Photo: George Burns
1. My home address. But I'm not printing it here. Nice try, Oprah.
2. I know that "personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open." And I know that for sure because I read it on the sign at the dry cleaner's.
3. I forgot what number 3 is.
4. Sometimes I forget things.
5. I'm sure I'm good at making lists.
By the way, I should point out that there are things I know for sure and things I don't know for sure. Also, there are things I wish I never knew. Like did you ever see that Primetime report about hotel rooms and what's on the bedspreads? Exactly.
Actually, there's nothing I know for sure because I know for sure that things change.
For a long time I thought I knew for sure who I was. I grew up in New Orleans and became a comedian. And there was everything that came along with that. The nightclubs. The smoking. The drinking. Then I turned 13.
While I was doing stand-up, I thought I knew for sure that success meant getting everyone to like me. So I became whoever I thought people wanted me to be. I'd say yes when I wanted to say no, and I even wore a few dresses.* And it worked. I got my own sitcom.**
The show was very successful. I had everything I'd hoped for, but I wasn't being myself. So I decided to be honest about who I was. It was strange: The people who loved me for being funny suddenly didn't like me for being…me.
I had a really tough time for a few years. My show was gone. My phone wasn't ringing. There wasn't one job offer. And at that point, I thought I knew for sure that I wouldn't work in Hollywood again.
Eventually, I decided to go back to how I started my career, and I wrote an HBO special. Then I got my talk show. And look at me now… I'm on the cover of O . And that's the highest honor we give in this country.
I know for sure I would never change any of the hard times I went through in my life. Because it was in those times that I grew the most and gained the most perspective.
It's our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting. Are they fun when they happen? No. But they are what make us unique. And that's what I know for sure…I think.
* See page 272 in the December issue of O
** Ellen , now available on DVD from Amazon.com or wherever DVDs are sold.
See the O covers featuring Ellen and vote for your favorite!
From the December 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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