One of my favorite quotes ever is from one of my favorite books ever, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
If that ain’t the doggone truth! That’s at the core of my work, and the magic that has been happening in my life lately, and the fact that my first book is dropping in 5 months.
Like millions of people everywhere, I consider Oprah Winfrey to be one of my heroes. It’s the exception to feel otherwise, especially when you’re a Black woman. As a self-made media mogul, a master communicator and one who insisted on doing it on her own terms, Oprah is pretty much the holy grail of making it. She’s a multi-passionate, multi-hyphenate bawse, and I aspire to be all of those things. That is what I’ve been working towards for the last thirteen years, even when I didn’t realize it.
But what makes me admire her the most is her commitment to use her elevation for the greater good of others. It is that heart of hers and her love of using her platform for a higher purpose that makes me adore her.
She’s spent the last 4 decades showing how being exactly who you are can propel you to greatness, and that vulnerability is a superpower that can save lives.
For me, Oprah has been the blueprint of what dreams realized could look like, and meeting her has been a goal of mine for a long time. Oddly enough, her and I have been in the same room many times over the years, but we had never met. Our orbits circled each other, but there was never a time when I shook her hand and formally introduced myself.
There was the time when 5 or 6 of us from my 5th grade class were chosen to go to Harpo Studios, for an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was 1995, I had just moved to the United States with my family a few months before and I was one of the chosen ones to go represent my school on TV. My Mom fussed over my hair, I picked my outfit and I was so excited. When we got to Harpo Studios, 2 of us were told that we wouldn’t be appearing on the show afterall. We had to sit in the green room as our classmates sat next to Oprah in the studio. Crushed did not begin to describe how I felt. There’s disappointment and there’s 10 levels below it. That was me but I tried to keep it together.
After the show taping wrapped, I did get a chance to enter the studio. I was standing about 10 feet from Oprah at one point, in awe. I didn’t dare try to meet her, though. I was too scared so I just stared.
She was so close yet so far for so long. She considered Chicago to be home for decades, and you know I’m a proud Chi-town girl. Harpo Studios was less than a mile from my high school (shoutout to Whitney Young!) in the West Loop.
Twice in college, I scored tickets to tapings of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and one of them was for her 20th anniversary show. They had me sit in row 3 in the seat closest to the aisle. At one point, Oprah walked by me and said “nice jeans.” That was when whisker wash jeans were in. I bouta died. I remember how one of the commercial breaks, she told one of her staff members to come get these heels off her feet. I was like “oooo AND she’s real. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.” We walked away with the 20th anniversary DVD of her show. Because: gifts.
And in the last 6 years, her and I have been in the same room at least 5 times, at ESSENCE’s annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. It is one event where everyone can walk up to her and snap selfies, because all the famous folks there are really accessible. This is the same event where I’ve met and taken pics with Ava DuVernay, Brandy, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o. This is the same event where Shonda Rhimes has shared a table with Oprah, and we’ve become baes. I have never attempted to meet Oprah at BWIH, even as I’ve stood feet away from her. Something in my spirit told me it wasn’t time.
Something told me to wait, because instead of bum-rushing her at an event where countless people do just that, I wanted to meet her in a space where she’s already heard my name. I wanted our first meeting to be one that wouldn’t be so forgettable.
So I waited for the right time.
That time came this weekend, and it was under those very conditions. I know she’s heard my name spoken to her. And it was in a space where I wasn’t just one of hundreds of faces.
I walked up to an orange-clad, ponytailed, smiling Oprah and shook her hand. I said something like: “Hi, I’m Luvvie. It’s incredible to meet you. I am so honored.” She gave me a hug and it was everything and I coulda just melted on the spot but I didn’t. I told her “My book I’M JUDGING YOU is coming in September and I’d love to send you a copy.” She nodded and squeezed my hand. She said something to the affirmative and I can’t remember what it was. I was totally being JD from Scrubs and having a party in my own head. BECAUSE I WAS MEETING OPRAH. Anywho, we took our picture together and I walked away.
Then my knees buckled as I looked at my phone and back at her and squealed to the people who were next to me. Those people I was squealing to? Gina Rodriguez and Sophia Bush. They too were having their moments. When legit famous people fangirl over someone, you know they’re special. People who are on TV regularly, who have probably met all types of icons, were having the same moment I was. Because that is the power of Oprah.
So many people have asked me what she smelled like. You are all creeps. HA! I do not remember. I was too busy having a moment in my head where I was saying “OMG OMG OMG OMG” over and over again. Outwardly, I kept my cool, though. When she was leaving, after 5 hours of spending time with all of us, she walked by me and squeezed my arm. “Aight yall, I’m leaving. Thank you for your time!” I was like “omg she just touched me again.” Whew!
I can’t tell you the full circumstances around why I had this opportunity to meet her right now. That is its own story. But I finally met her, and it was just as I claimed it would be.
I am constantly being shown that what we utter is what will be. This is why we must speak life into ourselves. This is why we must speak our dreams so they can float into the universe and have a chance to become real. This is why we must dare to believe that grand things can happen for us. I dared to believe. And I met my idol 2 days after my other idol, Shonda Rhimes, randomly tweeted that she can’t wait to read my book.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) April 8, 2016
It’s like the Universe called a meeting and said “Look, y’all. We need to make sure Luvvie gets what she wants.” And the atoms lined up and made things happen. And God was like “that’s right. That’s my baby so you all better make it work.” I am beyond grateful.
So here I am. Still reflecting. Still celebrating. Still thankful.
What do I want to happen next? Well, let me speak it here. I want my book to end up on the New York Times Best-seller’s list on the day it drops: September 13, 2016. I want her Oprah to love I’m Judging You so much that she picks it for her BookClub. I want my book to be critically-acclaimed so that the next Black girl who goes to write a book can have an easy time making it happen because I’ve shown that it can be done well, and it can sell. Universe, I could surely use your help on that. Please and thanks with Amen in the top.
But yes. I MET QUEEN OPRAH, YALL!!!