Oprah Winfrey may not be on TV every day anymore, but her influence is still vast. Her OWN Network has increased viewership with popular reality TV shows like Welcome to Sweetie Pies and scripted shows like Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots. Oprah’s Next Chapter, her weekly interview show, has attracted guests from Beyonce to John Legend and O Magazine is still one of the nation’s top publications, with a circulation of over 2 million.
Her school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school in South Africa, has now been open for over 7 years, sending many of its graduates to schools in the U.S. Winfrey just returned from a visit to the school, one of three she makes each year.
“I go over once a year. Actually, I end up going over three times a year at the school and once a year I go over to teach what I call Life 101, y’all, which is all the things I wish someone had taught me before I graduated either high school or college, “she told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “I try to cram that all into one week.”
One of the most powerful lessons Winfrey teaches the girls is to take charge of their own lives.
“You’re responsible for your life. Don’t go around blaming other people for things that happened to you. The same thing that Glinda told Dorothy when she went up and down that yellow brick road. You have the power and you don’t have any power in anybody else’s territory, so just manage your own.”
Winfrey hopes to encourage the same during her ‘Life You Want’ weekends, which take place in selected locations around the country from September 5 to November 15th. She’ll be joined by many familiar faces including Iyanla Vanzant and Deepak Chopra.
“Did they ever ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I always thought I was going to be something like Martin Luther King, but I didn’t know what that was. I had a vision of being onstage speaking to people so the fact that this actually starts with a tour that I’m doing September 5th in Atlanta – The Life You Want – it feels like one of those destiny moments for me. My whole life I thought I’d be doing something like that.”
Part of what she hopes to impart during the weekend is that everyone has an internal guidance system that nudges them toward their true purpose in life.
“This is what I try to teach my girls – inside everybody there’s that thing that early on you start to feel for yourself. For me, it was like my grandmother saying ‘You better watch me hanging these clothes on the line ‘cause you’re going to be doing this one day’ and me thinking ‘Nah, I don’t think I’m going to be doing that.’ As we all know with grandmothers, you keep that to yourself.”
Joining Vanzant and Chopra will be author Elizabeth Gilbert [Eat, Pray, Love] Pastor Rob Bell andAmy Purdy, the double amputee and Paralympian who competed on Dancing With the Stars. Purdy will be there to select ‘game changers’ who’ve made a difference in their communities.
“It’s a whole team of all these people that I’ve worked with before on The Oprah Show, off The Oprah Show who will be part of helping people step into their own best life,” Winfrey says.
As for her own best life, Winfrey says she’s fine that it no longer includes the daily TV talk show that she helmed for 25 years. Now 60, she’s happy with the new route she’s chosen.
I don’t miss the everyday-ness, I don’t miss having to come up with a new show every day. You’re only as good as today. I don’t miss that,” she says.
“I miss the platform, I miss be able to say something and 10 million people hear it, so you don’t have to keep trying to say it. I really feel that I wanted the show to go out when it’s on top and not stay in the ring longer than I needed to. I didn’t want to be one of those people that gets dragged out.”
The Life You Want Weekend begins September 5 in Atlanta, running through November 15.