Why Vanessa Williams never got a “real job”

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams, left, with her mom, Helen Tinch Williams, and brother Chris Williams, who is also a noted actor.

Every parent wants – or should want – their kids to dream big. You’ve got to think big to make it big, right?

But there’s a challenge: Eventually, dreamy kids will look to their parents and say, “I want to be a _________!” (Insert here the fame career of your choice – singer/actor/dancer/athlete/etc.)

Not every parent loves that. I’ve worked with many kids whose parents tell them, “That’s not realistic. You have to get a real job.”

Honestly, there’s a big part of me that would be inclined to say the same thing to my own kids.

But Vanessa Williams’ parents told her the opposite. When she came to them and said she wanted to be an entertainer, they told her, “Don’t get a real job! We believe in you. We support you.”

When I met Vanessa and her mother, Helen Tinch Williams, and brother, the actor Chris Williams, we chatted about that choice – one that many parents would never make.

“We always thought as parents it was important for us to support our kids in whatever life goal they chose for themselves,” Helen told me. “They both happened to be very creative and talented, and if they chose to do that, we felt it was our responsibility to encourage them in any way we could.”

Vanessa and Chris’ parents made sure they got music lessons, dance lessons, acting opportunities, and anything else they wanted or needed to pursue their dreams.

That encouragement worked. Vanessa and Chris both went on to become acclaimed entertainers. Chris has appeared in dozens of movies; Vanessa is one of the most successful triple-threats of our time.

Vanessa made it clear, though, that her parents’ support didn’t simply help her reach the top. it’s helped her survive the rigors of life in the spotlight. And we all know you don’t have to look far to find celebrities who crumbled with the world watching.

“So many artists have parents and support people who said, ‘You’re wasting your time. We don’t believe in you,’” Vanessa told me. She explained that this lack of support is what creates the “misery and personal commotion” we see in so many celebrities.

“They’re always trying to prove something,” she said, “and it gets in the way of the work.”

Tim O’Shei
LSY! founder

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