Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg & Lena Dunham Show Us Why We All Need A Mentor

Flickr / David Shankbone

Lena Dunham

Flickr / David Shankbone

Natalia Marulanda
Natalia Marulanda10
DEI Advocate. Pizza Enthusiast.
We hear a lot about the importance of having a mentor. And for good reason. A mentor will act as a sounding board, provide you with advice, and help you to build relationships. This is true no matter what line of work you’re in. In fact, even the most successful and well-known celebrities have relied on mentors to help guide them through their careers. Here are five celebrity mentor relationships that remind us of the power of a good mentor.
Viola Davis/Meryl Streep
Viola Davis and Meryl Streep met in 2008 and have been close friends ever since. In 2016, Viola Davis credited her friend and cinematic icon with giving her advice about her career and life. In an Elle magazine interview, Viola recounted how Meryl “[gives lessons in confidence] all the time.” Meryl was also there to watch Viola receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and regularly publically praises her former co-star for her talent. Like any good mentor, Meryl realizes the importance of showing up and of building up her mentee’s confidence.
Larry Summers and Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg has emerged as one of the leading voices of modern feminism. With the success of her first book, Lean In: Women , Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl has inspired thousands of women to take control of their careers.
She has also very publicly given credit to those who have mentored her along the way, particularly Larry Summers, who was her professor and later boss at the U.S. Treasury Department. Sheryl has described Summers as her “champion” and that because of his mentorship, she received opportunities she “wouldn’t have had without him.” This relationship is a wonderful example of how men can be effective mentors and sponsors for women.
Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou
Oprah Winfrey has served as a mentor for so many women. But who has mentored her? One of the women who inspired, challenged, and guided Oprah was poet and author, Maya Angelou. “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life.” Angelou taught Oprah the importance of teaching and of paying it forward. No doubt, her invaluable life lessons helped Oprah to become the source of inspiration for so many others.
Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham
Although Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham are from two different generations, they both shared a love of story-telling, particularly when it came to telling stories about women. Nora reached out to Lena after seeing her film “Tiny Furniture” and the rest was history. Lena credits Nora with giving her the advice that she’s taken with her in all of her endeavors, “You cannot wait around for someone to give you permission to tell your stories.” Until her death in 2012, Nora and Lena remained close and Lena eulogized her in an essay in The New Yorker, detailing how much her friendship and mentorship meant to her.
Elton John and Lady Gaga
There are few entertainers in the world who give the glitz, glam and fashion that Lady Gaga does in each of her performances. But she didn’t get the confidence and skill all on her own. She has openly called Elton John one of her mentors, and is even the godmother to his children. Elton has called Lady Gaga a “great role model” and has helped to guide her in journey through superstardom.
Natalia M. Marulanda is a former practicing attorney, currently working as a Women’s Initiative Manager at a law firm in New York City. She also runs The Girl Power Code, a blog that focuses on empowering women in the workplace.


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