About My Epic Week (I Interviewed Oprah), Dreams Realized and Lessons Re-Learned
“Your gift makes room for you and brings you before great men.”
Mannn, look. If that ain’t been my testimony, I don’t know what is, and last week was the epitome of that. I am still processing it all, but I had to write about it because it was surreal and I need to see it in print so I know it’s real.
The week started off with me traveling to Washington DC, because not only was I invited to attend the United State of Women (USOW), I was asked to speak.
USOW was a day long summit convened by the First Lady Michelle Obama and The White House Council on Women and Girls to rally together advocates of gender equality to highlight what we’ve achieved, identify the challenges that remain, and chart the course for addressing them. 5,000 women were invited to the day of plenaries and panels from top leaders and overall epic folks. It was almost packed with TOO much awesome.
We heard talks from President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Nancy Pelosi. There was a life-giving talkback with First Lady Shellie and Oprah Winfrey. Other people who spoke included Kerry Washington, Angelique Kidjo, Billie Jean King, Sophia Bush, It was just dollops of awesome throughout the day. And personally, I had more than a couple of magical moments. Like when I met Amy Poehler and she goes “I have your book! I am really looking forward to reading it!” And I coulda died on the spot.
Later that day in the afternoon, I was moderator of a panel called “Reel Change: Advancing Equity and Opportunity in Media”, with Gloria Steinem, Shonda Rhimes, Sana Amanat (Marvel), Glen Mazzara (Writers Guild of America), Judith Williams (DropBox), Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (MuslimGirl.com). When I first learned that I would be a part of this set of dope people, I was like “Wait WHUT!” Seriously one of the coolest panels I’ve ever been on. Before we got started, Shonda tells me “I am almost done reading your book. It’s on my hotel room nightstand right now.” And I wanted to squeal but I kept my cool.
I MEAN!!! Talk about powerhouses. Being chosen to be the driver of that conversation was such an honor. Then I found out a couple of days before that it was the one that would be livestreamed for people to watch. There were such great gems dropped from the conversation so check out the livestream link and watch from hour 9:04-9:54.
It was incredible, and the feedback afterwards blew my mind. That was Tuesday. Early morning on Wednesday, I got on a flight to head to Los Angeles because the screening of OWNTV’s newest show Greenleaf, was happening that evening. And I was set to host interviews with the members of the cast.
The show is about a churchy Black family in the South, and what happens when a death forces them all together. The drama, the secrets, the shenanigans. It’s a drama starring Lynn Whitfield and Keith David as the parents, Bishop and Mae Greenleaf. Eye candy Lamman Rucker plays their son, Jacob, and Oprah plays Aunt Mavis, the family black sheep. The rest of the cast are newcomers who will soon be known entities, like Merle Dandridge who plays Grace Greenleaf.
I got confirmation that I would be interviewing Mother Oprah too, and I was like HOLY SMOKES. The team at OWN were like “Just be you.” So when the show screening ended, I was given a microphone with OWN on it, and Oprah and Merle came and sat by me. And we just started talking like old buddies.
The interview was streamed across 3 Facebook pages (Oprah’s, OWN’s and Greenleaf) and I sat there chatting it up with those 2 women for 10 minutes. I was both paying attention to what was being said AND being present in the moment of how significant it was that I was sitting next to Oprah Winfrey, the best interviewer on Earth, interviewing her.
At one point, I mentioned the hair of the character Oprah plays in Greenleaf. It’s an epic fro and you know how much I enjoy seeing folks rock hair that is big and BADDDD.
And I said “Up until 6 weeks ago, I had locs.”
Oprah: You unloced!
Me: I unloced! I felt like it was time to let them go.
Oprah: Really? How long did you have them?
Me: 6 and a half years.
Oprah: Whoa. What’s going on with you, Luvvie?
Me: I’m stepping into a new phase in my life. I just wrote my first book. I felt like it was time to let them go.
Oprah: Ah, you’re moving on up.
CHILE, I DIE but I LIVE.
After we wrapped the interview, we took some more pics, and Oprah strokes my hair as she did it and I was on the inside like OMG THIS IS HAPPENING. And we hugged and it felt like hugging clouds and I was high off the moment. And the team at OWN gave me high fives and said “you are a natural.” And my texts blew up as my friends freaked out on my behalf from watching the live video.
And then I took a deep breath because I needed to do that, because I was very aware of the fact that I was living in the realm of my dreams. When I checked Facebook, my boy Scott Hanselman had captured a perfect moment during my interview, where Oprah grabbed my head.
CHILE I FELT ANOINTED.
This wasn’t my first time meeting her. We formally met two months ago on the OWN lot too and I blogged about it. This was just the first time we were able to have an extended exchange, and it happened to be for her own channel. I would not have thunk it then, and I was definitely having a couple of moments.
Then I interviewed the rest of the cast, and spent the rest of the evening at the party on OWN’s lot, under the stars surrounded by stars (and delicious food). And Keith David got on the mic and serenaded us. You know, the non-average, non-regular Wednesday that you should never forget.
BTW, Greenleaf is good dinnamug, and it premieres tonight (June 21 at 9pm ET on OWN).
The next morning (Thursday), I hopped on an 8am flight out of Los Angeles to get back to Chicago, because I was scheduled to be the commencement keynote at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy. I had to give the class of 2016 some words of wisdom. I landed in Chicago at 3pm, got home at 4:30pm, was out the door at 5:15pm to get to the graduation at 6pm. I told the kids what I had been up to that week, because where we talk about dreams coming true, it might sound abstract, but they are possible.
But beyond that, I mostly told them these things:
- You are now an adult. All the good and bad is included.
- Do the work you need to do in college so your partying can be justified.
- Do not sign up for those credit cards, just because they promise free pizza and a tshirt.
- Do not snapchat, tweet, Facebook, Instagram your way out of a good future and good Google footprint. Keep your partying OFF social media
They paid attention, y’all. And when the ceremony was over, parents came up to me to thank me.
From moderating a panel with titans on Tuesday, interviewing Oprah on Wednesday and being the keynote at a graduation on Thursday, I had a week of peaks. It truly felt like Harvest season, and all the work I’ve done up until this point was paying off.
It’s interesting too, because just 2 years ago, on April 21, 2014, I had a moment of self-doubt, questioning what I was doing and feeling like I wasn’t getting what I was due. I posted a status on Facebook, and it said:
“Lately, I’ve been beating myself up because there are places I want to be that I haven’t reached yet. Being the class clown of blogosphere doesn’t always get me the respect I deserve and I was feeling mighty low like Miss Sophia. And then 2 people spoke power to me without even knowing that I needed it. Then I got an email from one of my readers that said “Depression unfortunately is real and for me at times crippling. Your blog serves as a distraction and provides me with laughter and a sense of feel good, I usually forget exist. You are appreciated. Thank you.”
My thug packed up an overnight duffle and went to the Sybaris because: OMG. And I felt foolish for even questioning myself. So I stopped beating myself up because I realized that I am supposed to doing what I’m doing right now and I am where I should be at this exact moment.
I am walking in my purpose and I’m doing it on my own terms, which means the road might be longer but the journey is unfolding just as it needs to. The lessons are many but that was one I needed to be reconfirmed.”
And here I am, on the heels of a week that is confirmation of the fact that I have been on the right path all along. I just had to be patient. There are many lessons that this just reconfirms for me.
Keep speaking my truth
My gifts are: writing, teaching, speaking. I now know that. Communicating ideas well are the things I do well in most forms. I call myself the professional troublemaker because I say the things that people think but dared not to, and there are times that it gets me pushback.
This time last year, I was dealing with the fallout of my callout to people with a platform to speak up about issues that affect folks who look like them. I lost friends from it and got subtweeted up a storm for days. Someone whose conference I keynoted and spoke at several times wrote a blog post lambasting me. But would I take it back. HELL NO. I’d say that shit twice. I have to continue to be strong about who I am, because that is what has allowed me to be in rooms with giants. I used to worry about whether I’m talking myself out of rooms, but shiiddd. Some of the places I’ve been invited to be in can’t get no doper.
Honor your gift
I spoke at an elementary school the other week to 100 6th graders, and one of the teachers said she read my tribute on Muhammad Ali to them, and they cheered as she read along. She said they literally applauded. 12 year olds, who are not impressed by much.
This writing thing has opened some amazing doors for me. I’m really glad I started honoring this gift, because I didn’t pay too much attention to it for a long time. I fought it, because I didn’t personally know many people making a comfortable living writing. I KNEW I was gonna be a Psychologist. Then I KNEW I would go to grad school for my MBA. I thought writing and blogging was a cute hobby. Even after I got laid off my last job (2010), I would still check LinkedIn every week, looking for jobs to apply to.
And then the Universe (God) grabbed my face and was like “You’re not listening to me. You’re supposed to WRITE.”
And the whisper turned into yelling. And my stubborn ass finally listened. And here I am. It took 8 years after I started blogging (in 2010), 1 year after I got laid off and 26 years of living before I decided to honor this gift. It made all the difference.
I’ve written for some of the publications I have been reading for years. I’ve spoken in 6 countries, and at the White House twice. I’ve stood in front of Barbara Walters as I received an award for my voice. My goodness, it’s been incredible.
My gifts have certainly made room for me. Hell, they set up camp.
That is my testimony, that is my journey and that is my life. Because the people I’ve been in the presence of have been GREATS. I stopped fighting my gifts, I started owning my purpose and I put trust in the Universe/God to order my steps. Magic has happened.
Speak my dreams
I wasn’t someone who previously believed in the vague power of speaking what you want to become reality, until I got the courage to actually talk about my goals and dreams. And I saw them start to come to fruition one by one. I am a super practical Capricorn, but I believe in the power of speaking your visions and making them plain. Sometimes, the universe (God) will surprise you and make them happen. Some people just think it is the catalyst to executing when you write or say you want something. I wrote a piece on medium about the time I wrote a vision statement and started seeing everything in it start to materialize.
Well, last week was like that. I didn’t say I wanted to interview Oprah, but I surely said I want her to know my name and speak it one day. I found a tweet from January 1, 2011 where I said just this.
Oprah will know my name one day. And that is the day I’ll know I’ve arrived. Arrived where? Not sure. But I’ll have nice luggage.
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) January 1, 2011
I read it now, 5 and a half years later, wondering if I knew in my heart of hearts that it would happen so soon.
And I don’t mean that you tell everyone everything you want all the time. Big picture things? Sure. But speaking your dreams can even mean telling the ones closest to you. Or writing them down. Or saying them out loud to yourself. Put it out there somehow.
Dream even bigger
Some of the things that have happened for me in the last 2 years weren’t even dreams of mine, because I didn’t dare to think they were even possible. MY BAD. I know better now. I keep getting confirmation that I don’t have the right to set small goals for myself because they keep getting blown out the water.
And for that, I thank God.
So what’s next? Well, in less than 3 months, my first book comes out. I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual will be released on September 13.
That was a mountain I climbed, and my dream is to be a New York Times best-selling author. Let me put that in the “done” category. I WILL BE A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Honestly, the book was the biggest thing I had set for myself thus far. It has been something that I wanted to do for a while, and I haven’t even looked past it. I put in the work to produce something I would be very proud of, and I cannot wait everyone to be able to hold it in their hands. This fall will be spent on my tour for it and afterwards? IDK. We shall see what God has planned for me.
I always gotta give credit to my online community because y’all are partly why I can walk in a room and people listen. Because YOU listen to me. Y’all are the reason why I could convince a publishing house that my book will be sellable. So thank you so much for being here for me. And thank you for helping me make my dreams come true. Thank you for making sure I’m present even when I’m miles away. Your support means the world, and my glow up is your glow up, because you are in these rooms with me.
So yes, it’s been an incredible week and I am in perpetual praise dance mode. I feel like I am standing in light, and when this picture was captured on the Greenleaf carpet on Wednesday, I became obsessed with it. I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do. And for that, I thank God.
Added: I just had to come back to add one more lesson that is TRULY important.
Reach Back and Pull Up
Had mentors? GET MENTEES. It is important that you make someone else’s path easier than yours was. I am a product of it. The reason why we get to do certain things is that someone mentioned our names when we weren’t even present. That matters.
What’s the point of being on the mountaintop if there’s no one else there to enjoy the view with you? Pull others up as your climb. I commit myself to that.
I feel like a proud aunty even though I only e-know you. This is where we break out the good adogan and make some spicy jollof rice with fried chicken for the family because our aburo has arrived. So proud of your glow 🙂
Goosebumps and tears over here!
I second that emotion!
Congratulations! After following your work for so many years, you are indeed a “natural” as the team at OWN stated. You have so much more to do and will experience so many more beautiful moments. Keep soaring and shining bright!
So well-deserved, Luvvie. You walk the walk. You are an inspiration.
God bless you Luvvie!
OMG I am tears! This was God speaking to my heart through *YOU*. Thank you so much for sharing your gift. I am so inspired by this.
So powerful!! So much truth and love in what you do… This world needs it and you are anointed to deliver it. <3
Thank you Luvvie!
I HAVE WEPT REAL TEARS! How did this speak to me? I’ve been struggling with the same questions as to whether this struggle is worth it but YAAAASSSS! let the church say AMEN! God bless you and may you achieve even greater heights.
So happy for you and this message is so timely. Your blog got me through some dark days after my dad died and i needed all your cackles! Now this message is speaking to me as i consider next steps in my life and honoring my truths. I can’t wait to see where the road takes you!
Through happy tears, I’ll simply say congratulations.
I just *breathes*
I’m just so fawking happy for you! I’ve been following you religiously since Google was nice enough to let me stumble upon your blog back in 2012 from one of your Scandal recaps.
I’ve never been more proud of someone I’ve never met 😀
*stands and applauds and does pageant wave to bind up the tears*
This is FANTASTIC! This post hit me right in the feels because it was filled with so much honest truth, introspection, gratitude and PEACE. In validating yourself it feels like we’ve also been validated in our own lives (perhaps I’m just speaking of myself here).
Because you are our friend/cousin in our collective head and we go together SO strong, I couldn’t be prouder! When you win, we all win because we ride for you! *LuvvNation stand up!*
Congratulations on walking into your season and being unapologetically you whilst doing so! May the blessings continue to rain down upon you!
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
I started following you on Twitter many moons ago. You and Areefuh Stanklin would have my cracking up everyday. Look at you now. I feel like you’re my little sister in my head and I’m so happy, excited and eager to watch the rest of your journey unfold. Thank you for sharing your growth and talents with us. Congratulations, Luvvie!
This is everything, Luvvie!! So, so, so happy for you!! You deserve absolutely everything. You worked for it. Your testimony is powerful! You’re an inspiration to many. Luvv Nation is so proud!!!
I’m legitimately crying right now.
You continue to be an inspiration to so many. I am honored to know you. I can’t wait to get my book signed and watch the rest of this amazing journey you are on.
Congratulations on your successes -and more success to come to you. God is in the blessing business and you will continue to be blessed. This statement right here is the bidness-> I wasn’t someone who previously believed in the vague power of speaking what you want to become reality, until I got the courage to actually talk about my goals and dreams. And I saw them start to come to fruition one by one. I am a super practical Capricorn, but I believe in the power of speaking your visions and making them plain. Sometimes, the universe (God) will surprise you and make them happen.
I am SO proud of you! Hi five…happy dance…face hurt cheesin’ alluhdat! You make me feel like my words aren’t wasted. Like the thinks I speak aren’t slowly drifting to the ground. That the whole universe IS actually conspiring to help me reach whatever I say it will be. I needed this today. Thank you for being obedient. <3
I’ve been following you the last 4 years and this is very inspiring! And well deserved!
Amazing post, got me chills all over. It’s just the beginning! Who knows, maybe one day you’ll have a little Luvvie setting as a goal in life to have her name known by you…
Luvvie- I felt like I lived my dreams with you! Just reading about it got me all giddy inside! You have people praying for you that you’ve never even met before. Keep is going mama! It’s all good and we’re all proud!
On another note, can you share with you got those GORGEOUS mustard colored shoes from Wednesday???? Slide through my DM or Email… IJS
I think you are awesome!! You inspire me and my son!
Why do I feel as though we’ve known each other for years, and jumped double dutch, and harmonized on the stoop in the hot summer after chasing Mister Softie’s Ice Cream truck.
Your words have meaning. Your words have Power.
Speak Life Luvvie Speak Life
thank you for sharing your vision. congrats and can’t wait to read the book. keep doing u
All of this blessed and encouraged me! I am so happy for you and like most of LuvvNation I feel like you are my BFF!! Keep shining!!!
I absolutely love this testimony! So inspiring to read.
This is oh so AMAZING Luvvie. You deserve all of this and some. Keep on keeping on. You’re an inspiration.
Wow! What an awesome testimony and journey. I also found your blog while looking for a scandal recap about two years ago. You were so funny that I subscribed to your emails that day. Your journey is an inspiration to keep believing in our dreams. Congratulations!
So glad for you. Thank you for sharing this. God bless your success.
I needed to read this tonight. I know my purpose and am working towards my goal but sometime I question it all. I’ve just got to keep moving forward.
And it’s been pretty cool watching you flourish over the years. Get it! It’s all well deserved.
Today is my 40th Birthday. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and have been praying and talking with God about what’s next for me for the last several hours. I have huge dreams and big visions and I’ve been scared to even name them because they feel impossible. Thank you for showing me how wrong I am…thank you for reminding me I’ve been gifted by God. Thank you for reminding me that our big God gives big gifts to fuel big dreams and that those gifts make room for us. Thank you for helping me remember with God nothing is impossible.
Hello. Glad to have met you for the first time, this morning. DIVINE CONNECTION! I am a 63 year old grandmother & meeting you unlocked unfulfilled hopes/gifts which allowed me to dream again. As I sat on my bed crying, thinking, This is nothing short of a miracle. Wondering: Can these bones live? Thx you, thx you, thx you!!!!
So so excited/happy/proud. Keep being amazing. We got your back.
So proud of you well deserved. This has me in tears on the bus. Folks looking at me crazy. But they don’t know. Bless your sucess!!
I’ve been following your blog and social networks for years and I’m so proud of how far you’ve come! I’ve already pre-ordered your book and can’t wait to read it. You deserve all the good things manifesting in your life right now. Congrats!
What I DON’T have time for, Miss Luvvie, is to be sittin’ here at this desk with $.86 of my GOOD eyeliner running down my face this morning….and I have a meeting in 8 minutes! You know I only wear my waterproof situation on SPECIAL #okayshuns. Sheesh! I wasn’t ready for this!!
Ma’am, I know I can speak for the rest of our LuvNation when I say we are SOOO proud of you! My heart sang reading this post. I’m just gonna figuratively sit here in my red pumps and watch you SOAR!!!
I am so proud to say I have watched you flourish over the years and I am so proud and happy and excited that you have ARRIVED where you are supposed to be. I feel like a cousin like: YAASSSSSS she is DOING that! Keep doing what you do!!! Can’t wait to see where you go from here.
“I stopped fighting my gifts, I started owning my purpose and I put trust in the Universe/God to order my steps. ” YESSSSSS! Yes to all of this. What an amazing testimony. Like the other commenters before me, I am exceedingly happy for you! Keep walking in that light!
Thank you for listening to the universe. Never stop writing, talking, and living. Thank you for the courage and audacity to keep moving forward despite the hard times. Thank you for sharing your dreams and stories with humor. We are celebrating your gifts and talents. Let us know when you’ll be in the DMV area so I can be front and center.
Speak my dreams. And so it is.
I am so unbelievably proud of you. Your blog has been my source of ke-ke’s and “do not f**** kill me” moments for so long that my day is not complete if I don’t make a luvvnation reference at least once.
Thank you for being you. Being a black nerdy girl was never cool when I was growing up but you existing and succeeding has given me more confidence than I could ever put into words.
You don’t know me, obviously, but I have been following your blog for the last few years – even as I’ve switched jobs. Your site becomes bookmarked on each new work computer that comes my way. I You have saved me from complete and utter boredom quite a-many times. I honestly can’t even recall how I came across your site. But, I remember it in its “infancy” and how it’s been redesigned, etc. etc.
Watching this journey has been really amazing and inspiring. You do your thing, for you, and I always say, people cannot deny authenticity. People respect truth and realness. And that is evident that is how you carry yourself and your following speaks to that.
With all that, I just wanted to say, that even though you do not know me and I am seemingly just a spec on the web, I am truly happy for you and all the successes that continue to come your way.
Keep up the great work.
Thank you Luvvie… *Tears
Wow! I’m so proud of you Queen! Continue to spread love and light on your journey. We are with you, cheering for you, and extremely happy for you. Wishing you many more moments of meaning!
Wow!!! Just wow…… Feels, I have them.
This was just what I needed to hear. I’m not sure what my gifts are but I’m going to keep working.
I know that what is for me is for me and I just have to know and believe that. I will keep blogging and speaking my dreams and working towards them.
Thanks for the inspiration, one day Beverly Bond will speak my name.
Brava, brava, brava! SO earned. SO right. So proud to have been learning and sharing your truth lo, these many years. And to see you urge people to get mentees? Amen. My heart and your karma runneth over.
This entire post is a testament within itself! Doors have been opened for you and it’s refreshing to see that you are opening them for others. I pray God’s blessing over you and your journey!
So happy for you! You bring me so much happiness that if I am sitting on the computer and smiling, my family members ask, “You reading Luvvie?” I sweatergawd!
Pre-ordering your book as soon as I click off here!
<3 Thank you for everything!
I stood on an elevator with Oprah and she touched my hair! I had no idea I was being honored. You’re a star.
I found about you from a local blogger in Kenya and I searched the internet for you.Finally I stumbled on you last tear accidentally. You have become an inspiration. I have not always looked at the internet and social media positively but finding you made me feel ,I could never find such inspiration were it not for online platform. Keep going we may meet some day if not I will keep following you and you will keep inspiring us. Sometimes I look at your blog and think I can never be this funny yet I admire it so much.
this was wonderful. I am so happy for you. I am so proud to have seen you get this far on your journey, and you’ve just begun.
[…] the universe was waiting to hand me this perfect quote above from Luvvie Ajayi which she wrote in a heartwarming post about achieving one of her dreams of interviewing Oprah Winfrey and that full circle moment in her […]
Awwe. So proud of you my dear. Heart of God is the limit. ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
You are such an inspiration. I only started reading your blog a few months ago but I’m constantly giving you the YASSSSSS HONEY after I read a post. So happy that your dreams are coming true. Ordered your book last night. Please stop in Charlotte, NC during your book tour.
Congratulations! so excited to read about your goals and dreams coming to fruition, and for your intentions of going further. You are truly an inspiration.
Much continued success, joy and heart-felt love to you on your journey to GREATNESS in BEING YOU!
So proud of you Luvvie! Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I’m so inspired!
Bawwwwling my eyes out. I remember taking a social media/blogging seminar with you at BlogHer two years ago. You were so humble, sweet and LUVVING. Thank you for being a constant inspiration and for being true to you. We are all winning because of it.
So very proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished. I look forward to seeing more things from you. Oh and btw thank you for this post there were some things that you said, that I needed to hear.
Ol’ gyal, how far? I just wan say congrats ooo. I been dey lurk for sometime now and then for some reason I read ya Oprah piece after this yeye week wey dem dey kill black folks as per usual for hia. Congrats ooo. Your site, your twitter, your Facebook, your old vids, etc dey give me strength to go work go heal people minds. Even wen dem dey entitled. Even when dem no see you as human. Even when demselves know fit understand. Thank you. You done arrive but de journey never finish.
A fellow Niajan.
Even though I’m almost a month late to seeing this post, it was sooo good and I felt good reading about your justly titled epic week. It’s very motivating to see you reflect on your past and path that got you where you are and where you are going. Prayers going up for more blessings to come down for you and your hard work.
Keep spreading that Black Girl Magic…..Peace and Blessing Sis and continued success with whatever you touch.