In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers in and around New York and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with trendsetting lifestyle expert and journalist Nicole Young.
Always on the pulse of what is hip and fabulous in the big apple and beyond, Nicole has worked her magic in front of the camera serving as a correspondent for ABC World News Now, an entertainment reporter for the Madison Square Garden Network (MSG) and special correspondent for the PIX 11 Morning News. A lauded voice of authority on fashion, beauty, health, and lifestyle-related topics, Nicole can often be seen sharing her expertise on-air as a contributor for networks and programs including: E! News, BET, VH1, Fox & Friends, Good Day Philadelphia, Let’s talk Live and Coffee with America.
Nicole strongly believes that being healthy is the key to looking, living, and feeling great. She takes pride in sharing that philosophy on and off camera through her original food and cocktail recipes. Nicole plans on taking that message to the masses with the launch of her upcoming book, Do the Lite Thing.
Constantly channeling her passion for fashion, Nicole also designs a collection of elegant, bespoke dresses that are a favorite among famous style mavens like Rachel Zoe, Naomi Campbell, Lisa Ling, Garcelle Beauvais, and Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes. Read more about Nicole’s fashion favorites and healthy treats in this week’s Q&A…
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?
I have always been the guru in my circle – advising everyone in my life on what to wear, how to do their hair/makeup, where to go, and what to cook/eat – so sharing my insight and tips on television was a logical progression for me. Covering topics that relate to things I’m good at and have actually done in my career comes naturally to me and working in front of the camera allows me to put my experience and my big personality to use.
2. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?
I’ve worked with many celebrities in various capacities throughout my career but one of my favorite experiences was designing a gown for my good friend Lisa Ling to wear to the 2009 inaugural ball. It was such a historic occasion (President Obama’s first inauguration) and an important moment for Lisa, and I wanted her to look event-appropriate but to also shine like the beauty she is. It was truly an honor to create something smart, elegant, and stylish for someone with a respected career whom I love and admire.
3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
I begin many mornings with live morning news appearances. I wake up between 4:30 AM-5:00 AM and start my day with a protein shake and a 20 minute yoga stretch to get my blood flowing and my mind ready for any and everything. After a shower and cup of coffee (with almond milk creamer), I head off to the respective studio in which I’m filming or taping. Once I’m off air, it’s usually back home for a quick outfit change and removal of the TV makeup and a late morning snack. My afternoons are filled with meetings and appointments all over the city – ranging from market appointments to previews to product launches. I stick to a pretty strict eating schedule to keep my metabolism moving at optimal speed, so I either carry lunch with me or grab a healthy balanced lunch between 1:30-2PM. I usually sneak a 45-60 minute workout in at some point in the late afternoon/early evening. My evenings are spent either at events or dinner meetings or at home cooking. At night, it’s writing time at the computer, catching up on emails and phone calls, followed by TV time (Knicks games, Yankees games or my favorite tv shows).
On my days off, I enjoy taking long walks from my neighborhood downtown all the way up to the east 60s and then back down and I also enjoy quiet time at home reading magazines. Deep tissue massages at Great Jones Spa followed by a little sauna time are great too!
4. What is the next big thing in your industry? What are people doing differently today, compared to 10-15 years ago?
The digital media explosion has really changed the game. Ten years ago print media was considered the mother lode so being published as a writer or written about in a magazine or newspaper was the ultimate goal. Today it’s all about social media and digital broadcast – which I consider both a gift and a curse. It is a gift because it allows individuals like myself to spread my message to a larger audience and garner more exposure, however, it has also generated an un-leveled playing field where those who can either buy or fake the illusion of experience and creativity are mistakenly given the same credibility (and allowed the same platform) as genuinely talented, hardworking people. But such is life and change is good.
5. What are your three favorite restaurants in New York?
My three favorite restaurants in NY are: EN Japanese Brasserie, because the entire menu is an exploration into exotic Japanese cuisine, Lure Fishbar, because I’m a huge seafood fan and they stock my favorite sake, and Spring Natural Restaurant, because they make it their business to serve clean, healthy food that tastes great.
6. What are your three favorite bars in New York?
I’m not really into to bars per se but on occasion I like to meet friends for drinks at Forty Four bar at the Royalton Hotel – it is an old favorite.
7. What are your three favorite locations to visit in New York?
1) The Freedom Tower because it reminds me of how precious life is and it represents the strength and resilience of NYC.
2) The Union Square Greenmarket for the farm fresh local produce and the friendly dedicated vendors who show up rain or shine.
3) Barney’s NY (60th Street) for the impeccable designer edit and fantastic people watching.
8. Which events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss?
I’m not as serious about events as I used to be but Thanksgiving at my parents house is an occasion I will never miss. It’s an intimate gathering with just my parents, my husband & I, and a few cousins, but we have more fun on that day than most people have in a year, plus both my parents are excellent cooks so the food is beyond delish. It is a special occasion that I look forward to every year.
9. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?
My best New York moment to date was my wedding last March because my husband and I celebrated in a unique and special way that really felt like us and represented what we’re about. We exchanged vows in my best friend’s penthouse with the NYC skyline as our backdrop. Our ceremony was officiated by a wonderful retired New York judge who we met through a mutual friend and was witnessed only by our parents and my friend whose apartment it was. It was the most meaningful, sacred moment of our lives. I will never forget it. We then celebrated with an elegant, intimate reception at a private loft in our beloved SoHo neighborhood with 50 of our closest family and friends. The decor was chic and modern (executed by the talented KPG events), the vibe was sexy, the food (prepared by my talented chef hubby and his catering team) was exquisite and the music was OFF THE CHAINS (shoutout to DJ Clarke Kent!). It was truly an unforgettable experience that I will cherish forever!
My worst NY moment was facing off with Princess Michael of Kent at Da Silvano restaurant in 2004. It’s too much to recap but if you Google my name and hers, you can read all about. I will say, that for as difficult of an experience as it was, I am proud of the way I handled it and it made me an even stronger person. It was a defining moment in my life and a reminder that racist behavior should always be dealt with and NEVER EVER swept under the rug.
10. Tell us something that people do not know about you. (And you cannot say it is a secret!)
I DVR General Hospital every day! I’ve been watching it since I was in junior high and it’s one of my favorite shows. I either watch it before bedtime or binge watch it on the weekends.
11. How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as “not so flash.” Don’t get me wrong, I do own a few sparkly pieces–but I always scale them down with denim and/or low-key accents. I love diamonds and I am a fan of statement jewelry but only one piece at a time. For the most part I stick to classic silhouettes, nothing too trendy and pieces that feel polished. I don’t do frumpy and I don’t subscribe to “athleisure”; gym clothes are strictly for working out.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
My mother and both of my late grandmothers are my style icons. All three taught me to take pride in what I wear and always remember that “clothing speaks.” I strongly believe that – for better or worse – what you wear and how you wear it can speak louder than your actual voice. It would be nice if books weren’t judged by their covers but the truth is, they are!
13. Who is your favorite Fashion Designer, Artist, or Architect – and why?
My favorite designer is Carolina Herrera – not only because I love her aesthetic but because I believe she is her own muse. Everything she designs looks just like her – sophisticated, timeless ,and effortless.
14. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
I feel my best in skinny jeans, a blouse and heels or sleek jersey dresses. Both looks can be dressed up or dressed down and as long as the fit and the accessories are done right, they never look or feel forced.
My favorite perfume is Michael Kors for women because it’s sexy and feminine but not too sweet or floral.
E.T. is still my favorite movie of all time and I still cry at the end.
d. TV show.
My favorite TV show is The Sopranos, I just love the complexity of the lethal mobster who loves his family and needs to see a shrink and I LOVED the ending! I thought leaving the entire country hanging and thinking for a second that their cable boxes malfunctioned was pure genius!
My favorite book is The India Fan by Eleanor Hibbert. I read it for the first time in high school and I felt so grown up after completing it.
15. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
I really love Columbus Tavern on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It’s a low key spot on the water (that all the locals rave about) with the best Caribbean food on the planet! All the seafood is caught fresh daily and every dish on the menu is full of flavor. My favorite dish is the grilled spiny lobster served with braised greens and rice & peas. Wish I had a plate of that right now!
16. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
My favorite vacation spot is Nassau, Bahamas. I had been going there for years prior but it’s the first place my husband (then boyfriend) and I vacationed together so it holds a special place in my heart. I love that in less than three hours I can be a world away from NYC and in total paradise. I’ve stayed at a few hotels on the island but the One & Only Ocean Club is my favorite and I enjoy the energy and the activities at the Atlantis resort.
17. Which three items can you not live without?
– I cannot live without Blistex moisture melt lip balm, I fear my lips will dry up and fall off without it.
– I would die without my blackberry – although I also have an iPhone I consider that an accessory (or a toy really) for photos and Instagram – but my blackberry is my device!
– My day is not complete if I don’t start off with vanilla essential base protein powder from mycustomcleanse.com. I have it every morning (blended with almond milk, ground cinnamon and 1/2 a frozen banana) for breakfast no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
18. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
I can listen to “Rising To The Top” by Keni Burke on repeat all day long because it’s a smooth soulful track and the lyrics speak loudly and clearly to me, plus old school R&B is my favorite musical genre.
19. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
If I could meet anyone in the world it would be Pope Francis. He is so diligent about maintaining the balance between old world tradition and modern day thinking – which is a brand of thinking we can all benefit from.
20. Is there anything else you would like to share, discuss or promote?
I am very excited about the release of my upcoming cookbook, Do the Lite thing. It marks a new chapter in my career and has been a dream of mine for a very long time. I’ve been cooking and developing my own recipes (aka, making stuff up that happens to taste really good) since I was ten when my grandmother bought me my first wok.
I find the lack of black personalities in the food space pushing a healthy eating agenda on-air REALLY troubling. Considering our community is riddled with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, it annoys me even more that the few recognizable black faces on TV always seem to be cooking fatty, greasy or fried foods using processed, yucky ingredients. As someone who cooks, eats, and loves clean healthy food, I am SO tired of these health and wellness “experts” touting the plant-based diet as the only way to be healthy while showcasing a bunch of bland, pretentious looking food all over the internet – not that there’s anything wrong with “plant based,” but that concept is not an inclusive or realistic idea in the long term for people who crave flavor. If your current eating habits are not healthful, I’m all for the lifestyle change and for taking an “in moderation” approach, but sacrificing flavor does NOT have to be a part of the equation. The release of my book (as well as some other exciting projects I’m working on) is part of my mission to prove to the masses, especially people who are born into cultures that believe in flavorful food, that healthy can be familiar and delicious. Stay tuned!
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Rich Ahee