Feature: The Betts Is Yet to Come

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Jessica and Niecy

We all dream of holidays spent creating cute traditions with a significant other and hosting friends and family for holiday meals. But what does that look like in reality? What does queer love look like in the twinkle of holiday lights? This season, wives Niecy Nash (also known as Carol Denise Betts) and Jessica Betts gifted Tagg with an interview that answers some of our queer holiday questions.

Underneath the Mistletoe

(Photo by Robert Ector)

The Betts’ love story has all the hallmarks of a perfect meet-cute. You’ve probably read about how Jessica, a musical artist, and Niecy, an Emmy-award winning actress, started out as friends before falling madly in love four years later. Their romance remained a secret to much of the world until just after their August 2020 nuptials, when the two uploaded their wedding photos to social media.

As they finish celebrating their first anniversary, Jessica and Niecy are gearing up for their second holiday season as a married couple. In the Betts house, the most anticipated seasonal traditions are with one another. “I’m looking forward to standing under the mistletoe with my wife,” Jessica says, causing Niecy to laugh.

“Yes, to that,” Niecy says, “but also I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve. That’s when we have our private time together, drink eggnog, and exchange gifts.” The two reserve Christmas Day for family, when they have everyone over and host a big ‘pajama brunch.’

New Year’s celebrations provide a little more private time for the couple. “We’re definitely travelers, so we’ll be going away for New Years,” says Jessica. They already have a place in mind for this January but aren’t ready to share it with the world yet.

Niecy explains, “We love our home: We got married here. But before we got married, I told Jessica, ‘I want to put some stamps in this passport.’”

Being open to new experiences is part of what makes their relationship successful. Moving from a friendship into a romance required a leap of faith on both Niecy and Jessica’s part. “I love our relationship; I love how one- hundred percent it is. We both chose to dive in,” says Jessica.

“What would you say to someone thinking about getting married?” Niecy asks Jessica. She explains that people ask Jessica that question all the time.

Jessica thinks for a moment before answering. “Marriage is sacred. I didn’t look at marriage that way when I was younger. But now that I’m entering a new dimension of my life, I’m happier than I’ve ever been now that I’ve found someone who allows me to see myself. Love is never perfect, so you keep your eyes open and your heart open.”

While Niecy and Jessica embody #couplegoals, Niecy explains that true love doesn’t mean everything will always be easy. “The mantra in our house is ‘Will you love me when it hurts? Meaning, can you love me when we’re in pain or when you’re upset? Will you still make me a cup of coffee…when you’re mad at me?” The two say in unison, hinting that they’re on the same page when it comes to loving each other through life’s tougher moments.

Niecy offers her own bit of insight on those thinking of popping the question: “When you sign up for marriage, that’s what you’re signing up for. How do you love me when I’m unlovable? How do you invite me in to see you?”

An honest commitment to loving each other through thick and thin is clearly working well for the Betts. “If I could describe our first year of marriage in one word, it would be magical,” says Jessica.

“Awww, baby! I would say loving,” Niecy answers. “I’m with someone and for the first time I feel fully seen.”

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts

A Season for Giving

Since tying the knot, Jessica and Niecy have harnessed their love to uplift others. Both women sprinkle positive messages throughout their social media feeds in the form of quotes, advice, and encouraging messages to followers. Fans often reach out to share that the Betts’ marriage inspires them to seek their own happiness.

“We’re better together,” Niecy says. “If I post a picture of just me on my page, the likes are okay. If Jessica posts on hers, the likes are okay. But when we post together: BAM!”

After reflecting on why their Instagram feeds generate such positive energy, Niecy says, “There are so many people at any given moment who are in pain and struggling. I think we’re both natural encouragers and what we post on our pages is a reflection on who we are in the world, who we are as partners, and how we show up—even for each other.”

“It’s innate. We were called to share the things we do. It’s very spiritual,” says Jessica.

Representation and good advice aren’t the only way the Betts support their community. They practice philanthropy and joyfully pass forward the gifts that were bestowed upon them. “They call you a ‘starving artist’ because in the beginning of your career, you’re still trying to figure things out. Having financial support is so important when you’re trying to follow your dream,” Niecy explains. Having benefited from financial support in the early stages of their own careers, the Betts are happy to do the same for others.

Niecy also appeared at the sold out 40th annual Black Tie Dinner in Dallas, where she was awarded the 2021 Elizabeth Birch Equality Award. As the nation’s largest fundraising dinner for the LGBTQ community, Black Tie Dinner has distributed over $25 million to charitable organizations since 1982.

When Niecy reflects on her increased involvement in the LGBTQ community since marrying Jessica, she pulls from her own experience to offer this advice to others. “People ask me how I identify, and I say, ‘I don’t know, I just got here!’ I used to say, ‘I’m Jess-sexual.’ The truth is I’m Black and I’m happy. People want to label you right away, but I encourage people to give others room to just live their life.”

A Happy New Year

Niecy Nash

Looking forward to 2022, Jessica and Niecy share that they have a lot of exciting projects in the works. Jessica teases that new music will be out soon. “I do have a new album on the way, but I want to keep the anticipation on that. At the top of the year, I have a single and a visual coming out and I’m excited about that.”

Before Jessica can finish speaking, Niecy jumps in, “No, I’m excited because I hear things in the house. Because she’s in a new place, the music’s in a new place. It’s definitely going to be good for the fans.”

Aside from music, Jessica also appears in the short film, Live With It, which has yet to announce a release date.

Niecy’s next release is Claws’ fourth and final season on December 26. She describes it as “a delicious Christmas present to the fans.” As the new year rolls in, she’ll also appear on Fox as the host of the Don’t Forget the Lyrics reboot. Lyrics will give Niecy and Jessica a chance to work together. And, of course, the Emmy- nominated comedy Reno 911! is set to return, this time on the Roku Channel.

Release dates haven’t been announced for Niecy’s upcoming films, but fans should keep an eye out for Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story—a Ryan Murphy penned docuseries where Niecy will star alongside Evan Peters— and Beauty—a film written by Lena Waithe that tells the story of young singer on the brink of fame. Both will stream on Netflix.

Beyond that Niecy says, “I want to do a little more directing. I want to find places where our art—Jessica’s and mine—intersects.”
“I’m open to doing something based on our lives. Not a reality show, but maybe something scripted,” she adds.

Fingers crossed that Jessica and Niecy one day grace our screens with a film based on their whirlwind romance. Their beautiful queer love story sets the bar for the kind of love and partnership we should all aim for during the holiday season and beyond!

 

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“Betts is Yet to Come” Holiday Issue

 

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Sondra Rose Marie
Sondra Rose Marie
Sondra is an avid reader of YA fiction, master Instagram scroller, and proud lover of all things rainbow. She is an LA transplant from the South and enjoys contributing to Tagg from the West Coast.