Wisdom//

5 Celebrities Reveal the People Who Are Their Greatest Inspiration

Mary J. Blige, Tom Brady, Oprah Winfrey, and other stars weigh in on their influences.

Jun Sato / Contributor / Getty Images / Brazil Photo Press / Contributor / Getty Images / Taylor Hill / Contributor / Getty Images
Jun Sato / Contributor / Getty Images / Brazil Photo Press / Contributor / Getty Images / Taylor Hill / Contributor / Getty Images

When actress Taraji P. Henson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yesterday, singer and friend Mary J. Blige spoke about the impact Henson has had on her life during the ceremony.

“You have been a total inspiration to me…I never had a friend that I can call while I’m on set and say, ‘How do I do this as an actress?’ and you helped me when I needed help. In my mind, that’s rare because people don’t share, and you’re a sharer,” Blige said.

Often, as with Henson and Blige, our friends can be great sources of inspiration. But that’s not always the case. Here, four other celebrities share the people who inspire them most.

This teacher never faded from Oprah’s memory

Back in 1989, Oprah reunited with her beloved fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Duncan spoke about how the television host was an “ideal student” and “a fluent reader,” and Winfrey told her that she made her want “to be a fourth grade teacher.”

While Winfrey has had massive success since then, she shared how Duncan ultimately changed her life. “I always, because of you, felt I could take on the world. You did exactly what teachers are supposed to do, they create a spark for learning that lives with you from then on… It’s why I have a talk show today,” she said.

Many of us have been lucky enough to have had remarkable teachers. If it’s possible, going back and thanking them, as Winfrey did, can be valuable, both for ourselves, and because it acknowledges the importance of their work.

Tom Brady draws support from two special women in his life

New England Patriots football quarterback Tom Brady told reporters last year about the women who inspire him the most: his mom and his wife, Gisele Bündchen.

“My mom and my wife… They’re both amazing in their own way. My wife loves my mom too. My mom can do no wrong in my wife’s eyes, and my wife can usually do no wrong in my eyes,” he said. “I have a lot of support, and I have three sisters, so I have girls all around me.”

Beyoncé says Oprah makes her want to be on her best behavior 

Beyoncé Knowles spoke to Entertainment Weekly about her influences, calling Winfrey “the definition of inspiration and a strong woman. When I’m around her, I want to stand up straight, pronounce my words right, and articulate.”

Beyoncé works hard to achieve her goals, and she’s kept Winfrey as one of her lodestars through the years.

Selena Gomez’s mom shaped her career path

Gomez told TIME about the impact her mother’s work had on her at a young age — inspiring her to become an actress.

“My mom did a lot of theater growing up. So I think it was instinctual for me to perform. I loved being able to make people laugh, and if anyone was sad, I didn’t like it. I always tried to make people feel good, to feel something,” she said. “So whenever I would see my mom perform, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll have the chance to do that one day.’”

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