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I often wonder how far some people will to go to get what they want and what rules they’ll follow or break along the way.

Just this past week, I was on reading about that aspiring actress, Racquel Bailey, who rented the billboard near Tyler Perry’s studio in the ATL, basically asking him to let her be “his next leading lady.”

While innovative and bold, some might call this sister’s measures extreme, especially since she spent $1,500 on the ad, which, according to her, pretty much cleared out her bank account.

And although Perry has not yet responded, and may never respond, Bailey was doing what she thought she had to do to ensure her success. Bold move, indeed. And, I wish her much success.

You see, Bailey’s tactics didn’t hurt anyone and they pale in comparison to some other –how should we say– more unscrupulous ways aspiring actresses may choose to land leading roles. And I’m certainly not mad at her.

But what happens when this success-at-all-costs approach takes on a more ominous tone and does hurt people? Look no farther than the current trial of former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, the man many feel could have been president if not for this scandal that derailed his campaign.

I know it feels like a lifetime ago but, if you recall, there actually was a time where even the black community wasn’t that familiar with a longshot presidential candidate named Barack Obama, and when Edwards was a political star thought to be destined for the Oval Office.

Well, President Obama made history and Edwards is on trial, charged with receiving $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to hide his pregnant mistress from the public so he could continue his presidential bid.

What a difference a campaign makes. Edwards has admitted to the affair and fathering a child while his wife was dying from cancer, but he maintains he did not break the law.

Even so, we do know Edwards covered up and lied about the affair and pregnancy, and even had one of his key staffers claim he fathered the child to avoid scandal and continue his campaign.

Whether or not Edwards committed a crime will be up to a jury to decide as the former political star faces up to 30 years in prison. But whatever his fate, he was certainly willing to go pretty far to get what he wanted: the presidency.

However, unlike an aspiring actress plastering her picture across a billboard to secure a role, Edwards’ actions affected real people – his family, his supporters and the countless poor and unemployed across the nation whose cause he vowed to champion and represent.

And in the end, Edwards’ desire for success, apparently at just about any cost, may well cost him his freedom, his future and his very soul.

For it’s one thing to spend your last dime legally to gain success by putting yourself out in the open for the whole world and Tyler Perry to see when you believe in yourself, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to spend your riches illegally to gain success by hiding the truth from the whole world and from those who believe in you.

I’ll close with a quote that comes, ironically, from the late and controversial college football coach, Joe Paterno. He said:

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish… it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”

Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.

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