“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have.” Oprah receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award
The current joke about Oprah running for President is that it would be a demotion: as she is currently Queen of the World. Oprah has done a lot, read a lot, gotten Americans to read a lot, said a lot, and given away a lot, yet she continues to re-invent herself.
Since finishing her talk show’s 25 year run, she has focused on her network that she started the same year as she finished her talk show, starred in four movies, joined Sixty Minutes, and received the Cecil B Demille Award.
All this while being a billionaire twice over who doesn’t have to do anything for the rest of her life, or lives if she figured out how to live ten more lifetimes.
I have always pointed to Oprah as an example. In a different kind of way. What I say about her is that she will never discover a cure for cancer. Meaning science or medical expertise are not her gifts. She could however fund a cure for cancer. Raising money and awareness are her gifts.
As a talk show host there is really one thing she did well. Ronald Reagan did it well also. He parlayed it to become president. She parlayed her gift to become a billionaire. Her gift is to connect to people.
Voters thought they wanted to go to lunch with Reagan. Of course, there is no evidence that any voter did go to lunch with him, but the everyman thought he would want to break bread with the Gipper.
Oprah asked the questions we would ask, looked with wonder at the stars we would gaze at, and never lost her everyman’s perspective. In a profession often based on looks, Oprah wasn’t the thinnest, the prettiest, or the most talented.
She was the first or one of the first to own her own TV show. That alone catapulted her from rich to really really rich. The thing about being rich to Oprah was her ability to make a bigger footprint like with her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in S. Africa.
It didn’t stop with being watched and adored by millions every afternoon. Quincy Jones told Steven Spielberg to cast her in The Color Purple and that was thirty three years ago. She has lent her voice to an animated movie, kept her film company thriving, figured out how to save her network collaborating with Tyler Perry and original content like Queen Sugar, and endowed her foundations with 240 million dollars, although she is still not in the top 20 givers in the world.
“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have.” When her network, OWN, struggled, she had to re-examine her truth. She had to look at negative content differently and learn how to connect to a new audience. She continues to re-invent herself. Why should we be any different?