My Brief Moment with Oprah Winfrey

by Saturday, October 15, 2011
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(I apologize for my departure from my regular social media post.  This deserves a special blog all on its own.)

Mark that item off my bucket list.  And it’s a HUGE one.  On Saturday, I got to meet one of my heroes: Oprah Winfrey.

During college, I remember watching The Oprah Winfrey Show at my boyfriend’s (now my husband’s) apartment in the afternoons.  I have vivid memories of that day in 1988 when she came onstage in her famous size 8 jeans, her black turtleneck, lugging a wagon full of 67 pounds of fat.  Over the years, I’ve always admired her and loved her message and honesty, even when I couldn’t watch her regularly.

In May 2011, I watched her final episodes with tears in my eyes.  I truly felt like I was losing a friend.  The glory of Oprah is that in addition to being a real person that many of us feel could be our best friend, she also has done extraordinary things for humanity (a fact which was highlighted during her final shows).  She has oodles of money and uses it for good.  I love that.

“I’ve Got a Golden Ticket!”

Fast forward to earlier this week.  My husband Adam, who works for Cox Communications, announced that this Saturday, Oprah would be in Atlanta for her O You (or Oprah University), a daylong celebration of O magazine.  AND… he was going to meet her in the VIP room (since he had run the social media promotion for this program).  I was so excited for Adam, but he didn’t seem thrilled… he was disappointed that he couldn’t get ME a ticket too.  How sweet!  He said he’d keep trying, but I didn’t have high hopes.

Friday afternoon, Adam called to tell me that he’d found the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s proverbial golden ticket.  The girlfriend of a colleague had bowed out, and he’d offered it to me.  HALLELUJAH!  I happily told my friends on Facebook the news and asked them, “What I should I say to Oprah?”  I desperately wanted to avoid sounding sappy or trite (of which I’m sure she’s heard plenty over the years).

What d'ya got there, Charlie Bucket?

Ironically, my brother (who proclaims that he has never watched even one minute in 25 years of the Oprah Show) gave me the best question to ask.  I had a great outfit, hairstyle and question. I was all set to meet Oprah!

Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves taking a brisk 25 minute walk from the Five Points train station (during which time I managed to totally mess up my carefully coiffed hair and give myself a blister).  We arrived at the Georgia World Congress Center and were escorted to the VIP room at 1:45. I was shocked… I had envisioned there’d be 50-100 people there, in which time we would have a line of people who could spend less than 1 minute meeting Oprah.


Instead, there were 12 of us.  I was told she would be spending half an hour with us.  OMG.  Some of my husband’s colleagues admitted they were nervous.  We discussed: if you could meet anybody (besides Oprah), who would it be?  My immediate answer was J.K. Rowling.  Others mentioned sports heroes, politicians, movie stars.  We had to do SOMETHING to pass the time because Miss Winfrey was running a bit behind.

At 2:10, Oprah’s personal photographer arrived, George Burns.  What a sweet guy!!  He’s so humble, and told us what a great boss she is.  He’s worked with her since the 1990s, and said in 15 years he had never missed one single episode of the Oprah Show.  Impressive record!


The Necklace That Oprah Liked

Purple, Purple Everywhere

Finally at 2:25, the door opened and in walked Oprah wearing no shoes and (my heart be still) a purple dress… the same color as the purple in the Project Social logo!  I grabbed my husband’s arm and gasped, “She’s wearing purple!”  Like a pro, Oprah worked the room and graciously introduced herself to each of us.  She was warm, friendly and down-to-earth.  When she got to me, I told her “I am a long time fan.”  So much for not being trite.  She said “Thank you” and then looked at my purple necklace, reached up and patted it and said, “Oh how cute!”  SCORE 1 for me… Oprah likes my jewelry!!!!!

Next she generously posed for photos… individual and group.  (But she put on her Louis Vuitton shoes first!)  I got several photos alone with her, during which time I said, “Oprah, I love it… you’re a PURPLE gal!”  She said, “People think purple is my favorite color, but it’s really not.”  All I can say is that she looked dynamite in that purple dress.


Say “YAY!”

I actually learned something from Oprah today: when taking pictures, don’t just smile.  Say “YAY!”  She commented that in those shots, you would look much happier and more alive.

The Shoes that Oprah Loved

After the photos ended, she walked towards me and said, “Oh wow, I just LOOOOOOOOOOOVE your shoes!”  SCORE 2 for me… Oprah likes my shoes!  I was sort of shocked, as I’d had them for 3-4 years (and right now, they were giving me a blister!).  Oprah asked, “What brand are they?”  I couldn’t remember, so I leaned down and took off the shoe.  (Fortunately, it didn’t smell bad.)  I reached out to show her the label inside the shoe and she took the shoe from me… THAT’S RIGHT!!!  OPRAH WINFREY WAS HOLDING MY OLD SHOE!  She called across the room to her assistant and said, “Hey look at this, I need a pair of shoes like this. Liz Claiborne!  They look great with pants and they have just the right heel on them.”  I said, “And they’re comfortable!”  (Well, usually… but not when I’ve had to practically sprint in them for 25 minutes through downtown Atlanta!)



Oprah stayed with our group for a few more minutes, during which time she talked about the social media campaign that Cox had run for her.  I was thrilled to hear my husband’s wonderful boss give Adam credit for the campaign.  Not all bosses are so generous with the credit and praise.

And then she was gone.  I never did get to ask Oprah my question.  Doesn’t matter, because knowing her from 25 years on the TV, I can probably tell you how she’d answer it anyway.

The Swag Bag from O You

Contents of the Swag Bag from O You

14 Responses
  • Elaine
    October 15, 2011

    That is amazing.  I thinked Oprah helped me so much when I was at home for 6 months laying in bed watching every single episode.  Did you tell her Joanna was your cousin?

    • ProjectSocial
      October 16, 2011

      I didn’t even get to ask her MY question, let alone talk about family or friends!

  • Kim Toatley
    October 16, 2011

    How fabulous, Karen! I’m so happy for you. 🙂

    • ProjectSocial
      October 16, 2011

      Thank you Kim, I genuinely appreciate your good wishes!

  • Beth
    October 16, 2011

    Awesome, Karen! Thanks for sharing! My question for you is: are you going to bronze that shoe? 🙂

    • ProjectSocial
      October 16, 2011

      Bronzing sounds like an awesome idea!  I will never get rid of that pair, that’s for sure!

      What’s really ironic is that as I was getting dressed to go down there, I asked Adam, “What shoes should I wear?” as I stared at 10 pairs of black shoes, none of which seemed appropriate for the occasion.  “Oh, just wear any old pair.  Who cares?” he said.  It seems serendipitous that Oprah liked them so much!

  • Carrie
    October 16, 2011

    That is so totally awesome!!!  Good for you!

    • ProjectSocial
      October 16, 2011

      Thank you Carrie, it really was such an awesome day!

  • Jamie Turner
    October 18, 2011

    Awesome story, Karen. This is terrific!

    • ProjectSocial
      October 19, 2011

      Thanks so much, Jamie.  It was such a fun and exciting day.  And none of it would have happened if Adam didn’t work for Cox!

  • Jacki James
    October 26, 2011

    Say “Yay” in photo’s hey…. I’ll test that one out myself. Great story Karen 🙂

    • ProjectSocial
      October 27, 2011

      “Yay”… it actually does work.  Not only did she tell us that trick, but she demonstrated it too.  Of course, I completely forgot that when I went to a party this weekend and the photographer took pictures.  Oh well!

  • Keri at Idea Girl Media
    January 29, 2012


    What an exciting day!  So cool to have met Oprah — Love that she wore purple (I’m a purple girl too).

    Thanks for sharing…


    • ProjectSocial
      January 30, 2012

      It really was an awesome day.  I was just talking to my Sunday School students yesterday, and somehow (I have no idea how) the subject of famous people that I knew came up.  I mentioned Oprah and my teenage daughter (who is my assistant) snapped back at me, “You don’t KNOW Oprah, you just met her once.”  Teenagers!!!!

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