Actress turned motivational speaker and book author Kim Coles believes in the power of love. And while she loves making people laugh, the former Living Single star has also made it her mission to help people believe in themselves and embrace what they offer to the world. This Valentine’s Day, Coles shares how she’s living—and loving—her best life and gives insight on how you can do the same.
What do you love most about your life right now?
Kim Coles: What I love most is I get to have it all. I get to be an actress, a speaker, and a coach. I get to use my gifts fully and I get to embrace the ups and downs and the challenges I’ve been through. I get to review all of that and pull out the lessons and activate the lessons. And then I get to go and teach that and share that. And that feels so aligned for me. I just turned 60 and something clicks at 60. I’m trusting myself more than ever. I have what I call a peaceful perimeter.
What did you love most about playing your beloved Living Single character, Synclaire James-Jones?
KC: I love that she is who I am at my core—loving and kind. I’m not as naive as she is, but I am that trusting in people and believing in goodness. I often will go to bat for her when people go, “she was dingy and dumb.” Nah, she wasn’t dumb. She had her own way of looking at the world, and her own wisdom. I love that she had that moral fiber, being that she was authentically herself. And the other piece of it that I’m really proud of is that Synclaire and Overton were the only two that had a lasting, loving, healthy relationship. We had the Huxtables, and, of course, we saw Florida and James Evans have love, but I don’t think we had seen a young 20-something couple who loved each other, were true to each other and stood the test of time.
How do you “love on” yourself and practice self-care?
KC: Self-care is a part of self-love. The older I get, the more I’ve understood what self-love really is…loving yourself enough to make the decisions that are good for you. That might mean leaving a relationship that you can tell is not going to progress the way you’d like it to. If I’ve begged you to go to therapy with me and you’re not gonna even go and you don’t want to change, then I need to bounce. Self-love is learning to trust yourself, making commitments to yourself and keeping them.
I have a membership called the Radiant KimUnity and we talked about the relationship with yourself. That’s the most important relationship, where you eat like you love yourself, you exercise like you love yourself, you speak like you love yourself, and you act like you love yourself. You know, treating yourself like you are your own best friend. I can have someone who’s kind and loving and is a good partner, [but] if I don’t love myself to believe I can have those things, then I won’t even have ’em. I really wish that young women and young men [could] really understand what self-love is.
Can you talk more about the value of self-love as a foundation for loving someone else?
KC: [There’s] this quote, “The fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself.” It’s also the best love you will ever have, in my opinion. I was married at 23, then I got married again at 53—and I married the same guy twice. So I began to love myself differently and someone different showed up. I really think that when you take the responsibility of radiating your love out into the world, you will get it back. I tell people to look at their list of standards of what’s really important to them. You may have to look at things a little differently.
You are in a relationship, right?
KC: Yes. He is a partner in every sense of the word. We work together. We’re a team in every way. I realized what was missing from all of my relationships is partnership. We just came through COVID together. We got it over the Christmas holiday, and we were [really] sick. You know, going through the tough stuff is what just makes it even more delicious and real.
For those people who will find themselves “living single” this Valentine’s Day, what would you say to them?
KC: You get to choose to turn Valentine’s Day into Single Appreciation Day. I’d say appreciate having the whole bed to yourself, or appreciate that the dishes are done cuz you did ’em. Whatever that is, just appreciate you and “love on” yourself. You don’t have to have a partner in order to experience deep-lasting, true love.
What’s your advice for people who are looking to attract love in their life?
KC: The heart wants to give love and receive love, so if you start giving love, you kind of open up that gateway to receive it. Give kindness, give a smile; give, and you’ll begin to see it show up for you more. Get creative, cause at the core of creativity is love. Go to a paint-and-sip party. Put flowers in your house. Get a puppy. Express love wherever you can. And let your heart open up. Listen to a piece of music and allow it to show you that your heart is actually available to be opened up. You’ve just been guarding it. And if you put a guard gate around your heart, how can love ever get in?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.