Reprint: by Yvette Caslin, RollOut, Sat., May. 3, 2014 11:01 AM EDT
Let me just start by saying they have vastly differing goals and values. When I say they, I am referring to two very popular black women, Mellody Hobson and Vanessa Stiviano, who make great headlines and are connected to two very wealthy white men, legendary filmmaker George Lucas and NBA franchise owner Donald Sterling, respectively.
One power couple met at a business conference in 2006. They were engaged in January of 2013 and married that June at the Skywalker Ranch.
The second, not your traditional couple, is an alleged mistress who is self described as “Mr. Sterling’s personal assistant, his right hand, his wingman.” Stiviano tells Barbara Walters during an interview on “20/20″ this past Friday about her relationship with the owner of the LA Clippers franchise, who’s been the center of mainstream media and tabloid fodder all week after leaked audio recordings revealed his unwarranted disdain for black people via racist rants.
Mellody Hobson, 44, was a self-made millionaire prior to meeting George Lucas, 69, the creator of the 34-year-old Star Wars franchise, whose net worth is $5 billion. The president of Ariel Investments, Hobson earned her AB degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She also received honorary doctorate degrees in humanities from both Howard University and St. Mary’s College. She sits on the boards of the The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Starbucks Corporation, Dreamworks Animation SKG and Groupon.
Vanessa Stiviano, who up until the end of this week, was simply referenced as V. Stiviano, is self made too. Hers is more of a reinvention. The model, 31, was born Maria Perez and raised in a small Section 8 home in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Mexican and her father is black. She changed her name from Maria Perez to V. Stiviano in 2010 because she faced racism due to her Hispanic name. Stiviano said she and Donald Sterling, 78, met while she was working for Sterling’s non-profit organization, the Donald T. Sterling Foundation and their relationship evolved “to so much more.” She denies claims she is his mistress.
Stiviano tells Walters, “He first started paying me as an employee and then he started paying me off the books.” She reportedly lives in a multimillion dollar home, has four luxury cars and is paid $240,000 for living expenses.
“I became part of Mr Sterling’s team. I became someone who protected him, someone who took care of him, someone who watched everything he said and did, and people did not like that.”
Hobson is a woman who imparts her wisdom by serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high quality, out-of-school time programs. Furthermore, she is a board member of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, The Chicago Public Education Fund, Sundance Institute and is on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. And she has a passion for educating minorities on investing.
Stiviano has a passion for fashion, baubles and flamboyance. While shortsighted and misguided, it’s not as uncommon for women of color as we would like to think.
During a recent TED talk, Hobson admitted she too faced racism as a black woman. Fortunately, for those of us who admire her greatly and regard her a mentor and inspiration, she didn’t elect to change her name, invest in some new boobs and rely on her physicality to reach her dreams. Hobson’s mother prepared her. Once, she attended a birthday party where she was the sole black person and her mother asked: “How did they treat you?” Hobson wondered why did she ask? Her mother warned: “They will not always treat you well.”
Unfortunately for Stiviano, formerly Perez, her mother became a victim to poverty and was arrested in 2002 for making three of her kids steal $300 worth of groceries from a store.
Conditions were not great for Hobson who grew up in Chicago but every single day her mother told her, “Mellody, you can be anything. Because of those words, I would wake up at the crack of dawn and love school more than anything. Because of that, I would dream the biggest dreams. Because of that, I’m standing here today asking you to be brave for the kids of today,” she praises.
Either no one told Maria Perez she can achieve her dreams without risking her reputation and losing her soul or she just wasn’t listening.