I worked as a PA some years ago at the Daytime Emmy awards. I diddn't have to do much just point out to the presenters where their "marks" were which basically meant I got to watch the whole show from the wings of the stage. Oprah was scheduled to present Barbara Walters with a lifetime achievement Emmy. I was so excited!!! I was going to be in the same building... with Oprah! A very tall and muscular African American man approached me. He was security .
He checked out my credentials looked me over and gave me a nod. He crossed stage left behind the curtian whispering into his mic. A few seconds later I heard a swish. I turned around and there she was!! Just feet from me wearing a stunning red dress off the shoulder showcasing her trim hourglass figure. I think there was a fishtail curve or do they call it hourglass dress... I don't know it was stunning.
Dick Clark came over to her and whispered something in her ear. I had a big smile on my face and just stared. She nodded to Dick Clark and looked me in the eye, and smiled.
I remember catching Oprah on a local program in Baltimore when I was in High School. Here was this Black woman with a big smile on TV with this personality. I instantly connected with her for many reasons. Like, I did not see many images of African American women on TV, her personality was big, she was brilliant, and she just shined!!
In High School, TV was my connection to the rest of the world. I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness and there were restrictions. In the 80's there were no rules against watching Soap Operas or Daily TV so for me... TV was my link to what was going on out there.
Wow what a link it was. The Oprah show in the 1980's was a trip. Oprah was in the audience just like Phil Donahue, and Sally Jesse Raphael yet she was different. She was emotional. She cried with her guests, laughed with them and called them out on their BS. Oprah was open she shared her life with the audience in full open honesty. She was the big sister, best friend and mentor who you see every day for an hour.
When she struggled with her weight, we connected to her. She shared about being sexually abused and a nation of women were able to open up and begin to heal the wounds of abuse.
What I love most about Oprah is her unstoppable courage. It seems like every challenge or failure that comes up in her life or carrer, she's able to see it as a lesson!
Oprah was one of the first folks in the media to talk about the chemicals in meat and the conditions on the feedlots openly and honestly and was sued by some of the most powerful men in this coungry. What did she do? She hired the best lawyers and consultants, took her show down to Texas and kicked some ASS!!! Then, she put Dr. Phil on her show with his down to earth advice and created another spectacular show which then led to Dr Oz, Suzie Ormand and many more.
Oprah has faced racsim from white folks saying her ego is out of control, and from black folks who say she's like an "Uncle Tom" and wonder why there are so many white people in her audience... stilll Oprah shines.
God her show was a trip! Folks jumping up and grabbing the mike passionately discussing affairs, drama all the stuff of life in middle america.
The rest of the media saw her popularity and jumped on board, Ricki Lake and the raunchy Morton Downey Jr and Jerry Springer called to different audiences.
Oprah saw an opportunity to grow. She changed the format of her show invited folks like Iyanla Vanzant, Eckart Tolle and encouraged folks to "live their best lives'. The whole series with Eckart Tolle had live hour long online classes that spoke about metaphysics, living in the moment and how one person can effect the world. I took that course and it changed the course of my life. Helped to inspire me to not give up on myself, inspired me to shine.
Oprah looked at me and smiled. Then she walked to her mark, waved to her friend Gail who was on the other side of the stage and took a moment. It's the moment of preparation that a preformer takes just before they are on. It's that one breath. She placed her hands on her belly and took that breath. Then she walked in that red dress head held high into the light welcomed by a sea of applause.
Her speech was perfect. Barbara accepted. Afterwards Dick Clark, Barbara, Oprah, Gail, Steadman... and a bunch of other folks flocked around Barbara. But out of the bunch, Oprah just shined like a diamond. Here's this one time black girl from the South...shining, evolving, growing, sharing, inspiring.