Oprah Winfrey was supposed to be a surprise at Essence Fest 2016. Her friend and festival-regular Iyanla Vanzant had invited the powerhouse TV show host, producer, network owner and businesswoman during a conversation in January, but the real surprise came when Vanzant unexpectedly and recently became ill and had to undergo surgery.
“And now I’m surprised I’m having to speak to you all myself,” Winfrey said Saturday (July 2), just days after festival organizers unveiled she’d be the day’s leading speaker.
Winfrey made her Essence debut to a packed house at the festival’s Empowerment Experience stage, the audience filled with notables like Ava DuVernay, Lynn Whitfield, Gayle King, Roland Martin and the cast of the upcoming OWN TV show “Queen Sugar.” As for the rest of the wall-to-wall crowd, Winfrey overlooked an audience that came to its feet to speak along with her as she quoted her most oft-used lines.
Wearing a red draped dress, glasses and a neat ponytail, Winfrey strode, ran and sauntered across the stage as her stories required, speaking to a room that could have held just a few friends as opposed to hundreds of anonymous strangers.
“This is my first time here. What took me so long? What took me so long?” she began. “All I got to say is it’s beyond happiness to be here.”
Winfrey spoke for nearly an hour, urging her hard-earned lessons be relatively easier ones for those who listened. She recounted stories about the time she spent in church as a young girl, about how she hoped and prayed for a role in “The Color Purple” and about what she considers success.
“I want to leave you hopefully with something you can take home that not only empowers but emboldens you to live the life that God intended,” she said.
Here are some of those lessons, as told in seven of her most inspiring quotes at Essence Fest:
• “I am living the dream. And I want you to live the dream because I’m not living the dream because I’m special. I’m living the dream because I was obedient to the call of the dream. I want you to leave here today thinking about what is the dream for you? What is God’s dream for you? What does the Creator’s dream hold for you? So often we spend our lives hoping and wishing and hoping and wishing and desiring things. This is what I know for sure: You don’t get what you hope for. You don’t get get what you wish for. You get what you believe.”
• “I used to dream the dream driving through the white peoples’ neighborhoods. You’d see their fancy houses. Sometimes they had gates, but all of them had trees. I thought, ‘Oh, rich people have trees. Some people want pocketbooks and cars, but I want me some trees. … About three years ago, I was sitting in my kitchen window, making coffee in the morning and I saw the six trees. I was making the coffee. I saw the six trees. I went out on the porch to actually count the six trees, and this is what I noticed: That I could dream the six, but beyond the six trees in my kitchen window are 3,687 trees. How do I know? Because I had them counted. I dreamed the six. That was as much as my small mind and my imagination can see. I dreamed the six, but God can see beyond the six.”
• “The key, the secret, the magic is to surrender to God’s dream for you.”
• “For everything there is an equal and opposite reaction. … It means no matter what you do, what you say, the energy of who you are is going out into the world, into your home, into your relationships and that energy is always coming back to you. You are responsible for the energy that you are putting out into the world because that very energy — bam! —is coming right back to you every single time, whether you believe it or not, because it is law. It is law.”
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SOURCE: NOLA – Chelsea Brasted