Who is Manuela Testolini?
Manuela Testolini is a Canadian charity worker who is better recognized as the former wife of late American singer-songwriter, Prince, and the current wife of American singer-songwriter and actor Eric Benét. She has worked with a number of charities including Love4One Another, Free Arts Minnesota, and the Young Women’s Empowerment Network. She later went on to establish the non-profit organization named 'In A Perfect World' and presently serves as its president. The organization provides education and support to at-risk youths in places around the world including Mali, Malawi, Senegal, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Nepal. For its services, the foundation has received 'Award of Service from United Communities Against Poverty', the 'GuideStar Platinum Seal Award', and the 'Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Fearless Leader Award'. Both she and her husband have traveled around the world to build schools for the organization.
Rise to Stardom
Starting her career in law, Manuela Testolini soon became "disenchanted with the legal system and took some time off to volunteer in a homeless shelter", which made her interested in charity work. She was involved with several non-profit organizations including Free Arts Minnesota, the Young Women’s Empowerment Network and Love4One Another, the last of which was owned by her future husband Prince. She made news headlines following her marriage to Prince and their subsequent divorce. Later on, her second marriage to Eric Benét also reignited curiosity about her relationships. She once mentioned that while she never enjoyed the attention she got as Prince's wife, it did help her with her business and charity work.
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Family & Personal Life
Manuela Testolini was born on September 19, 1976 in Toronto, Canada. Her mother was Egyptian and her father was Italian. She regularly visited Egypt during the summers while growing up. She began dancing at an early age and often performed in front of family members. She attended York University in Toronto and graduated with a degree in law and sociology.
Manuela Testolini met musician Prince when she was working as a consultant for his charity, Love4One Another. They began dating soon after and finally got married on Christmas in 2001, soon after his divorce from his first wife Mayte Garcia was finalized. At the time of their marriage, she was only 25 while he was 43. The couple moved closer to her family in Toronto, where they lived together extravagantly for a few years. However, according to later revelations, the couple had separated in 2004 due to undisclosed reasons, and she soon filed for divorce. Talking to 'People' in 2006, his personal lawyer mentioned that while he never wanted the divorce, he did not contest the petition. The couple, both of Jehovah’s Witness faith, had reportedly sought counseling from New York City-based elders of same faith. The divorce was finalized in 2007, following which Manuela, who was using his surname Nelson, started using her maiden surname again.
Manuela Testolini later began dating R&B and neo soul singer-songwriter Eric Benét in 2009, after they met at a Los Angeles Fashion Week party. Benét revealed at 'The Red Pill' podcast in August 2018 that he dated her for two whole months before he learnt that she was previously married to Prince, that too only after he had challenged her over her complicated divorce. The couple eventually got married on July 31, 2011. At the time, Benét already had a 20-year-old daughter named India from his past relationship with late girlfriend Tami Marie Stauff. On December 21, 2011, Testolini gave birth to their first daughter, Lucia Bella Benét. The couple welcomed their second daughter, Amoura Lynn Benét in July 2014. Her two daughters are already Junior Ambassadors for her charitable organization.
Controversies & Scandals
Following their divorce, sources close to Manuela Testolini and Prince had stated that the divorce was amicable and the two remained on good terms till his death from a painkiller overdose in 2016. While the divorce papers were originally sealed from public view, following Prince's sudden death, the 'Star Tribune' moved to court to unseal the files in the hope that they may reveal details about his heirs and why he had to take painkillers. Testolini had subsequently made an unsuccessful attempt to keep the divorce documents sealed. After the papers were made public, it was revealed that the couple lived luxuriously during happier times and often threw big parties after major awards shows like the 'Golden Globes', 'Oscars' and 'Grammys'. During such events, Testolini would hire personal stylist for $5,000-a-day and they also spent $50,000 to arrange each party. On the papers she also mentioned that they "had accounts at boutiques including Gucci, Versace and Valentino". Two years after their divorce was finalized, she had claimed that Prince did not return several of her personal items, including childhood photos, videos and jewelry.