Whether they were aware or not, I have had numerous female mentors, even if they were only mentors “in my head.” The very first person I considered a mentor, in a field I was remotely interested in, was Johnnie Walker, founder of National Association of Black Females and Executives in Entertainment (NABFEME) and former marketing and promotions executive at Def Jam Records.
I was very zealous about attending the events held by this organization because it put me in the same room with some, if not all, of the most prominent women in entertainment. Whether it was a networking reception, conference or panel, I made it a point to introduce myself to these women and would instantly daydream about them being my Fairy God Mentor, bringing me along for the ride and introducing me to those I would need know to assist in my career matriculation.
While attending a NABFEME conference in Chicago in the summer of 2005, I was nominated for Legal Counsel of the Year alongside some of the biggest, brightest and most accomplished African-American female attorneys in entertainment. I was just happy to be mentioned in the same breath as Lisa Bonner, Dedra Davis (another mentor and former boss), Heather Nelson-Beverly; so imagine my surprise when I actually won the award. “You mean to tell me I received this award over the woman who represents Lupe Fiasco? For real?! How did that happen?”
Lisa had an extremely successful practice in Los Angeles and moved to New York a couple of years after this conference took place. As soon as I got wind that she moved to New York, I invited her out to dinner just to get re-acquainted (because of course as a mentor in my head, we had spent tons of time together). We discussed our careers, new ventures, dating, bullsh*t, you name it. I was ecstatic to be in her presence, but could not muster up the courage to ask her outright to be my mentor. You want to know why? Well, let me tell you. It’s because (in my head) these women were tremendously busy and I did not want to bother them with my questions, concerns, crying, whining and soul searching.