My Celebrity Encounter with Oprah Winfrey: Behind the Scenes Before the Debut of OWN, Oprah Reveals Her Birthday Gift from Jamie Foxx
Written by: Kay Montgomery – April 19th, 2020 6:06pm pst
MY CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER with OPRAH WINFREY
Most of us have had at least one celebrity encounter in the span of our lifetimes. The AfterBuzz TV My Celebrity Encounter Series shares personal reminiscences of encounters with favorite celebrities and influencers. From the time we sat on a plane next to Tiffany Haddish to the time we stood in line at Starbucks behind John Krasinsky, these are the honest and true celebrity encounters our AfterBuzz TV writers have experienced and now share with you.
I got tickets to the Oprah Winfrey Show. It was her final year, so I was ecstatic. It was Oprah’s birthday and she recorded two shows that day and we were the later show. We stood in line and learned from the audience before that they had gotten cake and free hotel stays in honor of her day. It was a real celebration! At this news the entire audience was vibrating. We were seated on the very front row on the left side. I could scarcely believe it. I could reach out and touch her seat practically.
The fandom is high. It’s akin to Disneyland, without the screaming kids. All grown, mostly women in awe and sharing memories of favorite shows and stories of how far they traveled. Production people are setting up the stage when I realize there is only one chair. No couch for guests. Then an audience coordinator comes out and tells us that this is going to be an Oprah Show that’s a little somber, but it is the reason we love Oprah, she insists. She promises us that it’ll be Informative and hard hitting journalism that changes our lives. I brace myself. We can’t all get a car. We’re here for HER anyway. Then she announces this show is about child molesters. How they “groom” children and how you can spot their actions before they harm your child. I’m a mom of two, so I’m all in.
I die and am reborn in that embrace. She noticed me?! She thanks us for the applause, sits and so do we. I look at my bff sitting next to me and we are grinning, wide eyed, trying not to freak out. I am ‘y’all, she is right there’. But, we gotta stay composed.
She tells us all about her birthday. How Jamie Foxx sent her a bust of Sojourner Truth and how she has a new puppy. Because my Oprah knowledge is extensive. I knew every story before she told it. When she told of her new puppy and showed us the picture, I remarked on how it was a “speckled pup”. I remarked about how, just as Tish Hooker said, she was cuter than a speckled pup when she was 8 yrs old and had come to visit her church when her husband was campaigning for governor.
She sighed wistfully. She hadn’t realized that, she said. Then she went on to tell us the significance of that story, which I knew. To be a young smart black girl, good at speaking but neglected. Never called cute or pretty by anyone. To be called prettier than a speckled pup by one of the most beautiful women she had ever seen left such an impression that it changed the way she saw herself.
Every time she tells an anecdote, I know the details, the background and just say it out loud. Like a nerdy kid trying to get an A, proving I had read ahead. After bantering with the audience we go into the show about child molesters. It was a great show to be sure.
The show’s over. We are all clapping and giving her a standing ovation. She’s standing to leave and since we are so close and she’s well within earshot, when she turns to my direction I ask. “I know you’re busy and there’s a lot of people, but can I get a picture?”
She doesn’t acknowledge me, does not answer. She steps forward, puts her arm around me and begins to walk. We are walking-together! Down the aisle… She spots someone and begins to talk to the audience about someone seated near us. “Oh there’s such-and-such it’s so nice to see you. Do y’all remember her? She was on the show last year…” Her arm is still around me. We are walking together now.
Then we turn to walk out of the studio and I am babbling. “I love you. I’ve been watching since I was in 4th grade. What will we do without you, now that the show is ending?” I’m exasperated. My mind is reeling. She tells me not to worry.The OWN Network is coming. It’s going to be like the show only better, because it’ll be 24 hours a day. But what about fistulas. Who will tell us about things like that. People that need our help that no one knows about, the one she rallied, us viewers to raise $3 million dollars for.
She tells me the network will cover things like that too. She reassures me. This flailing, weeping barely comprehensible person. Asking her to give us more, even when she had already given so much of herself, so much of her life.
Now we’re backstage, here’s George, her longtime photographer. I’m thanking her for the show. He’s trying to get a decent picture. He finally has to interrupt. Gingerly, telling me to stop talking so he can get a shot. He gets the shot, my moment with Oprah is over. This woman who has shaped me as a wife and a mother. Who told me how important education was when no one in my family had been to college. Who I believed, so I went and became the first graduate in my family. Who told me how valuable my voice was as a black woman in this society, so I spoke.
I hug her for the final time and I, exhausted, filling every word with emphasis, love, meaning, say simply, “Thank You.” She nods, she does an about face, heads out-
Before she disappears into the production booth she pauses for a second,
She turns around, clasps my hands in hers, looks into my eyes, and she says,
“No Kay, Thank you.”
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Kay Montgomery is a host at Afterbuzz TV who loves sitcoms and is currently embroiled in a vicious debate on Bracketology. She is A Different World devotee and although she has a masters degree in Education from The University of Redlands, she would have given anything to go to fictional Hillman College.
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