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  • [MUSIC]

  • [NOISE] Thank you.

  • Whoo.

  • Love it.

  • Love, love love.

  • Tweet, tweet.

  • [SOUND] Whoo!

  • [SOUND] You.

  • [INAUDIBLE] So happy to be in the bubble.

  • Whoo.

  • [LAUGH] Love it.

  • Aren't you all the luckiest people in the world?

  • Oh my God, I envy you.

  • Hi Amanda.

  • >> Hi Oprah.

  • [LAUGH].

  • >> I can't believe I just said that [LAUGH].

  • So we have been so excited and eagerly anticipating this day.

  • This campus has been buzzing since the announce, announcement

  • was made last week that you'd be coming here.

  • And I received.

  • >> Thanks for the buzz.

  • I'm so glad you know I still have buzz.

  • So good.

  • >> I received a lot of support and advice from my

  • friends and that was really great and I just wanted to

  • say I think the best advice I've heard was don't worry

  • Amanda, if you mess up, Oprah can just interview herself [LAUGH].

  • >> [LAUGH] So, if I falter, feel free to

  • ask yourself some questions, and we'll, and we'll be good.

  • [LAUGH] But to get things started, I want, I

  • thought we'd frame today's talk with framing three sections with

  • quotes of yours that you shared after wrapping up your

  • 25th season and final season of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

  • And I thought some of these quotes, I mean you share so much wisdom but, these these

  • really spoke to me, and thought would be a great way to frame our discussion.

  • >> Okay.

  • >> So this first one that I will read for everyone

  • and for you so you don't have to strain your neck

  • is you have to know what sparks the light in you

  • so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.

  • So I wanted to take this time to talk

  • about your early career and how you discovered your calling.

  • So lets go back to when you were college age.

  • Did you know that you wanted to get into TV and media specifically?

  • >> No I did not.

  • I thought that I was going to be a teacher.

  • I was in my Sophomore class at Tennessee State University.

  • I'd already been working in radio since I was 16 and my

  • I remember I was in Mr. Cox's drawing class for theatre.

  • And I was terrible drawer.

  • He said, I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler.

  • [LAUGH] And and I got a call in that class, from a guy at the local

  • station CBS, and he have been calling me several times when I was working in radio.

  • So I started working in radio at 16, and one

  • of them is fire prevention contest, another one story.

  • And so when I went back to the station to pick my

  • prize, some guy said, would you like to hear your voice on tape.

  • I said sure and I started reading this copy on tape.

  • They called everybody in the building, said here this kid read.

  • I was 16 they hired me in radio.

  • So I was in radio at 16.

  • And so I started getting calls about my freshman year to come into television.

  • I had never thought about it.

  • And still was living at home, and couldn't

  • figure out how I'd manage those, I had biology

  • at 1 o'clock, and so I couldn't figure out how I would be able to manage my schedule.

  • [COUGH] And Mr. Cox said to me, the one same, same

  • professor said you can't draw a straight line with a ruler.

  • He said, I came back from, from taking this phone call and

  • he said who was that I said there's this guy at CBS

  • he keeps calling me, he wants me to interview for a job,

  • and Mr. Cox said, that is why you go to school fool.

  • [LAUGHING] So that CBS can call you.

  • [LAUGH] That is why you are in school.

  • So I, he said you, you leave now and go call him back.

  • And, and, I did.

  • And I was hired in television not knowing anything about it.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> Having in mind Barbera Walters but thinking.

  • Oh, okay I can do that.

  • Not knowing how to write or film or anything.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> And I think it was because it was the, it was the times and I literally had

  • somebody who was willing to work with me that I, that I managed to, to find my way.

  • But I had to find my way, because, the reporting

  • never really fit me, and what did work for me.

  • I'm this old, I'm so old that when I

  • started that it was the year of live action cam.

  • [COUGH] And so, it was like video cameras live, and so, the news stations would do

  • a live, a live shot they would throw

  • to somebody live even if nothing was going on.

  • >> Right.

  • >> Just so they could say live action cam.

  • And what I found was I wasn't so good at the writing part but if

  • I was just standing up and talking about what had just happened it was really good.

  • And then I started to feel, so I started

  • at 19 working in television, became an anchor immediately afterwards.

  • My father still had an 11 o'clock curfew.

  • Can you believe such a thing?

  • [LAUGH] That I am, that I am

  • the 10 o'clock anchor [LAUGH] in Nashville Tennessee.

  • I am the woman on the newscast.

  • [LAUGH] Reading the news, and my father would say be home by 11.

  • [LAUGH] And I'd say, dad, the news is on at ten,

  • he goes and it's off at 10:30 so be home by 11.

  • [LAUGH] So I, I, I had a very strict Gracier father.

  • So, anyway, I, I could feel inside myself, that reporting was

  • not the right thing for me even though I was happy to have the job.

  • >> Right.

  • >> I got an offer to go to Atlanta.

  • I was making $10,000 a year in 1971, but still

  • in college, so I was thinking I was doing pretty good.

  • >> Yeah.

  • >> I got an offer to go to Atlanta for $40,000 which I thought.

  • It's over.

  • [LAUGH] I'm gonna make $40,000.

  • And my boss at the time said to me you do not know what you don't know.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> And you need to stay here until you can learn to

  • write better until you can can perfect your craft as, as a journalist.

  • And so I, I he said we can't give you 40, but we can give you 12.

  • So [LAUGH] so I stayed and you know the reason why I stayed is cuz I could

  • feel inside myself that even though the 40 was

  • alluring at the time, that he was absolutely right.

  • So to make a long story short, cuz I'd be

  • here all day just talking about how it all came about.

  • I started listening, to what felt like the truth for me.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> A couple of years later I moved to Baltimore.

  • I could feel that as a reporter, and by this time, 22, I'm making 22,000.

  • I met my best friend Gale there who said oh my

  • god, can you imagine when your thirty and your making 30,000.

  • [LAUGH] And then you're 40 and then it's 40,000.

  • [LAUGH] We actually had that conversation in the bathroom.

  • So this is I started to feel that reporting wasn't for me.

  • But I had my father, I had my friends.

  • Everybody was saying, oh my God, you're, you're an anchorwoman, you're on TV.

  • I mean, you can't give up that job.

  • >> Right.

  • >> And when I was, by the time I was

  • making 25, my father goes, you just hit the jackpot.

  • You not gonna make no more money than that.

  • That's just it.

  • So I was torn between what the world was saying

  • to me, and what I felt to be the truth for

  • myself.

  • It felt like an unnatural act for me reporting, although

  • I knew that to a lot of people, it was glamorous.

  • And, I started to just inside myself think what, what

  • do I really wanna do, what I really wanna do.

  • And I will say this.

  • Knowing what you don't want to do is the best

  • possible place to be if you don't know what to do.

  • Because knowing what you don't want to do leads you to

  • figure out what it is that you really do wanna do.

  • >> Okay.

  • So you discovered talk then, right?

  • Around that time?

  • >> I didn't discover talk.

  • I was being, I got demoted.

  • >> God.

  • >> They wanted to fire me but I was, I was under contract.

  • They didn't wanna give up the 25,000 so they were

  • trying to keep me on to the end of the year.

  • So they put me on the, this is how life works, [CROSSTALK]

  • they put me on a talk show to try and avoid having

  • to pay me the contract out and the moment I sat on

  • the talk show interviewing the Carvel ice cream man and his multiple flavors.

  • [LAUGH] I knew that I had found home for myself.

  • Because when I was a news reporter, it was so unnatural for me, I, you know, to cover

  • somebody's tragedies and difficulties and then to not to have feel anything for it.

  • And I would go back after a fire.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> And I would take the blankets and then I would get

  • a note from my boss saying, what the hell are you doing?

  • >> Right.

  • >> You're just supposed to report on it.

  • >> Can't be that empathetic.

  • >> Can, cannot be that empathetic.

  • And it felt unnatural for me.

  • So if I were to put it in business terms, if it were were to leave you with a

  • message, that the truth is I have from the very beginning listened to my instinct.

  • All of my best decisions in life have come because I was

  • attuned to what really felt like the next right move for me.

  • And so, it didn't feel right.

  • I knew that I wouldn't be there forever.

  • I never even learned the street in Baltimore, because I thought I was there

  • longer than I thought, I was there eight years I should've learned the streets.

  • [CROSSTALK] I kept saying to myself I'm not gonna be here long, I'm not

  • gonna be here, I'm not gonna be here so I'm not gonna learn the street.

  • So when I got the call to come to Chicago.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> After you know starting with a, with a coanchor and, and working in

  • talk, for several years, I knew that it was the right thing to do.

  • And I knew that if I didn't even if I, didn't succeed cuz

  • at the time, there was a, there was a guy named Phil Donahue.

  • >> Yeah.

  • >> Who was the king of talk.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • And was on in Chicago, and every single person,

  • except my best friend Gale, said you are gonna fail.

  • Every single person, [INAUDIBLE] my bosses by this time thought I was

  • terrific, and said, you're gonna, you're, you're waking into a land mine.

  • You're gonna fail.

  • You're gonna fail.

  • Chicago's a racist city.

  • You're black you're not gonna make it.

  • Everything to, to keep me same.

  • Then they offered me a car and apartment and all this stuff, and I said no.

  • If I fail, then I will find out what is the next thing for me.

  • >> Right.

  • >> What is the next true thing for me.

  • >> It felt right to you, so you went for it.

  • >> Cuz it felt like this is now the move I need to make.

  • And I was not one of those people you

  • know, all of my the people who worked with me

  • in the news, they would have their taps and they'd

  • have their stories, and they'd have you know resume's ready.

  • I didn't have any of that, cuz I knew that the time would come.

  • >> Mm-hm.

  • >> Where I would, where what I needed would show up for me.

  • >> Okay.

  • >> And when that showed up, I was ready.

  • Because my definition of luck, is

  • preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.

  • >> Right.

  • >> And I was prepared to be able to step into that, that, that

  • world of talk in a way that I, I knew I could do it.

  • >> Great.

  • So, often in your career I'm sure you were a minority.

  • Perhaps as the only woman.

  • The only black person, the only person from a poor family.

  • Did this pr, affect you on your professional path?

  • And how did you navigate situations in which you might have felt more alone?

  • >> Hm.

  • >> And now how did that impact how you lead and

  • how you might help people who may be feeling that same thing?

  • >> Okay, that's a lot of questions.

  • [LAUGH].

  • >> I'm sorry, all right let's let's-.

  • >> Let me put my glasses on.

  • [LAUGH].