Industrious Gold Diggers: Women Who Made Their Own Money After Marrying Money

October 5, 2011  |  

Gold Digger

A simple search online will reveal the commonly held misconception that many black women are gold diggers. Gold Diggers of course come in many colors and temperaments, ranging from kind and coddling to bossy or even lazy. But we are not here today to judge whether being a gold digger itself is bad or good, or what a women should do once she snags that man with cash. We are hear to cast an eye on that rare breed of woman who binds her meal ticket in hold matrimony, then bleeds him dry in order to create her own empire. This rare species — the Industrious Gold Digger — does not sit idly by and get manicures once she has secured the ring. Nor does she nag her new husband to death in a grim attempt to hold on to her money bag. No. She takes that access to wealth and parlays it into a fortune of her own, so she can keep or leave the man at her bidding. Regardless of whether the relationship goes sour, The Industrious Gold Digger has used her mate as a stepping stone to her personally controlled economic power. Here are seven such women who have capitalized on marrying up.

 Shaunie O’Neal

Shaunie O'Neal

When Shaunie O’Neal reached a divorce settlement with her ex-husband Shaquille, some thought the allegations of his cheating would lead this scorned woman to curl up in a corner and lick her wounds — lying on her hefty pile of alimony. But this was not the case. Shaunie very intelligently used knowledge of his affairs to secure a better settlement than would have been allowed by their existing pre-nuptial agreement. And of course she parlayed that fortune and the experience gained by being married to the NBA star into her “Basketball Wives” franchises. Now the executive producer of a few hit reality TV series, Shaunie is certainly an industrious gold digger who made good.

Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons got a juicy divorce and child support settlement from her former husband Russell Simmons, but she was using their relationship to upgrade her career way before they hit the skids. She was named president and creative director of Phat Fashions several months before officially filing for divorce from her ex-husband. Although at the time the firm was no longer owned by Russell, it was his connections that got her into the company at such a high level. She has also used the exposure gained through their marriage to launch fragrances, a series of books, and a reality TV series. Let’s face it — she likely married for money at least in part, but Kimora has worked hard to extend her brand through her own efforts. It was smart to utilize her husband as a starting mechanism.

Rachel Roy

Rachel Roy

Rachel Roy is now a well-respected designer who creates beautiful clothes that are sold in the most luxurious stores in the world. But she started her career as an intern at Rocawear, where she caught the eye of Damon Dash when he still had money. After several years of dating, Roy married Dash despite his documented history of cheating. Can you blame her for using his cash while she could to start her own clothing line? She certainly has the design chops, as her frocks are gorgeous. Good for Roy for using Dash’s connections and capital to launch a lucrative brand of her own, that far outshines Rocawear today.

Tracey Edmonds

Tracey Edmonds

This girl from Cali is now the Chief Operating Officer and President of Our Stories Films, a film production company that focuses on urban audiences, in addition to being the CEO of her own production firm, Edmonds Entertainment. That second title is interesting to us, because she started this enterprise with her then-husband Babyface, the cool crooner who knew a mix of beauty and brains when he saw it. Edmonds was certainly an accomplished woman way before she met Babyface, having earned a degree from Stanford in psychobiology. But it was not until her marriage to Babyface that her entertainment career blossomed. Rather than using her beauty in front of the camera, Tracey focused on the creative ideas that drove some of our community’s favorite movie and TV programming, such as the film and television versions of “Soul Food.” Now divorced from the pop star that provided her gateway into the entertainment field, Edmonds has a career that outshines his in terms of money-making power and cultural influence.  Well done!

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian would be nobody today if she had not made her sex video with Ray-J. While she has was never married to Nick Cannon or Reggie Bush, or any of the other high profile black men she has been linked with, it is safe to say that she connected with them as a path towards fame from obscurity. It is certain that she never expected a sex video with a minor R&B star to be her ticket to fortune, but when her number came up, she ran with it. Millions of dollars later, it appears that dating all those rich black men was the perfect method of self-enrichment for Kim — and her entire family, which has been able to multiply her fame through their many endeavors.

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams married her NBA baller hubby to gain access to the glamorous life, but she has plenty of positive personal attributes to fall back on. She graduated from college cum laude, and owns a fitness franchise in addition to being on the hit VH1 show “Basketball Wives.” Fame from the reality TV series has enabled her to launch her own lip gloss line, Lucid, in addition to extending her personal brand. She is certainly her own woman, but likely would never have made it this far were it not for her soon-to-be-former spouse. Kudos to her for cashing out on the position that her marriage afforded her, as Williams reaches out to explore even greener pastures — emotionally and financially.

Lisa Wu

Lisa Wu

Wu was once married to Keith Sweat, and went on to wed former NFL player Ed Hartwell before joining the cast of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Although no longer married to Ed or on the show, Lisa was able to stir the public’s interest in her through her marriage. Before her marriage granted her access to the show, no one had ever heard of her. It is as though she learned from her first failed marriage to a much more famous man that she had to make a name for herself rather than relying on her husband. Now that she is free and more famous, she has been exploring many options including acting. Maybe she didn’t make a fortune, but Wu did make something of herself.

Tory Burch

Tory Burch and Beyonce

Tory Burch comes from a respectable middle class background, but her career really heated up after marrying the incredibly wealth financier Christopher Burch (who was her second millionaire match). During their union, Burch launched her eponymous line which has become a huge smash. Now that she is a runaway success, Burch has divorced her husband and has been linked to much more romantic figures like Lance Armstrong. If you are going to be an industrious gold digger, that’s the way to do it.

Georgina Chapman

Georgina Chapman and Kerry Washington

Georgina Chapman is still married to her super-powerful husband, film producer extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein. The co-founder of the super-hot fashion line Marchesa unfortunately broke up Weinstein’s former marriage in order to snag him. In addition, it is a strange coincidence that she launched her high-end brand in the same year that he left his wife — 2004. Still, an industrious gold digger does what she has to do. Perhaps that is what attracts the powerful man to her side — the quest for power that they both share.

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  • lilkunta

    i didnt know tory was married and divorced from 2 rich men.

    do we know for a fact she used her 2nd husband for a come up ?

  • lilkunta

    why is lisa wu on this list ? she didnt hit gold. keith sweat divorced her and has custody of their sons so lisa isnt getting payments. She isnt getting payments from Ed Hartwell either( they have joint custody of their son EJ) .

  • lilkunta

    she does marry rich. she married millionaire russell and now is married to millionaire Tim Leissner
    But she only dated djimon housou(and had a son with him).
    It seems she only marries rich.

  • lilkunta

    no no NO! tracey does NOT outshine Kenny in terms of money making power adn cultural infleunce. she is a joke with her eddie murphy foolishness.

  • lilkunta

    come on! no way is tracey edmonds making more $ than babyface.

    He has has 26 #1 Rb songs and has earned 11 grammy awards amongst other awards. She is a laughing stock with her sham marriage but really just a non legal ceremony to eddie murphy. now she is hosting for Extra. yab yum records closed. her movie “who’s your caddy” bombed. Thankfully ‘jumpong the broom’ was much better.

    Now she is dating deion sanders, we shall see how long that lasts. she is thirsty. I didnt think so but her actions with eddie murphy and deion show this.

    Babyface is still making MILLLIONS as he wrote the songs for toni braxton, whitney houston, TLC, Madonna, Jon B, Eric Clapton, Mary J Blige, Carole King,ariana grande ashanti, Jessica Mauboy, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Faith Evans, Al Green, Beyoncé, Diana Ross, Sheena EastonMichael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, Pebbles, Tevin Campbell, Bobby Brown, Brandy, Tamia, Shola Ama, 3T, Sisqó, Dru Hill, Fall Out Boy, Céline Dion, Samantha Jade, Honeyz, Katharine McPhee, Mariah Carey, Vanessa L. Williams, Chanté Moore, En Vogue, Kenny G, Kristinia DeBarge, Lil Wayne, Japanese singer Ken Hirai, P!nk, Marc Nelson, Xscape and Phil Collins among others. He received three consecutive Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year in 1995–1997.

    He has has 26 #1 Rb songs and has earned 11 grammy awards amongst other awards.

  • Dakota Aden

    Georgina Chapman is as much as a disgusting jew as she is a good digger but then again that is one and the same!! Beyond VOMIT!!!

  • MEME

    I don’t know why Kimora is on that list. Russell is known to chase down models, she was a working model in Paris modeling for very well established fashion houses and a muse for Karl Lagerfeld before she got with Russell.

  • Xenophon

    You mean these people who married money were able to use their time not spent going to a job to earn wages, and the access to credit and startup capital granted by their spouse’s wealth to actually create new wealth on their own? It almost sounds difficult.

  • KISS, keepitsimple

    Kerry and Georgina look like angels.

  • Isis Marceline

    How is Rachel Roy a golddigger if she was interning at RocaWear? She obviously has an interest in fashion and was willing to work AS AN INTERN to acheive success. Is it her fault that Dame Dash liked her?

    How is Kimora a golddigger? I think I stated above.

  • rene

    Kimora is not a Gold digger .According to her Biography she broke up wit Russel and He tracked her down and proposed to her. There is a difference in being a stacker gold digger and a classy woman who won't settle,

  • Brodie

    Are they gold diggers or are their former husbands tricks and got what they wanted anyway? I wish more women would invest in other things besides fashion, cosmetics, and entertainment. I guess I'll have to wait until I have the opportunity to stand at that cross roads:)

  • gina

    Very impressive ladies. Makes alot more sense for them and their off spring, they will never know the indignities poverty.

  • Kutta Mo.Fo.

    I think some of you guys are missing the point of the post. IF that’s the avenue you are going to take in an effort to acquire success and establishment, then these are the ones you should look up to and take notes from. That’s all. This is a day and time when women can beome famous simply because of WHO they’ve done as opposed to WHAT, garnering popularity and gaining lucrative opportunities that start to roll in simply because their status with some man, like prettly much all the people on this list. I wouldn’t call these women golddiggers. They’re more in the category of opportunists (a fancier term for golddigger).

  • The Voice of Reason

    Can't blame them. Its in women's nature to be golddiggers….

    Hoes will be hoes

  • Strug surviconqa

    Wait a minute kimora is black i thought she was asian

    • rene

      Her Dad is Black her mom is Asian

      • Jeff Johnson

        Yeah I saw them at the casino in St.Louis

  • Wow, these comments are very interesting. There ARE women on it who are not black. Also, this is not exactly something that only black women do. I think I made it clear that all women do it, and that I am not judging. People who are rich and powerful often do shady things. That is just life. But you all make very interesting points. I also think you can marry for money, and love, and use both to do something constructive. I think that is more worthwhile than simply being married, getting divorced, and walking off with settlement money, which many people do. I am applauding these women for being INDUSTRIOUS. A very positive term.

    • Cat

      You may call them "industrious", but you also call them "gold diggers" which is highly offensive. It seems like as black women, we can never just simply pat each other on the back. There still has to be the under handed insult to go along with it as well. I also thought this site would be one that was just positive and only that. If some of these woman on this list actually did marry for money, then shame on them! But at the end of the day, who are we to judge. They could have very well married for love and the man just happened to be rich. The bottom line is, I agree that these things happen in our society, but your line up is a little off. At least pick women who are not hard working individuals and who display the "gold digger" charactersitics a little more. And your claim that it's not a "black thing" seems to be a bit of a contridiction. Under the Kim Kardashian picture, you really go in on the fact that she has gotten where she is by dating black men. I just really feel confused by this post all together and feel it could have been much more tasteful!

  • This has to be the most IGNORANT post I have ever read! I was under the assumption that madam noir was a respectful blog that empowered black women. The bottom line is, marrying with the hopes of later divorcing and getting a divorce settlement is not only wrong, but it lowers a woman’s stock severly, because doing so is prostitution. As a black man, I can honestly say that this is why the black family is suffering. We blame outside factors and the Devil (you know we love our religion), but the reality is, we are ruining ourselves.

    Madam noir, if you you want to remain a respectable blog, don’t compromise the integrity of your blog by posting bullsh!t because you have nothing else to say. Silence is golden.

    • Anna

      Tory Burch is white though….

    • L-Boogie

      @Allblueeverything, your response is valid and to the point. Thank you.

  • anj

    kimora was a high fashion model making plenty of money and buying her mother a house when she was still in high school….wouldn't lable her a gold digger

    • Agree

      Agree!! I don't understand why they keep saying that! She had her money and if antything he was the one that needed an arm candy! He was like half her age and she was already a runway model for like four years by the time he met her!

      • Isis Marceline

        Yes thank you! IT WAS HER who got HIM into Fashion! He probably would know NOTHING about it if not for her! Sheesh!!!

        • lilkunta

          @ Isis no he had phat pharm. what kimora did was make the women’s line.

      • lilkunta

        anj :designers said she has a very bad attitude. karl lagerfeld says very bad things
        about her. kimora was making $ but her model career was ending.she was modelling since 1989 for karl lagerfeld. But he stopped liking her . He says this about Kimora : “It’s a wonderful thing I’ve created with you,” Lagerfeld told Kimora, “but now you’re a $5,000-tote-bag-wearing monster, and for that, I am sorry.

        In november 1992 she met russell in and they didnt marry until dec 98.

    • Isis Marceline

      Thank you!! She has been modeling sine 13 and Russell basically picked her off the runway floor.

    • lilkunta

      she was making $ but her model career was ending. designers said she has a very bad attitude.

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  • Babymama drama

    I went through all of this to see if Antoina Wright was on here, and of course no. She made her fame off of being lil wayne ex-wife/babymama. I mean come on!!

    • ummm

      Oh Please!!, they were like young when they got married and no longer together by the time she got famous. And so what if she used his name to make money…Jealous? you sound like it!

    • crazy

      when she got with little wayne they were like 14 or younger. She was 14 when she had her daughter. He didnt even have a career yet. she truley loved him, but when he became famous, more women (that wanted the fame and fortune came on the scene) thus they divorced. She got a reality show because she wanted to set the record straight and get out of the "baby mama" shadow….

      • Babymama drama

        Ok, I can agree with that, but how many times do we have to tear down the community to make it big, How many people before her mother/father was on drugs and still came out on top? There is no excuse for this, she is famous from being Lil Wayne babymama/ex-wife. It is what it is. That reality show still did not do her any better.

  • trinij333

    Hire me as an editor! Geez! "HEAR" when it should be "HERE"