Bobbi Kristina Brown has attained a new level of fame since the untimely passing of her mother Whitney Houston. No longer her pop star mom’s ever present sidekick, she is now a media sensation in her own right. Bobbi Kristina has blown minds by saying she wants to change her name to Kristina Houston and allegedly dating her informally adopted brother. And the public follows her every move.
Despite this shocking conduct, Bobbi Kristina told Oprah Winfrey that she wants to sing, dance and act like her parents — on the heels of the revelation that she is the sole heir to Houston’s estate. Given the budding starlet’s well-publicized encounters with fame’s dark side (such as naughty drug pics and rumored stints in rehab), what can Bobbi do to ensure that she properly manages her inherited legacy?
Kevin Noble Maillard, associate professor of law at Syracuse University, thinks that Bobbi Kristina is in a good place financially because of the nature of her trust fund. Whitney stipulated that Bobbi will not receive a lump sum, giving her a chance to grow into her wealth responsibly.
“Bobbi Kristina’s inheritance will not come all at once,” Maillard told theGrio. “The will provides that the bulk of the estate will be held in trust for her, to be distributed in portions. Bobbi Kristina will receive payments at ages 21, 25, and 30, with each distribution increasing in value.”
Bobbi Kristina can also gain access to additional funds for special occurrences like a wedding or a home purchase. “The trust structure is entirely appropriate for Bobbi Kristina,” Maillard said. “Her trustees, who are also her relatives, will be able to place limits on her spending. If she needs treatment, they can dig into the trust principal in order to cover expenses. And if she is doing quite well, they can support and reward her within limits of the written trust.”
But Whitney was also surrounded by family members as advisers. Elayne Fluker, executive editor of digital media for Black Enterprise, questions whether relatives make the best support team. “I will say this about covering celebrity finances and their businesses,” Fluker told theGrio, “From those in front of the camera like Tasha Smith and Beverly Johnson to those behind the scenes like Chris Lighty and Cortez Bryant, there is one key factor that seems imperative to an entertainer’s success and longevity: a solid, quality, trustworthy team. And the ‘best’ team isn’t necessarily going to be one made up of your family and best friends.”
Fluker recommends to Bobbi Kristina: “You want people who are the most qualified to move you, your career, and your business ahead. Who’s the best accountant to handle your finances? Does your manager share your vision for your career and how you will position yourself? Who can you trust on your team to tell you NO when you need to hear it? These are the kinds of questions Bobbi Kristina, and any entertainer starting out, needs to ask.”
If she can form the right team, Bobbi Kristina has a real shot at growing her inheritance, if she can spend soberly. The bigger challenge might be parlaying her parent’s talents into a career of her own. Even with the right team supporting Bobbi Kristina, singing, dancing and acting are disciplines that demand hard work and proper branding for success. Bobbi Kristina must apply herself to make it. This will mean cleaning up her party girl image.
Tianna Robinson of PR Noir based in New York City believes that overcoming her bad girl reputation will be paramount. “She should work on cleaning up her image, prove her talent and perfect her craft, instead of riding the coattails of her parents and their name,” this public relations professional told theGrio. “She needs to define herself and her celebrity around her individuality. What is her special talent that makes people want to pay attention? She unfortunately has the task of cleaning up a somewhat tarnished name.”
The cold world of show business has been an element in her parents’ undoing — and Bobbi has already fallen prey to a former “friend” who sold photos of her allegedly snorting cocaine. Bobbi must brace herself to face these dangers.
“The entertainment world can be a scary place, with lots of negative influences and it unfortunately it can change people for the worst, especially younger misguided people,” Robinson said. Her advice? “Stand true to your core values and don’t sell your soul for a quick dollar or fame. Seek a trusted mentor who has braved the entertainment world before you. Have fun, but know and adhere to what your limits are.”S. Tia Brown — JET magazine entertainment editor, certified life coach, and licensed therapist — believes that now is the perfect time for Bobbi Kristina to make that sometimes difficult transition from being a child to becoming a woman, which includes recognizing limits. “She is very much a woman now. People will be less forgiving,” Brown said of the public’s increased scrutiny.
“As the daughter of an icon and aspiring talent, Bobbi Kristina needs to accept one thing: Her life isn’t totally her own. Fans — and critics — have a vested interest in her success, and sadly, her failures,” the life coach continued. “Instead of rebelling she must learn to use her perceived power to her advantage.”
Bobbi Kristina’s recent displays of heavy PDA with “play” brother Nick Gordon are only fueling rumors that she is not adapting well. “Acting out only hurts her brand, which is ultimately her meal ticket,” Brown said of such behavior. “She doesn’t want to work at Target. And whether her mother left her $100,000 or $100 million, it can all be squandered. Bobbi Kristina must focus on being a brand. Not a brat.”
Some see Bobbi’s behavior as beyond bratty. Her grandmother, Cissy Houston, has called her intense involvement with Gordon “incest.” In response, friends of Bobbi Kristina related (through gossip blog TMZ) that the starlet “can’t please everyone, so she is going to please herself by doing what she wants to do.”
Brown disagrees with such a tactic. “She has had a life filled with both privilege and trauma,” the therapist empathized. “While her parents had tremendous success professionally, their personal lives and public debacles sullied their careers.”
Brown cautions Bobbi to avoid mirroring her parent’s lack of retraint. “She must learn less maladaptive ways to deal with the pressure of fame, if she wants to avoid self-destruction.”
Yet, Brown sees Bobbi’s difficult past as an opportunity to promote herself as the entertainer she wants to become. “Everyone wants to know what she has learned from her parents — good and bad! Lets face it, at their heights both Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were tremendous acts in very different ways. Houston was all about the voice, but Brown was the ideal pop star because of his ability to woo a crowd.”
Bobbi Kristina can use these elements to her advantage as she ventures into her own space. “Tell everyone how that medley will make her a stronger talent,” Brown recommends for the developing performer. “In addition, she must go the extra mile to ensure she lets potential investors — such as labels and product lines — know she is reliable.”
POSHGLAM.com founder and entrepreneur Kimberly Stone built her multi-cultural glamour destination through the power of social media. Now a recognized social media expert in the field of online fashion and beauty, Stone urges Bobbi Kristina to use tools like Twitter and Facebook with caution from this moment forward.
“Everyone sends emotional tweets and compulsive facebook status updates,” Stone told theGrio, “but if she feels a potential statement represents more than a temporary vent, she should think about what she is feeling. If her feelings are dangerous, then she needs to resolve them. She should pay attention to how her social media statements may be perceived, and determine if that’s the way she wants to present herself publicly.”
Even though Bobbi Kristina has been known to tweet things that have branded her negatively (such as this), Stone urges her to think less about the past, and more about her future. “I would also tell her to consider not the way she is perceived, but how she wants to be percieved,” the online businesswoman suggested. “There is a difference.”
But even more important to Stone is Bobbi Kristina’s spiritual and emotional grounding. “I really think people in the public eye have to remain grounded and centered in spirituality,” Stone continued. “Poor Bobbi Kristina should turn within and understand that the choices she currently makes will impact her indefinitely. The media is very hyper-conscious of drama and scandal.”
In response to the media’s infatuation with her every move, Stone recommended that, “Bobbi Kristina should try to parlay any adversity into a positive learning experience. From every obstacle comes an opportunity to triumph. Although she’s going through a hard time, she should surround herself with positive people and people she wants to emulate, and start to build a life of happiness and success for herself.”
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