“I want to be the Oprah of Love & Travel.”
These words were spoken by Kendra Okereke, a solo trip-taking virgin who has visited 16 countries across 4 continents and is an avid lover of well…love and travel!
Did you only see the word virgin in that sentence?
In an interview by Flex-N-Fly’s founder & CEO, Youmie Jean Francois, you will see beyond Kendra’s body choices. You will feel her embodying her pure, unadulterated soul. She is truly untouchable when it comes to authenticity. She bares her naked truth by sharing her love for journeying abroad and within. What’s sexier than that?!
Keep reading to unpack Kendra’s aspirations, fears, beliefs about love -and of course- her favorite places that she’s actually packed for!
Let’s start from the Beginning. Where Did Your Love of Travel Come From?
I took my very first solo travel trip for my 25th birthday in May of 2017. I went to Italy. The reason I went to Italy is because I started to teach myself Italian when I was in school 3 years before. Italy just seems like such a romantic place, with amazing people, and everything just seems like a fairytale. I’m a hopeless romantic so I feel like I’ve always been searching for a place like that. For me, that was Italy!
It took a lot of courage to go abroad again. I had previously studied abroad in Prague in the Czech Republic when I was in college and I had the worst experience! I wasn’t allowed on some public transportation. I wasn’t allowed in restaurants and in some grocery stores.
Everyone stared at me like I was a dinosaur.
I didn’t even get on a plane to go abroad for 4 years after that experience because I had it in my young, naive mind that everyone must be like this.
So back to my 25th birthday! I had been working for three and a half years straight. I didn’t take a single vacation, not even a sick day- nothing. So I was like, you know what? I’m turning 25, I’m going to treat myself! I’m going to go on this trip by myself.
And OH…MY…GOSH! I felt my heart stretch in ways I had no idea were possible!
I felt like I knew myself pretty well at that point but when traveling by myself, I got to see how resourceful I am, see how good I am at talking and connecting with people, and how good I am at figuring things out. It made me realize that I had all of these parts to me that I didn’t actually know existed. It was awesome to see that and I wanted to continue to learn about myself. As I had that desire, the desire to also connect with people and to hear their stories was birthed.
That’s the reason why I travel; to meet people.
My big thing is that I stay in hostels- I don’t care if they’re cheap or crappy hostels, I prefer to stay in hostels 100% of the time. It’s the perfect way to meet other people and I have met some of my best friends in the world at hostels all around the world.
So yes, that’s how I got started traveling!
One of our favorite things about you is how unapologetic you are at declaring that you want love, you desire love, you love LOVE, and that you’re a hopeless romantic. It’s not about race but it’s so endearing to see a black woman saying I want this too and I don’t care if anyone hears it!
What gave you this courage and confidence to share that with the world?
What made me feel comfortable doing it on Tik Tok was a video I saw. It was of this 27 year old girl who had never kissed anyone, she had never had a boyfriend, and she had never held hands with someone. I had 3 different people send me the same video on the same day.
A little about me: I am 29. I have never had a boyfriend. I’ve never been in a serious relationship. And I’m still a virgin.
I made a stitch to that Tik Tok. I was like, ‘Heyyyy I’m here! I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’m a virgin and I would love to meet someone who isn’t freaked out by that.’ My video got over 330,000 views and I got over 10,000 followers from it! What was even more amazing, though, were the comments that I got. And I’m going to be completely honest with you right now.
I have wanted a boyfriend since I left my mother’s womb!
That’s something I have always desired; to know what it’s like to have someone like you back, to have someone notice you, to have companionship, and to just feel that love.
And for my whole life everyone has always given me such crappy advice!
They’ve said things like, ‘ Oh, you just have to love yourself! Oh, it happens when you least expect it. Oh, you have to be happy being single!’ I personally think this is TERRIBLE advice!
Someone commented on one of my videos where I stated that I felt it was terrible advice. They said, ‘Well you’re not missing out on anything.’
I feel like it’s easy for people to say that and the analogy I use is this:
I feel like I have been eating apples my whole life. Everyone else has had apples but they’ve also had lobster and steaks and all this other delicious food. I am sitting here saying I desire to try those delicious foods too. It’s easy to say I’m not missing out when you’re still stuffing your face with those delicious foods!
I feel like it’s very insensitive. I feel like people have always been insensitive to my desires.
Since I got such a great response from that video, I realized I have a lot of thoughts about being a late bloomer and I should make a short video series.
Because of my age and because I know myself so well, I started making videos about how I’ll never be able to ignorant date. I’ll never be able to date someone and be like, ‘Yea, you’re cute, let’s do it!’ That would be a disservice to myself.
I know who I am, I know what I want, and I know who I am looking for. If I date someone for whatever reason, then that’s just a waste of my time.
I did another video about how I have a fear of being second best. Because I’m starting later in life, there are a lot of people who have already had a lot of these experiences. I talk about how it would be my first Valentine’s Day with someone, but maybe they’ve already had a couple Valentine’s Days with someone they found special. It would be my first time saying I love you but they might have said it a couple of times to other people.
I did another video about a term that one of my followers taught me-ambiguous grief. It is grieving something that you’ll never be able to have. It’s common for women who aren’t able to have children or for kids who grew up without a parent figure.
I have a lot of ambiguous grief when it comes to dating. I missed out on that young puppy love that you have when you’re a teenager. When you spend all your time together, you believe it’s going to last forever, and then it just ends. But you grow from that.
I missed out on dating in college which is so specific because you’re in your own little world there so it actually feels more like a real relationship. I missed out on that. I’m 29 now so it feels like I missed out on dating in my twenties. I just feel like I have a lot of ambiguous grief when it comes to matters like that.
So yes, I did a series of videos on topics like this; these are my thoughts as a late bloomer. All of those videos have done very well and for the first time in my life I felt validated for my feelings whereas before everyone told me to suppress them. I’m so grateful for that and for the followers and comments I received.
I started telling myself, Kendra, you don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
I always thought you had to love yourself one hundred percent. You had to be happy being single one hundred percent. You had to stop looking for it one hundred percent. And that is NOT my story. That is NOT my testimony.
I started telling myself, I am enough right now. I don’t have to be perfect to be loved. I would repeat this every day! And so far, it’s worked out pretty well! I met someone and he is absolutely wonderful! I’m very excited to see what happens!
What’s funny is that if you would have told me even a month ago, ‘Kendra you’re going to meet someone who is so wonderful and you’re going to weigh your heaviest, you’re going to have a shaved head, and you’re not going to necessarily be the happiest person,’ I wouldn’t have believed you at all!
Actually, another video I did in that short series was about how I feel like I have all this stored up love. Because I am a hopeless romantic, I feel love so strongly! Whether it’s between other people or even when I look at a photograph, I feel it so strongly in my heart. I feel because I missed out on so many experiences, that I have all this stored up love that would have been expelled during those experiences and because they weren’t they’re still in me! I have so much love to give that I know for a fact that whoever I am with will never question for a second if I love them. They will know whole-heartedly!
Your favorite country is Ireland, correct? Do you ever want to move there permanently and why is that your favorite country?
Yes, yes, and YES! I kind of went to Ireland accidentally for my 26th birthday.
I used to work at this TV Network, and I worked on all UK based shows. The shows I worked on took place primarily in Scotland and England. I wanted to go there for my birthday because I had learned so much about the people and the history. It was too expensive to fly directly into Scotland or England though, so I flew into Ireland since it was so much cheaper.
I fell in love with Ireland! I love the swans at St. Stephens Green and I love the people. Irish people are the friendliest people in the world. I just adore their humor- they have stupid humor but it’s the funniest thing to me for some reason.
I will be honest. As a black, solo traveler, I have experienced racism in almost every country I’ve gone to. But not in Ireland! At least not that I noticed. So I ended up going twice in one year. It was after that first time I went that I decided that I needed to live there! I spent the next 6 months trying to move to this country! I reached out to all these different production companies and movie studios saying ‘Hey this is the experience I can offer.’ I actually also planned another trip to go back in Thanksgiving 2018. I had a couple of meetings set up to make sure I was going back. But, right before I left, I got a new job that was the kind of job that I would stay out here in Los Angeles for, my dream situation. So I ended up canceling all those meetings and went and frolicked around Ireland in November anyway, which is really cold, rainy, and wet. It’s just my favorite country. The history fascinates me. With everything that they’ve gone through, they’re still so kind and I just love it!
Did you ever think that you would be getting the kind of exposure that you’re getting on Tik Tok? What has it been like for you?
I had hoped that I would. I started my Tik Tok because I’ve been trying to sell a show that explores themes I talk about on my Tik Tok page, which are travel and love. I had hoped that I would get this exposure but now that it’s actually here, it’s kind of crazy. I’m grateful because I’ve had a lot of great opportunities come from it. I’ve signed contracts with different companies, gotten sponsorships, and people reach out to me saying I’m a travel influencer.
And I’m like, ‘Noooooo I’m not, don’t even call me that!’
I don’t feel like I am a travel influencer and I don’t feel like I identify with being a travel influencer because I don’t feel like I put that much stock into Tik Tok. I feel like I just kind of make videos about whatever I’m feeling. I’m not like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s 3:30 pm and I have to post this video!’
That’s not how I’m thinking. If I have a video, then cool. If I go 5 days without posting a video, then that’s cool too.
I have set some goals for myself. I would like to have 100,000 followers by the end of August. That would be a personal goal for me. I would feel a lot better going back to some of these executives that turned me down or rejected my project like, ‘Look, you said I couldn’t do this and I needed a following. I’m back with a following!’
I’m just extremely grateful.
What is your biggest fear about love?
How much time do we have again?!
I actually have a couple right now.
One of my biggest fears about love is not receiving the love back that I have to give. I am worried that I am going to be such a loving, caring, and attentive partner and I am not going to get that back.
Not because they don’t want to give that back, but because they have a limit and they have reached their own limit. They could be doing all they can for me but all they are doing isn’t going to be enough for me. That makes me sad because I know that I am EXTRA! I guess the way I have been viewing my love has been through this give and take. The more you give me, the more I will give you back. I know that I have an endless amount to give.
I think another thing that scares me about love is not meeting my own expectations for how my love story would unfold. I always thought of this incredible love story, one for the books, where we were traveling and our eyes locked on a mountain top. We would just have this epic story. The guy I am seeing now, we met on an app. And that’s not my favorite place to meet someone. If we get to the point of falling love, then I think I’ll need to let go of all those ideas I had of what my first relationship would be like.
I mean, when you have been single for 29 years, you have 29 years to just dream of what a relationship would be like! So, right now I think I need to let go of those dreams and it scares me.
For example, if he were to ask me to be his girlfriend, then I want him to do it in a cute way. I want there to be flowers. I want it to be cheesy- like cringey type cheesy- like you will want to hide your face!
I’m a hopeless romantic. I used to spend my time watching women telling their husbands they’re pregnant on Youtube, soldiers coming home and surprising their spouses, and engagement videos. I would spend hours watching those. It’s completely clouded my idea of what relationships are but I’ve seen how beautiful love can be. I crave that.
I’m growing. That’s what I have been learning in this short time that I’ve been talking to this person. I don’t know anything about relationships. I constantly check in with him to ask, ‘Do you feel supported, seen, and appreciated. Is there anything I can do to make you feel that way?’ I think our communication is great, but I also need a lot of help and guidance and I recognize that.
It’s all new, and I’m learning.
What do you do for a living now? What is your dream when it comes to making a living?
I’m a casting producer for a digital media company called Jubilee Media. We have a channel on YouTube with over 6.4 million subscribers. The type of content we make is to bridge people together, inspire love, and challenge conventional thinking. My job is to find people with specific beliefs, opinions, or identities. I’ve casted people who are HIV positive, flat earthers, porn stars and adoptees. I’ve been there well over 2 and a half years.
My biggest dream is to own a love company. I want to have a company that helps you through every stage of love. We would have a dating app. It would be a curated dating app, not like Tinder. We would help with gift ideas and date ideas. We would help you plan your engagement, your wedding and also hook you up with marriage therapists if you needed that.
I feel like love is so precious.
If you need that extra help and you don’t know where to go to get it, I don’t want people to have the fear that they’re going to lose someone because of that. If you don’t know what gift to get someone or how to find a marriage therapist, our company would help you with all of it.
I basically want to be the Oprah of love and travel.
I have a show that I’ve been trying to sell called Bloom. I want to travel the world and have people teach me about love; all aspects of love from dating, falling in love, marriage, proposals, and raising kids. But I also want to learn about the difficult stuff like domestic violence and divorce.
I will interview people based on correlating statistics of love in that country. For example, they have arranged marriages in India. I would go to Mumbai and New Dheli to talk to people about marriage. They legalized divorce in Ireland, so I would go to Cork and Dublin to talk to people about divorce. Statistically, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City are the hardest cities to date in. I would go there and talk to people about dating.
It is all under the guise of teaching about love.
The reason I want to do this is because I feel like there is not a space in the media for people who identify as late bloomers. I feel that when people hear someone is older and is a virgin they think of the movie, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” which showcases someone who is super awkward or they think of someone over-sexualized like in “American Pie.”
NO! Why can’t I just be a regular person who has friends, who goes out on the weekends, who knows how to make eye contact in a normal conversation but I just happen to be a virgin!?
I want people who identify as late bloomers to not be ashamed of it and to see themselves on camera and learn with me!
I think it’s so beautiful how love changes around the world, or what the meaning of love means around the world, or the values that marriage has in different countries. Especially after the year we’ve had with Covid, Black Lives Matter, and the election. I feel like love is the one thing that ties us together so why not talk about it?
It’s universal, so let’s talk about it!
What is your dream future with your dream spouse?
I would love to live abroad in the UK with all of our adopted children. I’m really big on adopting. I want to adopt multiple children, siblings, older children, all of it. I also have this desire to get my wildlife certificate because I would love to foster and rehabilitate wild animals. I volunteer for a cat rescue so our house is filled with two of everything, like Noah’s Arc- two cats, two dogs, two turtles, two green cheeked conures!
I have this amazing successful career, and we’re fine on money, but we live this small life because family is very important to us.
I want us to always want to date each other. I want us to always be equal partners in everything. I want our kids to know that we love them. I don’t want them to fear us, I want them to know our place is a safe place. I want their friends to know that our place is a safe place. I want to create this beautiful home where all are welcomed. I just want this beautiful rainbow family!
As far as my dream solo travel trip- if I am able to raise enough funds this year- it will be Antarctica in December!
Tell everyone where they can find you so we can blow you up and let these executives know about you!
I’m on Instagram and Tik Tok: @ken10hollywood
It’s the same handle everywhere!
HOPEFUL, NOT HOPELESS
She might be a hopeless romantic, but we have so much hope that it’s only a matter of time she attracts the love that is also seeking her (even if it happens in an app and not as she’s jumping out of a plane where he is waiting for her to land in heart shaped clouds as a rainbow simultaneously appears in the sky!)
We know her love story will be perfect whatever way it unfolds, because her unfolding during this process is perfection and it’s lovely to witness.
Kendra reminds us all that love is beautiful and magical, but it’s scary and vulnerable. She reminds us that traveling the external world can teach us so much about ourselves, but also that traveling our inner world can teach us too! She reminds us that we all experience love and life differently, yet we’re all the same in simply wanting to be seen and validated on our own journeys.
What do you love about love? What do you love to do? Where would you love to travel and would you do it alone? We would LOVE to hear from you in the comments below! See below Kendra sharing her thoughts.