When asked who she was most excited to interview in her career, she told a great story about meeting Paul McCartney for the first time at age 39 or 40. This was huge for her because since she was young she'd been in love with him and had visualised them marrying with daily prayers; "think about Paul, think about Paul, Paul think about me, I'm trying to reach Paul". When she finally got to interview him, she was so nervous because she had this dream that she was going to marry him. She liked to be spontaneous and never used to prepare her questions for interviews, so when they sat down she asked him "when I was a kid I was just thinking about you all the time, did you ever feel me thinking about you?".
Later, after posing for a photograph with Bronagh Key (the Prime Minister's wife) we all realised we weren't going to get a chance to do awkward hand gestures in an Oprah selfie, so we went to our seats for the show. Vector Arena was packed, the warmup DJ was playing all the hits including Patea Maori Club's "Poi E" and OMC's "How Bizarre" and the crowd was pumped. Oprah entered the room and thousands of people (predominantly women) rose to their feet, clapped, cried and shouted words of adoration at their hero, here in New Zealand for the first time.
For over 2 and a half hours, Oprah spoke about her life, including the years of sexual abuse she experienced as a child and her teen pregnancy. She talked about being raised by her grandmother for the first 6 years of her life and the white family that her grandmother worked for. Her grandmother would frequently tell her, "all I hope for you, is that you get kind white people to work for, like I have".
She reflected on the key moments when she made decisions based on intuition and her "inner voice". Referencing God frequently, she may have freaked out the non-religious in the room. I myself am non-religious, however I do feel that there is more to this world than that which we can see, and I am a firm believer than you can achieve that which you truly believe, so her words resonated with me.
Oprah spent time with Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua and was impressed by Maori spirituality and our connection to the land. There was so much more that I wished I could have shared with her about New Zealand, including the recent statistics released about how 29% of kiwi children are living in poverty. I wondered what she would have said knowing this, what words she would have shared with our leaders, and with our Prime Minister's wife when they spoke. What would she have said to a young person stuck in a cycle of poverty? When asked earlier at the cocktail function what she would have told her 15 year old self (who was at the time in a very bleak situation), she said "you will get through this".
The show itself was very much based around personal empowerment; being authentic, listening to your inner voice, and allowing failure to be your teacher. All of the principles that she spoke about are ones which I have read about previously at length. After a career and relationship meltdown 3 years ago, I read self help books, started keeping a gratitude journal, writing regular affirmations and tuning into (and sometimes using) my intuition. My life at that time improved considerably and most of the affirmations I was writing started to manifest in my day to day life. In many cases, it wasn't until months later that I realised that I had in fact, achieved my goals.
Even in the grandiose context of a live stage show presented by this woman with a giant personality, an army of PR behind her and millions of fans; she reminded me of some key principles which have helped me, but taught me more through relating these to her own stories of success and failure. The one thing she said which really stayed with me, and which was the first thought I had upon waking the morning after the show was this; "you can be a much better you than you can be a pretend anybody else".
Kia ora Oprah.