After 22 days in South Africa celebrating the opening of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Reggie Wells joins Gayle to reminisce about the trip! Oprah's makeup artist and longtime friend, Reggie says the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From the welcome party, to the safari, to the New Year's Eve celebration, to the school's ribbon-cutting ceremony, Reggie says he was touched and inspired by the events.
"I'd seen the school before, but you know what made it so amazing this time? It was a finished sort of look," Reggie says. "When those girls were on the stage, I was boo-hooing. … It was so amazing when you saw all those girls sitting in their uniforms."
Reggie says he was hurt and offended when he heard recent backlash in the media against Oprah's work in South Africa. Some have suggested she should have spent her money in the United States rather than in a foreign country. "I don't let people talk like that about her in front of me," Reggie says. "I don't allow that. My response is, 'Don't ever say anything about anybody until you walk in their shoes.'"
Reggie says the entire experience has changed him—in fact, he has since committed to sponsoring three young South African men and will be paying the $500-per-year tuition it will cost for each of them to attend hotel management classes. Reggie met two of the men one evening at dinner when they waited on him. "When I found out those guys [made] $50 a week, I was taken aback. [They] work 15 to 16 hours a day."
Reggie says Oprah's generosity is contagious and inspiring. "It's a wonderful thing that's happening," he says. "I feel when Oprah does something, everybody gets excited. We can do as much as anybody else can. We can't do as big as Oprah, but we can do the small things."