Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ode To Miss O: My Deep (Yet Shallow) Relationship With Oprah

Love this pic of Miss O in one of our favorite colors
So exactly seven days into the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I am compelled to write my ode to Miss O. You see,  throughout the years (and more than 3 times in the last week) people have connected us to one another.

Perhaps, it is because we are both charismatic, BOLD black women who have the confidence to champion what we believe in, albeit in vastly different arenas.

Or maybe it's because we both act courageously from a similar place of unbrandished vulnerability that only people with "our story" can pull off.

I love Oprah, but for very different reasons than the average person. Not because of her billions, her shows or her influence but for what she has meant to me almost my entire life.

Oprah is fuel in the tank of every colored girl who has dreams of changing the world.

I, too,  will change the world like you Miss Oprah Winfrey. I am leading a movement that will revolutionize relationships on this planet. And because of these three things you taught me through your life - it will come to pass.

Transformational Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes and Colors

I had just started 6th grade when she appeared on the scene in Chicago. It was awe inspiring to see her host that show with Rob Somebody (can't for the life of me remember his last name but he was pretty popular before Oprah joined him in the fall of 1983). I loved it that someone who looked like me - wide nose and big lips - right there on TV. I could go on and on about how she evolved but I can tell you this. She finally settled into who she was and she loves herself. I've achieved that, too and with much less resources I might add - inspired all the time by Miss O.

Feel Deeply and You Win

Oprah wrote the book on how to "feel" what the people around you feel. I remember the first time I saw her reach across the couch and comfort someone. Tears. Genuine heartfelt tears have flowed and I was always uncomfortable because until recently - I was never a "crying woman". I discovered in my mid 20s that I was not "feeling" what was coming my way. After my second child  (partially hormonal changes) and a host of unfortunate events - there was a break through and I was able to feel deeply. How liberating! This insight is fueling my movement to help people pro-actively care for their relationships - wouldn't have happened had I not learned to feel deeply and Miss O had a hand in validating that for me.

Stay True To You, Even as You Change

Let's face it - the whole world has watched Oprah as she's evolved from small town local TV personality to the Queen of the Airwaves. Lots of ups and plenty of downs - yet through it all she is still Oprah. Perhaps, you all can't see it but for those of  us that have been tuned in from the beginning - you hear her voice and see her actions and she is still that curious, intelligent woman who enjoys people that we collectively fell in love with in 1984. She is still as compassionate as ever. She's still enamored by celebrities. Oprah is still humble and grateful for the adoration after all these years.

Thanks Miss O for putting black women on top of the map!

I'll close with a Five Denise/Oprah Fun Facts

1. Even though we look nothing alike, I have been called Oprah in public at events more than 5 times.

2. I own a Jil Sander shirt from "Oprah's Closet" from her O Store in the early days when they let you try items on before your bought them - not sure if she actually wore it but I pretend she did every time I put it on.

3. "Our story"  like many people we have shared our painful experiences and used them for good.

4. A cousin of mine has a son with someone who works for Harpo and it has NEVER helped me get tickets.

5. I've been to more show tapings than I can remember and plan to get to one this year as well! My favorite was a Ricky Martin taping in 2007. I shook my bon-bon something fierce.

Two questions - who is your Miss O?

What is your favorite Oprah memory?

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