Oprah tells Palace crowd: ‘You matter’

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Slipping into her role as a star-powered life coach for all, Oprah Winfrey told a packed Palace crowd that they could change their lives at any point, no matter their past.

“Whatever dissatisfaction you are feeling, your soul has a purpose for being here. You matter. That’s the reason you are here,” Winfrey told the cheering crowd of mostly women during her stop in Auburn Hills on her Life You Want Weekend Tour. “If you’re here, it means you get a second chance.”

Winfrey is stopping in Metro Detroit for the weekend, the second of her eight-city tour. Friday night, she spoke of her personal life and accomplishments and the lessons she has learned over the years. Saturday, she emcees a day-long parade of “trailblazers” including life coach Iyanla Vanzant, star of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show “Iyanla Fix My Life,” Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and Grand Rapids Pastor Rob Bell, who was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

“I’m here to help you figure out why you’re here. I’m here to help you turn up the volume in your life,” Winfrey said Friday. “I’m here to help you figure out what your purpose is, your passion is, your vision is.”

Winfrey began her show by quoting Carl Sagan, talking about how everyone is made of stars. As she spoke, wrist bands that each attendee received before the show, lit up like twinkling stars in a dark sky.

“All life is energy,” she said as the bands changed from white, to red to yellow. “I want some sunrise faith — knowing for certain, no matter how dark it gets, Auburn Hills, the sun will always rise.”

Winfrey rose from below onto a stage set up like a catwalk that she would pace throughout the night as she addressed the audience during her two-hour talk. She began at the beginning, speaking about when she was a 3-year-old standing on her grandmother’s porch in Mississippi, the first time she felt there was more to her purpose in life than to follow in her grandmother and mother’s footsteps and be a maid.

“My grandmother was boiling clothes in a big black pot. She says, ‘Oprah gal, you better watch me now, one day you might have to learn to do this for yourself,’” said Winfrey. “That voice, that little feeling inside myself said, ‘nah-uh. This is not going to be my life.’”

Winfrey explained how that little voice, what she referred to as her “spiritual self,” guided her through the best and hardest times in her life: when she was raped as a 9-year-old, when she was pregnant and lost her son as a 14-year-old, when she found out she had gotten the role in “The Color Purple,” the movie role that won her an Academy Award.

Then she explained how every person has that little voice and that “oftentimes when things are not going the way you want them to, it’s your life pushing you in a different direction.”

“When you start to feel it, you’re supposed to pay attention to what that is,” she said.

Winfrey began her career on radio and then moved into television, becoming a newscaster in Nashville, Baltimore and Chicago. Daytime TV came later, and she found massive success with “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She was so powerful and popular that there was a time when anything that she endorsed on her show, whether that be a book, a pair of shoes or even a political candidate, would become an instant success. This phenomenon became to be referred to as “The Oprah Effect.”

Winfrey used her show as a platform to explore issues that mattered to her, conducted some of the most acclaimed celebrity interviews in history and pushed her philanthropic goals. She said it taught her to focus on what her spirit really wanted out of life.

“All of your confrontations are about,’ did you hear me? Are you really seeing me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’” she said. “Because I understand this, I can talk to anybody about anything.”

In 2007, she established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Winfrey’s last show was in May 2011, a few months after she launched OWN, her TV network.

In 2013, she was awarded the President Medial of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

The common thread for everything Winfrey told the audience, is that life is a work in progress and there is always time to change and follow your heart.

“I’m still trying to get the life I want,” she said. “When this tour is over, I’m going to listen to the tape, see what I said and take my own recommendations.”

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com

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