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19 Black Hollywood Legends Who Supported Up-And-Coming Talent

After Meghan Markle and her family officially parted ways with the British royals in 2020, their Vancouver Island home was swarming with photographers because they didn't have enough security. Tyler Perry — who hadn't met them yet — was worried about them. So, during a call with Meghan, he said, "My house is safe. ... You're going to stay as long as you need. And I'm going get you there safely. And I'm gonna keep you there safely until you have somewhere to go."

Hollywood often seems to have a culture of competition, so it's heartwarming to see successful celebs who are uplifting new talent. That kind of support often sets a young performer up for an amazing career.

Here are 19 Black Hollywood legends who supported up-and-comers:

1. On the set of Raven's Home, Raven-Symoné mentored her onscreen children, Navia Robinson and Issac Ryan Brown, teaching them to be better comedy actors while also encouraging them to make time to enjoy their childhoods.

The cast of "Raven's Home"

Issac told the LA Times, "I don’t think there's anyone else I'd rather study under. She's the perfect example because she was a kid star. She really understands us."

2. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler workshopped the script with Lupita Nyong'o to shape her character Nakia into "more than just the love interest," which was important to both of them.

Lupita Nyong'o and Ryan Coogler

She told the Hollywood Reporter, "We wanted her to have her own agency, to occupy her own space, as well as, of course, to support T'Challa. One of the things we worked on was making her part and parcel of the main argument of the story, about whether to keep the borders open. At the heart of it, she’s an activist, which is a spirit I relate to."

3. After seeing then-20-year-old Denzel Washington in a play, Sidney Poitier went backstage to tell him how good he was. It was "all [Denzel] needed to hear" and "kept [him] going."

Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington

Denzel told Entertainment Tonight, "He was a mentor, needless to say, an example, a friend. He's someone who had been there, walked the walk, talked the talk."

4. In college, Chadwick Boseman was accepted into the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer program, but he couldn't afford the tuition. So, his professor reached out to her friend, Denzel Washington, who agreed to cover the fees for not only Chadwick, but several of his classmates as well.

During a speech honoring Denzel as a recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, Chadwick said, "Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet. ... There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington. And not just because of me, but my whole cast — that generation — stands on your shoulders."

5. When Yara Shahidi was applying to Harvard University, First Lady Michelle Obama, a Harvard Law alum, wrote her a recommendation letter.

Michelle Obama and Yara Shahidi

Yara told W magazine, "She is very amazing and such a supporter, which is something very surreal to say."

6. On the Nope set, Keke Palmer felt "like [she] was going to an art school, and [she] got an internship to watch Jordan Peele film a movie." She "was really watching, learning, and creating the space for mentorship to learn from the relationship that Jordan had with his producers and...actors."

Keke Palmer and Jordan Peele

She told the Washington Post, "He empowers the other people on set. He has a clear vision, but he also trusts the people that he's hired. As an actor, I just wanted to make sure that I was listening and making sure that I could tell his story, because I also really believed in what he was trying to do. It's just a very cool and genuinely collaborative process."

7. When Tiffany Haddish was first trying to make it as a comedian in LA, Kevin Hart found out she was sleeping in her car. So, he gave her $300 to get a motel room for the week and advised her to "write out a list of goals and start doing something every day toward those goals."

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish

She told Vanity Fair, "I wrote: 'Get myself an apartment.' Do these things, all these people I wanna work with, everything. I pretty much tackled almost all those goals. But it's crazy, because the next day, I got a phone call and was offered an apartment."

She later paid him back on the set of their movie Night School.

8. Beyoncé signed Chlöe and Halle Bailey to her record label, Parkwood Entertainment, after their cover of her song "Pretty Hurts" went viral.

From the get-go, she reportedly planned to "be actively involved in managing" them as well. 

9. After Meghan Markle and her family officially parted ways with the British royals in 2020, their Vancouver Island home was swarming with photographers because they didn't have enough security. Tyler Perry — who hadn't met them yet — was worried about them. So, during a call with Meghan, he said, "My house is safe. ... You're going to stay as long as you need. And I'm going get you there safely. And I'm gonna keep you there safely until you have somewhere to go."

In the Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, Meghan said, "He sent me a letter before the wedding just saying he was praying for me and that if I ever need anything, he would be there. Months and months and months went by. And then one day, when we were in Canada, I had called him. Finally, after years at that point, first time we ever spoke, and I was just a wreck, I was just crying and crying. Sometimes, it's just easier to open up to someone who knows nothing at all. And that was that moment with me and Tyler."

10. In the '90s, Dionne Warwick called a group of young male rappers, including Snoop Dogg, to her house for a 7 a.m. meeting, where she confronted them about using misogynist words in their lyrics. She told them, "You guys are all going to grow up. You're going have families. You're going to have children. You're going to have little girls, and one day, that little girl is going to look at you and say, 'Daddy, did you really say that? Is that really you?' What are you going to say?"

In the film Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over, Snoop said, "She was checking me at a time when I thought we couldn't be checked. We were the most gangsta as you could be, but that day at Dionne Warwick's house, I believe we got out-gangstered that day."

11. At a tour stop in Columbus in 1993, Snoop Dogg pulled 6-year-old Shad Moss onto the stage with him. Impressed with the kid's impromptu performance, he gave him the nickname Lil' Bow Wow then later helped him launch his rap career.

Bow Wow and Snoop Dogg

One of Bow Wow's earliest releases, "Bow Wow (That's My Name)," was a duet with Snoop.

12. When Ray Charles was 17, he befriended then-14-year-old Quincy Jones. Ray would teach Quincy lessons in Braille, including how to write and compose music.

Ray Charles and Quincy Jones

Ray told Mentoring Month, "I would work at night from 1:00 to 5:00 in the morning, get home at 6:00 a.m., and Quincy would wake me up at 9:00 a.m. ... I loved him so much I'd get up out of bed — sleep just didn't matter anymore because it was him. You could tell that he wanted to learn, he wanted to know. And because I was able to show him some things, that made me happy, that's what stirred my heart. I could help this kid. I love Quincy very much. If I got a dime, he got a nickel; I mean, that's just the way it is."

13. Quincy Jones discovered Oprah Winfrey when she was working as a TV host in Chicago. He recommended her to Steven Spielberg for a role in The Color Purple.

Quincy Jones and Oprah

She made her film debut as Sofia in the movie.

14. When Michael Jackson was 19, he met Quincy Jones on the set of The Wiz and told him he needed a producer for his debut solo album. At first, Quincy wanted to focus only on the movie, but soon after, he gave Michael a song he'd been saving for Frank Sinatra.

Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones

They went on to collaborate on three of Michael's most iconic albums — Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad.

15. At a house party, Quincy Jones had Will Smith do an impromptu audition for the top NBC execs, which impressed the onlookers so much that the contract for him to star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was drawn up that night.

Will Smith and Quincy Jones

In a YouTube video, Will said, "We took a picture, and we signed the basic deal for Fresh Prince, and three months later, we were shooting the pilot, and that’s the story of how I became the Prince of Bel-Air."

16. On the King Richard set, Will Smith made sure everyone — including his young costars Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, and Layla Crawford — "felt comfortable and safe and had a great time" and "felt included and felt the love."

At the Red Notice premiere, Layla said, "He gave us Polaroid cameras and different treats all the time. He's just such a generous and sweet person. He also gave us iPhone 12 Pro Max gifts in boxes. We ripped them open, and everyone started crying. I literally cried my eyes out — it was the best gift ever. Will Smith is a blessing, I learned so much from working with him."

17. Lil Wayne discovered Nicki Minaj then mentored her, encouraging her to be herself. Before him, "no one relevant in hip-hop really gave [her] that support."

Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne

She told Interview, "Before I met Wayne, the person that was spearheading my career was the one person who always told me, 'Don't be too playful, don't be too kooky and weird…no one's gonna feel that, nobody wants to hear that.' So, I stifled a lot of that early on, and then, once that we parted ways, I was like, 'Guess what, I'm gonna just be me.'"

18. Whitney Houston acted as a mentor for Monica, encouraging her to keep making songs about urban life — even though it went against the mainstream — and to keep wearing her thigh-high leather boots — even though other people advised her to switch to fancy gowns.

Whitney Houston and Monica

She also gave her singing tips, advising her to keep her notes "pure" but also to look for "spaces and places to add inflections, but not too much."

19. And finally, after Oprah Winfrey first met Maya Angelou in the '70s, the poet was "there for [her] every step of the way." She was "a wise, loving presence and the greatest mentor [Oprah has] ever known."

Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey

In O magazine, Oprah said, "She calls me her darling girl, and I call her my mother-sister-friend. And as I soak up her wisdom and marvel at her stamina, I bask in the pure, contagious joy she takes in living."

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