Celebrating the Inspiring Gift of Oprah on Her Birthday

Happy Birthday, Lady O!

Oh, what a life and force. How is it that someone I’ve never met feels like a sister-mother-auntie-friend who helped raised me? Growing up on welfare in South Sacramento, I tuned in at 4 p.m. every Monday through Friday like a ritual to watch “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” hoping to learn life lessons and peek into the lives of people I didn’t know existed — as though it was a window to my best and highest self.

Oprah’s gift of lifting people and her impeccable communication skills were mesmerizing. I couldn’t decipher whether she was reading the prompter or going off the cuff — it felt like she was speaking directly to you.

I watched every episode, enamored by her ability to relate soul-to-soul, no matter whom she was speaking with — be it Beyoncé, George W. Bush or a bra whisperer.

Speaking of, why would a Chinese-American tween boy watch a show about a bra whisperer? (I have never wanted to wear a brassiere — nothing wrong if you’re a boy reading this and desire to wear one.) Oprah could connect the dots between you and me and a once-struggling entrepreneur who became the billionaire of spanks, while sharing the wisdom of how to choose the right bra, no matter how big or small your “girls” are.

Whatever the show topic, the queen of talk was able to lift my spirits and shift my perspective on the challenges I was going through.

There is a truth and vulnerability that shines through her own jagged story that has resonated with me and millions of viewers around the world. As an ode to Oprah on her special day today, I revisited a blog I wrote a couple of years ago.

In the post, I recounted Oprah’s awe-inspiring speech during the 2018 Golden Globes after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. I still get goose bumps listening to her words and energy, full force, calling for a “new day on the horizon,” and inspiring us all to speak our truth, which she preached “is our most powerful tool.”

There hasn’t been a speech that moved me like that until Amanda Gorman spoke at the 2021 Inauguration last week.

Oprah has inspired me to fully live and be my truth, which, to be real, is still a work in progress. I’m not completely sure of all the ways in which she’s impacted and illuminated my life, but I know she has helped me and many other brothers, sisters, moms, dads, cousins and grandparents be more aware of the biggest gift of life, which is giving the gift of yourself. I’ve learned that sharing your natural gifts is truly our most powerful tool.

I also took a look back at another post I wrote about how Oprah helped me and other high school and college graduates design a life that is true to all of us.

How has Oprah inspired your best self? I want to know. Tag me @toanlamtv and @Oprah while you’re at it.

Happy birthday and cheers to many more years of talking my fellow Mama, Auntie, Sister, Friend and Aquarius!