The year was 2014. The city was Miami. The location was a private residence of a well-to-do clothing designer. The occasion was to celebrate 2 special birthdays; one of which was DJ Princess Cut’s who was spinning for Oprah’s Life You Want Tour and I was (and still am) her manager. That’s how I fit into the equation. It was the 6th stop on the 8-city tour. I flew in from New York, which is where I was living at the time. I remember it was raining because my blowout was ruined by the time I reached our hotel on South Beach and I was super annoyed because I didn’t want to meet Queen O with frizzy hair.
We had a couple of hours to get dressed for the festivities so don’t ask me how I, Cut and our friend Ashley were all fashionably late to the par-tay. Like, in hindsight, how thee helllll do you roll into an über exclusive event that you know Oprah will be at tardy? Maybe it’s an ATL thing or a creative thing but we tried it – we did it. Thankfully as I’ve heard for many years growing up, God looks out for babies and fools. We, of course, were the latter. Long story short, God did us a solid. We walked in just as Oprah and her BFF Gayle King were leaving and we each got the opportunity to meet and snap a pic with Ms. Winfrey, even after we were warned via an explicit email that no cameras or pictures were allowed. I digress.
Like many of you who were galvanized by her soul shaking words at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, I couldn’t help but think of how blessed I was to have been in her presence weekend after weekend for a little over 3 months. It’s simply impossible to be exposed to that much spiritual power, fire and intellect and walk away unscathed. I was eternally affected in the most sacred way to say the least and to echo a fragment of her speech, “This is what I know for sure” about Oprah. Oprah is the real deal. And this is how I know for sure. Coach John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching”. I recently told this story to a group of my girlfriends I was having lunch with that I knew Oprah was the real deal when I witnessed countless acts of kindness her team performed after the curtains were drawn, as well as during times when the crowds had dispersed and the stage was being broken down. I saw wheelchair bound attendees being escorted backstage during the outdoor festivities to meet some of the speakers like Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, Mark Nepo and Elizabeth Gilbert. I saw the look on one of the producer’s faces when she heard a woman’s testimony about fighting cancer and afterwards went over to comfort her and give her a special gift she’d pulled from one of the tents that housed our fan prizes.
Matthew 7:116 says, “You will know them by their fruits”. Your team is a reflection of you. Your man, your woman, your children are reflections of you. Your friends, business partners; they’re a mirror of you. I recall the story of a man who climbed on top of a car at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the second stop on the tour, to help direct traffic. That man was the Co-President of HARPO, Erik Logan. Being in the music business, I’ve seen managers who refused to pass out CDs of the artists they represented, presumably because they felt the task was beneath them as a leader. But, in order to lead, one must be willing to serve first and foremost. I think that clearly defines Oprah’s career, one of continued service and dedication to the people; her platform as a leader has been exalted because she has served first. Something to marinate on as we settle into 2018 to live our best lives yet!