jenna decides to become a born again virgin and start her own blog to document her journey. Where do we find Jenna as the show returns?

Danielle Nicolet: We find Jenna exploring more of her past relationships and most of all, on the journey to figuring out her feelings for Donovan. Jenna is coming to the realization that maybe Donovan is the guy for her. Also, Donovan is deciding whether or not he feels the same way about Jenna.

JET: When the topic of celibacy comes up people tend to cringe or get uncomfortable. What’s the main thing you want viewers to learn about born again virgins from the show?

Danielle Nicolet: I think the most important thing for people to know is just because you’re not having sex does not mean that you’re completely desexualized. Jenna is still totally sexualized, attracted to and attracted by men, relationships and sex. It’s really just a matter of coming to that place where you decide, “Ok, do I want to take it to that level with the person I’m involved with?” I think it’s about being more thoughtful and careful about whom you give yourself to, but it doesn’t mean that you’re shut off in your sweatpants, hiding under the covers and watching soap operas!

JET: Have you practiced celibacy? If so, what did you learn about yourself and relationships during that time?

Danielle Nicolet: I have and it’s interesting in this respect because I can relate to Jenna’s journey. I went through a really bad breakup with a horrible guy who cheated on me and had treated me really badly in the relationship. When we broke up, this guy asked me to marry him and said, “Wait, before you answer, I feel like I should tell you that I have been sleeping with my receptionist.” So as you can imagine, after that guy I felt like I needed to take a little time and discover what it was about me that was attracting really bad guys. I realized that I had a type and that type was jackass. Taking a break from sex enabled me to open my eyes, my mind and heart to a different type of man. I think taking that time really helped with opening me up to better relationships with sentimentally good men. I don’t know if these two are connected, but I met my husband. He was my next major relationship after that.

JET: Do you think a sex fast is necessary for women who can’t seem to get it right when it comes to dating?

Danielle Nicolet: I don’t know if I think it’s necessary, but I certainly think it’s a journey a lot of us would benefit from. It’s almost like an emotional reset. I think women can’t help but be attached to those we’re having sex with in the way men don’t necessarily get attached to us. I think taking sex out of the equation really forces us to focus on other aspects of the relationships that are important, that are equally important to sex. A lot of times I think sex makes things really foggy and we put [sex] on top of the “important list” and everything else falls by the wayside until we’re deep into the relationship.

JET: What advice would you give to born again virgins on resisting temptation?

Danielle Nicolet: (laughs) Lots of deep breathes! Mostly, I would say just try to think about what in a relationship you’re looking for is equally important as sex and seek out those attributes in a partner. When you find that guy who treats you right, is worthy of your attention and your commitment, he’s a better man just for knowing you and he recognizes that he can’t do better than you, that’s the guy who’s worth giving it up to.

JET: Born Again Virgin does a great job of showing camaraderie amongst Black women. Has it always been a goal of yours to change the way Black women are portrayed on television?

Danielle Nicolet: You give me chills just asking me that question, and the answer is yes. It’s been one of the biggest goals of my career and it’s the thing about the show that I love the most. As a Black actress, I’ve come up against stereotypes and archetypes of Black women that are made by those who are not us. It’s White men, White women and Black men who have been deciding on television for so long what Black women are like and most of the time it’s not reflective of my reality or the reality of anyone that I know. There’s these archetypes of African-American women who are desperate, angry, mean, back-biting, unkind to each other and that we would climb over our best friend to get a man. The opposite of that, but equally shown on television, is desexualized church woman. All those women are focused on going to church and finding the right man to marry so they can be made an honest woman. The truth of the matter is there might be a little bit of that in us, but there’s so much more to us than what is shown on TV. All my friends, my family and all the African-American women that I know are complicated, witty, weird, funny, quirky, awesome, interesting, beautiful and sexualized people. This is the best thing about the show and the three girls on the show get to be all of those things in love and in kindness. Each character is the star of her life. Her happiness is not contingent on a man acknowledging or approving her.

Watch the mid-season premiere of Born Again Virgin tonight on TV One at 9/8c.