Oprah Winfrey Receives First-Ever Empowerment Award | Empowerment in Entertainment

Oprah Winfrey Receives First-Ever Empowerment Award | Empowerment in Entertainment


– Thank you, everybody,
for coming out for lunch. So, the reason I said
yes when Stephen Galloway went to meet with my team, you know, when they came and said, you know, that The Hollywood Reporter wants wants to give you an empower, I do not come out, you’re so right. I do not need another award. (audience laughs) But, when, after it was explained to me that it was for the young executives and that it was about taking this moment that we all share here and reaching back and reaching out and empowering others, that is the reason why I
said yes, Sherry Lansing. I said yes because I think that’s the role that we all have in this room, to take what you have and who you are, and to pass it on in whatever way you can. That’s your real job,
that’s the real work. It’s not just to rise, but
to make sure somebody else gets to come on up to the rising. So.
(audience applauds) I have to say, as my
sister Alicia was saying, the moment, I’m in tears,
because the moment is even, it’s even better than I
thought it was going to be. Thank you, THR. That was such a great moment. I was talking to the
young people backstage. The trajectory of your
life is about to change. Everything is about to change. Every, every, I read all of your stories. Everything that ever
has ever happened to you has also happened for you, and the strength and
courage that you’ve shown, that you allowed yourselves
to be chosen in this moment, is not luck. It’s because you’ve been preparing, all of those struggles have been preparing you for this moment. And the trajectory’s about to change because you’re going to have access. You’re going to see
what’s really going on. And I remember, I had that moment. I was saying this to Lacey Rose, who was my favorite reporter
at The Hollywood Reporter. (audience laughs) I was saying to Lacey, I remember the first time, Bishop, I came to Bel-Air. And I went whoa. This is what white people
have been doing all this time. (audience laughs) Well, now I understand
(audience laughs) a few things. So, just being able to have
the access and the opportunity. So thank you, Ar Emanuel,
WME, THR, all for this moment. You know, when I was first
approached about being here, it struck me that this is actually coming at a very perfect moment, because I think a whole
lot of us in this country have been feeling a kind of impotent rage as a result of the micro inequalities and the macro unfairness
that we see every single day. And I’m here to tell you that there is a time to let things happen and there is a time to make things happen. And this new program and this award, this extraordinary award,
is actually a declaration that now is the time to
make some things happen. (audience applauds)
Because. Kumail was right. Empowerment is authority. It is a signed permission slip
to actually seize the day. It’s the process of getting stronger and more confident and more engaged, and to be empowered is
to move through the world without any kind of fear
or any kind of apology. And with these gifts comes
an even deeper privilege, I believe, and that is the ability to take charge of your own life, to own yourself and claim your rights. And here’s what I know for sure. That to whom much is
given, much is expected, and I have been given so much. I’ve earned it, I’ve been blessed with it, but I’ve been given a lot. And that’s why I’ve chosen to use my life to lift other people up. You know, I think some people think that, are under the impression
that I was born empowered, that I was born coming out of the womb ready to interview a Klansman. (audience laughs) Then, cut to commercial,
we’ll be right back. (audience laughs) But the truth is, I know very well what it’s like to be marginalized, to be told either subtly
or quite directly, that my contribution
isn’t or wasn’t welcome, that my face was invisible, and that my needs were an affront. So, back when I was doing
the news in Baltimore, I asked to be paid the
same as my co-anchor who did exactly the
same job as I was doing. And I expected that I
would be compensated, so I went in and I asked that I would get the same amount of money. So he was doing the same job I was doing, except that he called
me babe all the time. Babe, yeah, babe. Anyway, I was told by my news director and by the general manager, because first I went to news record, than I went to the general manager, and I was told that because
I was a single woman who didn’t have a mortgage, and I didn’t have kids, that I was not entitled to
earn the same kind of money as the man who was sitting next
to me doing the same thing. And I realized in that moment, that my employers did not get it. They did not understand my value. But, you know what? I did. So, cut to A.M. Chicago. The team’s hard at work and they had been working for a long time. And after a year or so, we
were asked to be syndicated. That work began to pay off, and before long we were now
no longer called A.M. Chicago. We’re the National Oprah Winfrey Show. I got a raise. This is before I own myself. So.
(audience laughs) I got a raise, but my producers did not. So I went into the boss at the time, and I asked that my producers, who incidentally were all female, I asked that they would be
given a pay raise increase, and my boss, this is 1986, said, why? They’re only girls. What do they need more money for? Girls. I’ve used the word
affectionately, sometimes, referring to women as girls, and there was no affection in his tone. It was absolutely condescending. So, you know, it takes a
while to develop a voice, but once you have it, you damn sure better use
it on stuff that matters. So, I took a deep breath in that moment, and said either they’re
going to get raises or I’m going to sit down. I’m not going to work if they
don’t get paid more, babe. (audience laughs)
(audience applauds) Now. (audience applauds) Now, I would like to believe that I could have spoken that
kind of truth to misogyny even if I’d been all by myself. But here I was, on the brink of finally getting what I really wanted, and been working many
years for a national show. I mean, I might have been too intimidated to stand my own ground against this guy if I were actually alone. But, here’s the thing, you’re never alone. You’re never alone. The sovereign sound of
Maya Angelou’s voice was pushing me forward that day, whispering, I come as one
but I stand as 10,000. So, when I was faced with the opportunity to advocate for my producers, I silently called on some of the 10,000, and walked into my boss’s
office, hand in spirit, with the women who had come before me. I could feel Bessie
Smith, and Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, and Pearl Bailey, and Sarah Vaughn, and Lena Horne, clutching their green books
looking for a place to eat while they sing in supper
clubs for whites only. (audience applauds)
And I could feel Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks refusing to relinquish their dignity in the face of death threats. All these women were with me that day, walking into the office in Chicago. As was Dianna Carroll, and Petula Clark, and Joan Baez, and Mary Tyler Moore, and Moms Mabley, and Barbara Walters, and all of the astonishing
women whose names none of us will ever even
know despite their sacrifice. And I’m pretty sure I even
heard Shirley Chisholm urging me on with this thought: if they don’t give you
a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. (audience applauds) And I understood. I understood that there were so many times that many women from
my mother’s generation, and God knows, my
grandmother’s generation, who were forced to grit their teeth and just take it, because standing up for
themselves wasn’t even an option. The risk was too great and they knew it. But they also knew in their
bones what my dear friend Maya puts so eloquently into
words when she says, “You may not control all the
events that happened to you, “but you can decide not
to be reduced by them.” Because these women and
so many others like them made the decision not to allow themselves to be reduced by the many
injustices they were subjected to, I found the strength to
act, if not just for myself, not just for my producers, but for all the women who
in their ingenious ways, subverted the rules, laid the foundation, and pushed the envelope just
a little bit further for me, and for you. So, I stand here today feeling
more empowered than ever. I come as one and I stand as 10,000. (audience applauds) I do. (audience applauds) Grateful beyond words to be
able to look around this room and know that we all are here to fulfill the dreams of
those who came before us. Maya used to say, you’ve been paid for. You’ve been paid for, young people, so put your crown on
your head and wear it. (audience hoots)
We are here not barely to bear witness, but to be the new voices of
an extraordinary new age. You see, when I was growing up, there were no black people in the media, just Buckwheat,
(audience laughs) on television. And I was constantly doing that thing, looking to find myself, and
what I found and said was, Leave It to Beaver, and
Donna Reed, and Lassie. Although, technically, I
guess Lassie was mostly brown. (audience laughs)
The point is, though, we are now able to see ourselves reflected through entertainment. But what pleases me most is that we’re beginning to see onscreen. What we’re beginning to see is starting to change the landscape of what we see behind the scenes. What Kumail was talking
about, true inclusion. And what I realized
during all those years, during The Oprah Show, and the reason that OWN is now thriving, is how essential it is to see yourself reflected in other people’s stories. It’s something that you as white people never have to even think about, because the more you
see a broader and richer and more nuanced depiction of yourself and your neighbor and the world, the more empowered you become. And it’s that sense of empowerment that actually tethers us to the universe. It gives us at least a glimpse
of how connected we all are. So what a blessed sign
of progress it is to know that millions of kids in 2019 don’t have to stand with their noses pressed up against the window
or the television screens, looking in at a family that makes them feel
less than by comparison. Today, we can point to work that says, you are every bit as valued and vital to the fabric
of life as anyone else. You are part of a community,
but it takes time. It takes time to see yourself, it takes time to hear yourself, and to feel, to feel appreciated
for just being yourself. Empowerment does not happen overnight. Like change, it is never just one thing. It is a series of consistent
steps, great and small, that proves to us again and again that genuine change is actually possible. So, we are at long last,
perfectly positioned to reach out and design, as we are doing here today, opportunities for the next generation, to be brought in, to observe, to learn, to watch, to see that trajectory change, to watch and see how
we’re doing things now, not how they were done 15 years ago, not even how they were
done five years ago, but how we are working together today. The shift in creating more mindful representations
of the world on screen and off. This is the moment. This is the moment that
we want our young people to watch and emulate. This is our time to show
this next generation what the workplace should look like: inspiring, kind, open to ideas and
thoughts and perspectives from a variety of people. This is how entertainment
should be produced and reflected back to the world. All of the campaigns and programs that have been invented to foster change these last few wild years all come from the very specific intention of wanting to do better. And when you know better,
you’re supposed to do better. Wanting to show that a different way of conducting business
and creating content can be accomplished
without eliminating voices or mistreating anyone along the way. It is possible to have
workplaces that are profitable, that are interesting,
that are ethical places, that honor, that encourage and elevate. When people feel included, it allows for a better flow
of creativity and cohesion. So, to include more
voices in the storytelling across every stage of development not only serves the work, it serves the world. And that’s just one of the reasons why I am so proud of Ava DuVernay for leading the charge in
employing female directors for our beautiful scripted
series Queen Sugar. (audience applauds) We hired 28 first-time female directors during our four seasons of production. (audience applauds)
And those, those filmmakers, those
filmmakers, before they were hired, were not able to get a job in television because nobody was
willing to take a chance. But Ava was not only
willing, she wanted to. She said, “Let’s hire
all female directors.” I said, “Can we do that?” She said, “You can do anything you want.” (audience laughs)
I said, “Let’s do it.” And now, as much as we’d love
to hire some of them back, they’re all too busy.
(audience laughs) Working on other projects. That is incredible. (audience applauds) It shows that when you’re
willing to say yes, and then back that yes up
with action, it can be done, and if you plant the
seeds, talent takes root, and then it blooms. So, when I look at the young executives selected for this new fellowship program, the reason I’m in tears is because I realize that this is
such a critical juncture. We’ve come together as an industry to say that we are going to do better. We are going to do better. So, we have the good
fortune to be in a position to identify and train some of the best and brightest
students, as we’re doing, so they could become the leaders we wish we could have always been. So, when I look at you young executives, I see the hope in your eyes. I see your excitement. I see that was a really good surprise. It would’ve been a
great Oprah Show moment. (audience laughs) And it reminds me of the
way my daughter girls from my Academy in South Africa
look on their graduation day as they cross the stage
to accept their diplomas. I see the sacrifice and the
work that it took to get here, but more than that, I
see the ways in which your lives are now forever changed because of this opportunity
that you’re going to be given, and the choices that you’re going to make, to step into leadership roles, and in the cycles of abuse,
and poverty, of dysfunction, that your mothers and grandmothers and fathers have been endured. I see my girls walk across the stage and literally step into their power, and I am so proud that
we are all here today, consciously saying, we
want to step into our power to make a lasting impact
on the next generation. Our power to say no to assholes. (audience laughs) (audience applauds) Thank you Shonda Rimes. Shonda Rhimes first instituted
the no asshole policy. I love that.
(audience laughs) Our power to say that the way
things were done yesterday does not define how we will
still do them tomorrow. You know, Maya taught me a
really, really important lesson on the day I opened the
doors to the Academy. I share this story all the
time because it impacted me, so I was feeling so good about everything, and I said, we were sitting
there, she was making biscuits, and I said, “I just know, Maya, “this school is going to
be my greatest legacy.” And she got quiet for a moment, and she laid the dough down and she said. “You have no idea what your
legacy is going to be.” I said, “No, no, I think
it’s going to be the school. “Really, it’s going to be school.” And she said (laughs) “Did you hear me?”
(audience laughs) You have no idea what
your legacy is going to be because your legacy is
every life you touch. It’s not one thing, it’s everything. It’s every life you touch. And as always, Maya was right. People may not remember your every word. They may not remember all of your actions, but they certainly remember how your words and your
actions made them feel. So, let’s leave here today with the collective memory of wanting to create
enlightenment in the world. Let’s leave here knowing
that we can give people the sense that they have
been heard and respected. Let’s foster original
thinking and humane treatment. Let’s seek out the words we don’t know. Let’s do away with us and them. I’ve seen us in them create
a whole lot of problems, but I’ve never seen it solve one thing. Instead, let’s nourish our artists. Let’s offer the possibility
of something better for all of us because a new day is no
longer on the horizon. The new day is now. (audience applauds) Thank you.

11 thoughts on “Oprah Winfrey Receives First-Ever Empowerment Award | Empowerment in Entertainment

  1. She once claimed that you could have a half gallon daily of sausage gravy on the Weight Watchers program.

  2. Woooo! Wait a minute why is there lots of hatred here….. Oprah you mentor me through your vedios all the way from Kenya. I believe I will be great someday. Your speeches have made a bolder version of me. Keep doing the good job. You touch so many lives from all over the world unknowingly. To the haters…. write your own story….

  3. These Satanic Pedophiles will soon be facing their long awaited Justice! These dirtbags are truly Evil and some American's are going to be absolutely shocked by the Luciferian element in Hollywood. God Bless President Trump for exposing the Filth! WWG1WGA 🇺🇸

  4. Winnie i real love you alot my whole life role model am here to ask you of afavour my dear.Am Sophie 24years of age from uganda kampala Africa but i need your help to fulfil my dream of agreat singer and songwriter such that one day i can come in America and i see the woman i admire the person i wanted to be like but i have no money to go to situdio to do my music am calling upon anyone who can help me and invest money in me to help me out am ready to pay the money back after reaching my goal.am ready to do anything you or anyone can tell me to do in order to give me money am ready so please help me people,help me Oprah,help me Americans,help me hollywood coz i know you can help me out and i fulfil my dream.I only need 50,000 dollars my dears am ready to face the terms and conditions but help me and someone reply to me.

  5. 🙏🏼🤗💖
    Thank you so much for the reminder (with the story that you repeat all the time):
    "… Your legacy is every life you touch. … They will remember how you made them feel."

    😊💖

    #discoverenjoyfeelgood2

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