A Prince performance was already an elusive experience; one at a wedding reception was a complete rarity.
But George Lucas and Mellody Hobson made it happen in 2013, and the Ariel Investments president — and a director of The Estee Lauder Companies, Groupon and Starbucks Corp. — recalled the experience Monday afternoon during an acceptance speech at the Matrix Awards.
“I want to talk about something that I really believe connects us all, something that w all have in common: We’ve all danced to music by Prince,” she said at the annual New York Women in Communications luncheon. “You could’ve been dancing in your car, you could’ve been at prom, maybe it was a bar mitzvah, maybe you were just alone in the privacy of your own bedroom, but we’ve all been moved — literally, physically moved — by this remarkable artist.
“I didn’t know Prince, but I loved his music, so much so that when George and I got married and we planned our wedding reception, we reached out to ask him if he’d be willing to play. And much to our shock and sheer delight, he said yes!” she shared. “So for one extraordinarily busy day, I got to see his genius up close. Watching his passion and perfectionism reminded me of a rhyme that my mother used to say to me. She said, ‘Be the labor, great or small, do it well or not at all.’ She said it over and over again. This labor, in the whole scheme of things, it was a wedding, it was small. But Prince, with his 22-piece band, they had 40 guitars, they played like it was everything. It could’ve been the Oscars, it was a full concert.
“I had been feeling really sad about losing this once-in-a-lifetime creative spirit. It really made me appreciate something,” Hobson reflected. “In the past, I’ve been talking a lot about my desire to be unapologetically black and unapologetically female. Prince was unapologetically original. He demanded artistic freedom when he was just 17 years old on his first album. He dressed like no one else. … When he was present, it was like there was no one else, there was no one like him. And in being comfortable with who he was, he gave so many other people permission to become cool with themselves. I believe that is communication on a very deep, very human level.”
She concluded: “I think the world would actually be a better place if we were all unapologetically originally, especially women and minorities who are so often expected to conform. Like Prince, let’s accept our uniqueness while celebrating the uniqueness.”
Hobson was honored alongside The Hollywood Reporter’s co-president and chief creative officer Janice Min, Lena Dunham and A+E Networks’ CEO Nancy Dubuc, among others.