In the competitive world of showbiz, having an established figure in the field leading the way could mark the difference between being a nameless entertainer and attaining global stardom.
Having mentors and role models among celebrities is a common practice in the entertainment industry. Upcoming stars tend to idolize established creatives, who they aspire to become at some point in their journey.
From Mark Zuckerberg to Denzel Washington, these entertainment giants have had to grow steadily under the mentorship of famous people before them.
Here is a list of some celebrities and their equally famous mentors who groomed them into the successful figures the world now reveres.
1. Jay Z (Mentee: Kanye West)
While Kanye West has become Hollywood royalty in the last decade, the renowned rapper may never have accomplished so much without Jay Z, another genius in the rap world, showing him the ropes.
Notably, the hip-hop mogul took West in and believed in him when no one else did. In fact, before his fame, the “Donda” star worked as a full-time producer at Jay-z’s Roc-A-Fella records.
Eventually, the record signed him as a rapper, giving him a shot against their better judgment. Under Jay-Z’s wings, West rapped his way to stardom, eventually becoming the renowned rap mogul, businessman, and fashion lord the world knows today.
2. Dr. Dre (Mentee: Eminem)
Dr. Dre and Eminem are perhaps the two famous stars with the most publicized mentor-mentee relationship. Notably, the latter’s life turned around the moment Dr. Dre listened to his demo for the first time and asked Jimmy Levine to seek him out.
The two worked together afterward, developing a relationship that went beyond their musical pursuits. Eminem paid tribute to Dre’s place in his success in his song, “I Need A Doctor,” acknowledging he owed his life to the rap mogul who came to him at his lowest.
3. Lil’ Wayne (Nicki Minaj)
Nicki’s infamous line, “Young Money raised me,” from her hit “Moment 4 Life,” has become somewhat symbolic of her path to success.
She also sang odes to the popular record label, championed by rapper Lil’ Wayne, in several other of her songs since her venture into the music scene.
Notably, as one of his young-money mates, Wayne takes the credits for nurturing Minaj into the songstress she became. More so, he did so, while availing her creative freedom over her music, personality, and style.
4. Ray Charles (Quincy Jones)
18-times Grammy winner Ray Charles contributed his quota to grooming one of the world’s most renowned entertainers of all time, Quincy Jones.
The National Medal of Arts awardee met Jones when he was only fourteen and two years his junior. The duo forged a friendship immediately that soon morphed into a working relationship.
Jones credits Charles with teaching him how to write and compose music when he was just a clueless novice. Charles willingly obliged, even if it meant sacrificing hours of sleep. The result was worthwhile.
Quincy Jones ended up becoming a world-famous composer, and one of only 16 people to snag the coveted EGOT title.
5. Usher (Justin Bieber)
While Usher and Bieber may seem like an unlikely pair, they have a history that led to the start of the latter’s career.
Early in Bieber’s career, he crossed paths with Usher, who was already an established figure in the music scene with several Grammy wins in his name.
The 27-year-old pop star, then a pre-teen approached Usher in a parking lot and asked if he could hear him sing. He scheduled a formal meeting with the upcoming star and the moment he saw a video of Bieber singing, he knew the “kid” had a future in showbiz.
Fast-forward years later, Justin Bieber has made a name for himself and has a firm standing in the industry, enough to groom a mentee of his own. Notwithstanding, Usher still considers Bieber as his child, never hesitating to defend him in the face of his numerous scandals.
6. Steven Spielberg (Matt Reeves and JJ Abrams)
Film director Steven Spielberg has given the world some of the best movies of all time. It comes as no surprise that the movie mogul has shaped the careers of other creatives, who went on to produce major box office hits.
Among his infamous proteges are “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves and “Star Wars” director JJ. Abrams. Notably, their paths crossed in the early 80s when Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy hired Reeves, then a teenager, and another teen, JJ Abrams to transfer one of Spielberg’s childhood films to tape.
The teenagers had just won a filmmaking award and Kennedy knew they could pull it off. They did so flawlessly, impressing Spielberg in the process. He took the duo under his wings and has since remained their friend and mentor.
7. Jane Fonda (Meryl Streep)
1977’s “Julia” marked the start of a life-long friendship between Hollywood icons Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep.
Following their meeting during the filming of the 70s blockbuster, Fonda remained a constant fixture in Streep’s life, giving her on-set guidance and recommending her for various career-defining roles.
During her speech at the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Streep acknowledged how Fonda’s “feral alertness” towards her boosted her career.
8. Maya Angelou (Oprah Winfrey)
Yes, Oprah Winfrey has a mentor too! The television personality and business mogul has been open about poet Maya Angelou’s contribution to making her into the prestigious woman she became.
Winfrey, a fan of the iconic poet’s book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” was lucky enough to meet her at the onset of her own career.
The two women connected in the seventies and ultimately formed a mother-daughter relationship between them. Angelou stood by Winfrey in the years that followed, guiding her every step of the way and becoming the best mentor she ever knew.
9. Dolly Parton (Miley Cyrus)
Miley Cyrus might be the luckiest star on the block to have country singer Dolly Parton for a godmother. It almost seemed like her successful career was set in stone right from birth.
Parton once went candid about her role in Miley’s life, which went beyond being a godparent.
She detailed how she always endeavored to show her goddaughter the ropes in the industry and give her opinion when needed without imposing or condemning the “Hannah Montana” stars’ choices.
10. Sidney Poitier (Denzel Washington)
Before Denzel Washington became a two-time Oscar winner and the greatest actor of the 21st century, he was just a garbage man aspiring to become an actor.
At that phase of his life, he idolized one African-American star, who was making waves in the international movie scene – Sidney Poitier.
Following a chance meeting with the legend, who later got the chance to watch him in a stage play, Poitier and Washington developed an unbreakable friendship.
While accepting his 2002 Oscar win for “Training Day,” Washington admitted he’d been chasing Poitier for forty years. He dedicated the award to the “Elder” star, who served as his mentor throughout his career and gave him one of the best pieces of advice he ever received.
Denzel Washington would go on to mentor other Hollywood icons like the late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, another renowned celebrity.
This goes to prove how mentoring upcoming entertainers translates to giving back to society in the world of art.