Avant’s conversation is refreshingly free of pretense, and if she namedrops, it’s not in an eye-roll-inducing way. She speaks sweetly about time spent with the world’s biggest celebrity, addressing him with an adoring “Michael” and not “the King of Pop.” Her current influence is powered by her sharp intellect, disarming charm, and robust relationships. As ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011, she championed business development (buddy Magic Johnson flew to the island for a day-long seminar) and efforts to relieve childhood autism (friend Rodney Peete, who has an autistic son with wife Holly Robinson, spoke to men in the country about embracing boys with the condition).
Avant grew up in an orbit of access that she now channels for the good of others. As ambassador, her ways weren’t always understood. “I had a great team, and we worked well together. But I believed the job of an ambassador was to get from behind a desk. I am not a bureaucrat,” she says firmly. “Also, some thought I was just bringing [my] Hollywood friends around. My friends just happen to be celebrities and actually do great things for other people.”