Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I’m grateful for Oprah in Sydney

Today I was one of the lucky ones who got to go to the morning taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show at the Sydney Opera House. As I queued along Macquarie Street to get into the forecourt, sat in the crowd and then contemplated the day afterwards, I consolidated my ‘gratefulness’ to the below...

1. INSPIRATION: I’ve long been a fan of Oprah for many reasons. She is a fantastic role model for women (particularly of colour) around the world. She’s been honest about her weight battles all her life and has never let body image or race stop her being what and who she wants to be. There is much to be learned from those points alone. Oprah has become who she is by not being a victim, by choosing positivity over negativity, by giving back to the community and by clearly loving her job. I believe she experiences phenomenal adoration and respect – and today’s crowds are testament to that – because she humanises the big issues, she makes individual’s dreams come true and she demonstrates the joy that can come from simple, and sometimes extraordinary acts of generosity. I am inspired to be a better person, woman, professional, because of Oprah, and I am grateful for that inspiration.

2. THE LEAD UP: Well, what a ride it’s been since hearing I won tickets to the show. I have been re-connected with old friends, had emails, text messages and phone calls from people, including strangers, who were happy for – and yet jealous - of me getting the chance to go along. Being a fan of Oprah is little like being a fan of a rock star - you share with others a passion for someone you idolise, admire, and perhaps even wish you were! (Ok, yes, I do want to be the Australian Oprah – and waiting to see if NITV can help make that happen – details another time). In terms of that sharing, it was an interesting experience queuing along Macquarie Street this morning. My coach Geraldine Star and I stood alongside six thousand others also desperate to see Oprah live. There was an eerie, peaceful silence as we edged closer to the SOH forecourt as if we were keeping vigil. I met people who had travelled from Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Newcastle all grateful for being there also.

Today’s event at the Sydney Opera House was an amazing moment in time. My day began at 4am when I woke up. My friend Felicia Yong came at 5am to do my hair and makeup, Belinda Miller from NITV and Ming D’Arcy her cameraman arrived at 5.30am. The cab arrived at 6.40am and we were on our way into the city, chatting and laughing all the while, with me giving trivia about Oprah’s life and work history. Once near the ticketing / security area we spotted the TV icon arrive in her black BMW and she waved out the window and thanked us all for coming. It was a surreal moment. Then sitting under the perfect Sydney sky we waited for the Queen of TV to make her way finally to the stage in a hot orange frock. And for the next 90 minutes we were treated to the best Australian Tourism Advert ever! The world’s most influential woman gave her blessing on the country she now loves, Bon Jovi and Jay Z told their countrymen and women back home why they love coming to Australia, our own Russell Crowe gave some social and cultural insight into the Aussie psyche (including the ‘tall poppy syndrome), a young suffering family got a cheque for $250k, every student at Canterbury Boys High School got a laptop AND, all of us lucky ones in the audience, received a stunning Kailis pearl pendant (see pic below). Watching the Oprah special on Channel 10 as I write this, it reminds me that Australian audiences are far more sedate compared to her American audiences. Not less grateful for gifts etc, just less hysterical. Just an observation.

4. NITV:
I was grateful for going to the Oprah event because it brought into my world today the wonderful Belinda Miller (pic below of us together) who has long wanted to meet Oprah also. My dear tidda actually got to ask Oprah a question on camera. How exciting! Belinda and Ming were following me for a new show called "Gathering" to be aired at the end of January 2011. Check it out and support the National Indigenous Television.

5. RANDOM MOMENTS: Finally, one the highlights of my day was a family of five coming up to me at the Opera Bar after Belinda had interviewed me, and Geraldine and I were having some lunch. The mother Meaghan leaned in and said, ‘Anita are you really attached to that copy of Manhattan Dreaming you’ve got there? Could I buy it from you?’ WOW! Of course I just gave it to her, because it was a very special moment for girl from the burbs like me. I said, ‘Well, I brought it to give to Oprah, but I’d be pleased for you to read it. Email me if you like it, if not, don’t email me!’ The family were from Sunshine Coast and in town for Bon Jovi. What a way to end the day. I left the SOH concourse feeling bubbly and full of bubbly!


Sue Metzenrath said...

What a lovely, personal insight:-) *You* are such an inspiration:-) & congrats on getting beautiful pearl...nice

Joy Makepeace said...

Hi Anita, I was thinking about you today, being one of the lucky "golden ticket" Oprah show holders. I am so glad that you had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the moment. I have taken your advice from when I met you in Canberra in 14 September, 2010 at AIATSIS and have been writing, writing and writing check out my blog
Best wishes and thanks for the ongoing inspiration. xoxo Joy Makepeace

TEZ said...

I wondered whether you'd get to Oprah's gig and it's great to know you did ! I bet you look ever-so-deadly wearing your new pendant . I'm comfortable with the thought that here in OZ , we do hold back a bit on the hysteria , that said ...there's always room for a little Heissteria !! WOO-HOO !!

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hi Sue - Thanks so much for your words, and the pearly is gorgeous isn't it. I think it may become my new good luck charm :) Happy Sunday to you!

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hi Joy - great to see you here and so glad you are writing, writing, writing! Will pop over to your blog shortly. Much peace, Anita

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hey Tez - you know I always love to see your name here. And think HEISSTERIA is genius! Do you have copyright on that brother? I may have to get tee-shirts made.
Hope all is well in your world.
x Anita

Mini aka Benjamina said...

You are so spot on with your comments on Oprah as a focus for inspiration.
Your comments helped me understand, if only the tip of the iceberg, how much Oprah has ment to coloured women.
Your positive attitude to life is also reflected. I am happy to know you.

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hey Mini - thanks for dropping by and for your words. I find much inspiration in Oprah and know so many other women - black and white - who see her as a positive influence. One just needs to be open to possibilities and trust.

Much peace to you today. Anita

Tania McCartney said...

Oh sigh.

Dr Anita Heiss said...

It was a great day in Sydney Tania. I did a story for the KOORI MAIL, not sure if you saw it. And on February 13 you can see how much fun I had going to see Oprah live at the Sydney Opera House as documented by Belinda Miller on NITV. Tune into NITV’s new series GATHERING at 7pm (AEDT.

Much peace,

Sherrice Thomas said...

I think I saw you waving at the camera. :-)

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hey Sherrice - you can see me on TV on a special five min spot on yours truly here:

Just click on Episode 2.


Olga Walker said...

Good afternoon
I have just found your blog - exciting and am studying "Avoiding Mr Right" at uni (s'cool). I really am enjoying reading Australian authors, particularly those who challenge dominant narratives - which to my shame, I am only really starting to get my head around now even though I am an older woman. Just didnt realise so much is going on in the world:):)

Love the Oprah bling too!!!!

PS have also started to get a writing career finally out of my dreamspace and started my own blog - just in case anyone is interested the link is:

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hi Olga!
Thanks so much for stopping by and I'm glad you're enjoying Avoiding Mr Right. Where are you studying?
I'll pop of to your blog soon! Anita

Olga Walker said...

Hi Anita, lovely to hear from you - I hope your research in Queensland is really going well.

Me, I am a mature 3rd year student at University of Wollongong, and the degree is a BA of Community, Culture and Environment. I am hoping that I will be able to do a research degree when I complete the course in June. I am interested in identity-making through literature and offical documentation in archives.

The reason I love 'Avoiding Mr Right' is that a lot of important issues are covered in bite-sized chunks in a way that is not confronting or condemnatory, yet the message is there and reaches out...

When the studies are finished I will certainly make a bee-line for my local bookstore to read the rest of your books:):):)

Have a good one and thank you for what you do...