Since I am in Chicago it is only natural that I would try to find a way to see Oprah. I DVR her show every day, and watch almost every episode. I like a lot of things about her show, but what I think I like the most is that she has created a place where people know that they should tell the truth. Celebrities cry on Oprah who have possibly never cried in public before.. people come forward and tell their sometimes brutally painful stories on national TV. I think that's pretty amazing.
SO. Things became really easy when I noticed on our bulletin board at work that our company manager had managed to get us passes to see Oprah- we just had to pick the day. So, Tia, the rest of the "el cuartel" and I all signed up. We are all huge fans, but especially my friend Kiara, so it was a date we were all looking forward to.
My alarm went off at 7 am. In actor-ese, that's basically like 3 am. But we all got there and waited in a long line outside Harpo studios, which is just west of the loop on Washington street. Shortly, a gorgeous woman of color with a clipboard came out and called our party and took us in ahead of a lot of people.... haaaaaaaay, special treatment! After that we all had to fill out a blue release form, and then did some more waiting in a holding room. Slowly, party by party, we were taken into the studio: where all the magic happens. Because we had all dressed in bright colors as instructed, we were placed in the second and third rows right smack dab in the middle. Then we waited some more, had an Oprah staff member "warm up" the audience, and then--- SHE CAME OUT.
To say that upon seeing Oprah I sincerely felt I was seeing a unicorn in the forest is a huge understatement. I am honestly NEVER someone who is star struck or at a loss for words. But Oprah is a total unicorn, and I knew I was in the presence of something great. Here's the thing. She looked pretty tired. She was wearing a tight dark wash denim pants obviously tailor made for her-- no pockets whatsoever, and a flowy sea foam green top and these FIERCE metallic heels. She sort of walked out from backstage very slowly like she had just dragged herself to the set. One of the first things she said verified this-- "I love doing this show y'all, but I am TIRED. I can't wait till we are done filming for the season!"
After she filmed the first segment for the show, which was entitled "Heroes in Hard Times", she started to warm up more and more. During the commercial breaks she started telling these amazing stories to the live audience. She told us about her very first car, which was a Chevette, and how much she loved that car. She said that years later while she was driving around in her Mercedes, she happened to see her old Chevette out on the road, and she got very excited about it and yelled to the guy who was driving it, "Hey! I love that car". He looked at her Mercedes and assumed she was mocking him and his Chevette, so he flipped her off! And Oprah flipped US off while telling the story. Amazing.
The show was really touching-- it was about people who, in spite of the economic downturn had found a way to give of themselves and help people. It was really amazing to see these stories. After the show finished filming, Oprah took some questions from the audience: just discussing what we could do to help, and what inspired us from the people who were highlighted during the show. I (of course) made a comment about how it seemed to me that most of these very giving people had taken inspiration from a something simple and prosaic. I said that it seemed like we don't need an earth-shattering moment to do good, we just need to be in the mindset to HELP, and then inspiration will come. Oprah agreed with me and said that she thought we all could look for those moments. I then said, I just find these people so beautiful, and she then said "beautiful" as she tends to repeat the last word of someone else's sentence as a way of agreeing with them. It was AMAZING!!!
Suze Orman is one of my absolute favorite TV personalities. She is an out and proud lesbian jew-ess from Chicago IL famous for being a larger than life financial guru. She has written over 10 books about finance, many of which have been best sellers. What I think I love most about Suze is her great insight into people and money. Every Saturday night at 8pm on CNBC she is on the air, talking to people about money, answering questions, and letting people know whether or not they can afford what they SO want to buy. Constantine and I have been watching her show for years, and learning great financial habits along the way. But as I said, Suze doesn't just talk about money. She talks about the way people spend money being a reflection of the way they tend to interact interpersonally. If someone is stingy with money, they are probably rigid and ungenerous with love and affection. If someone's financial life is in chaos, it is very probable that their life overall is in chaos. Suze is always an advocate for TRUTH. When this recession hit she was so big into GETTING HONEST. How much debt are we carrying around? Why are we living beyond our means? Why are we suffering in silence about our debt and how irresponsible we have been? She wants people to get real about their financial situations so they can get real in their lives. She is a very inspiring person to me, and of course even more so because she is someone how is not only encouraging of people to be honest about money, but also about their lives. Her partner is called K.T. (I don't know what that stands for, but that is what Suze calls her)
So, a couple of weeks ago, I had a financial question. Almost as a whim I decided that I would go onto her website and ask my question via email. To my GREAT delight, one of the producers of the show got back to me and said that she though my question was interesting, and wondered if I wanted to be on the show. Now bear in mind I had JUST seen Oprah one day before. My dreams seemed to be coming true at such a rapid pace!! I said yes I would love to talk to Suze in as restrained a manner as possible, but clearly not that restrained because the producer then responded, "You're really excited, aren't you?" Um YES.
Yesterday was my big phone date with Suze. I was sitting in an absolute fixed position after the producer called me and told me that I would be talking to Suze next, and in a few moments I was patched through to another girl's phone call to Suze about whether or not she should marry this guy who was in a great deal of debt. Suze was on fire!! I was so excited. After the young lady finished her question, there was a brief cesura, during which Suze cleared her throat and said something to someone in her studio. Then, she said, "Clark, MY BROADWAY BABY, what can I do for you??" I really wasn't expecting her to mention my career because I didn't remember discussing it with her producer, but I must've mentioned that I do musical theater. So then before I could even answer, she said, "I have to ask, will you sing something for me??" I don't know why, but the first thing that came into my head (Hilary this is for you) was the "Lullaby of Broadway", so I sang that. She then asked me what show I was in, and I told her I was in her hometown doing "Mary Poppins". She seemed to love that. Then I continued that I am absolutely in love with her show, and that my "partner" (Suze always says that so it seemed appropriate) and I watch her show every Saturday night instead of going out and spending money. "Date night with Suze, date night with Suze, that's what I call it. Stick with me boyfriend- now ask me your question!" I proceeded to ask her about an Adjustable Rate Mortgage my credit union offered, and as expected (she hates ARMs, but this one wasn't AS BAD as some so that's why I asked), she advised against it. "Let me set the STAGE (get it) for you my dear Clark. You need to get a FIXED mortgage so you know how much you are paying every single month. Spread your little broadway wings and find a different lender, there is not a better time to get a 30 or 15 year fixed right now, and that is what you should do."
So that is how I came to speak to both Oprah and Suze in the course of one week. I love my life!