In this day and age, dating can feel like it's for the birds. With social media dictating new standards every week and having to find people worthy of your time and alignment, it feels extra difficult to find someone who is bae material.

If you are fortunate to find someone and develop a deep bond with them, it may come with many complexities and hurdles that feel so insurmountable that you have no choice but to resort to last-ditch efforts like ultimatums. Many people have different sentiments on the efficacy of ultimatums and Mal Wright, co-star of Netflix's The Ultimatum: Queer Love discovered just how well they work—or not. She also picked up new skills integral to building a healthy relationship along the way.

Wright spoke to EBONY about her experience on The Ultimatum: Queer Love. She also gave us the lowdown on the lessons learned from her own dating and relationship encounters.

EBONY: In what ways does your identity bring you strength?

Mal Wright: Being strong in my identity has never felt like a choice.  As I reflect on my life, it feels like more of a life long practice.  I've always been taller than the other girls, appeared more masculine in presentation; I didn't fit the body type of societal desirability amongst Black community. I've always challenged the beliefs and status quo of conventional heteronormative dynamics and my assumed role in these constructs.  My efforts to conform or fit in always pulled me away from my most authentic expression of self.  My most freeing moment was my mother saying, "You've fought so hard to be who you are, don't hide or change that for anyone." 

How did the opportunity to participate in The Ultimatum: Queer Love arrive?

As they say, it went down in the DMs. The show's casting department reached out and name-dropped someone I knew.  My partner at the time was gently pressing the issue of wanting to take our relationship to the next step. In this case, practical me wanted to have a more stable foundation before taking those steps.  Hesitantly, trusting my partner, I thought this might serve us well and if we're on the same page going into this it certainly shouldn't hurt. 

Looking back, what are the greatest lessons that the show has taught you about love and relationships?

Do not gamble with your relationship. Also, we are far more intuitive than we give ourselves credit. Trust your gut and go to therapy.  It really helps to have tools and language to help you express your feelings, hold space for your loved ones and examine what's working for you vs what's not.  

mal wright_netflix the ultimatum
Image: courtesy of Victoria Kovios(@visionbykovios)/ Movement Director: Maya Samaha(@mayamused).

How do you hope that your presence on the show opens up the lane for more Black queer folks to be seen on other dating shows in the future or in media in general?

I'm hoping there continues to be collaborative safe efforts exercised at the point of conception, casting, filming and editing. Black queerhood is so expansive, deep, beautiful, nourishing, full, delectable, ever evolving and deeply connected to roots and history. There are so many lenses to our stories that need and deserve to be told and also need to be held and handled with care when delivering. I'm hoping my presence aids in highlighting existing stories. I also hope companies with budgets allocate their resources to the folks that can develop our stories accordingly.  

What are some dating rules of thumb that you’d share with other queer Black folks who are looking for love? 

1. Being Black and queer is a very nuanced existence.  Date people who have an understanding and desire to preserve you as you. Keep your Blackness safe and exalted. 

2. Date folks who are committed to harm reduction as a part of their foundational practice. 

3. You don't have to consummate every single connection. Some connections can just be platonic— even when there's "sexy energy." 

4. If longevity is the key, ask yourself: can you see yourself being old with this person? Would you still like this person’s humanhood after the spark is gone?