Joni in 1997


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One episode in particular always stuck with Sandra. In 1997, Joni was an audience member at The Oprah Show. She told a story about how she bought a pair of Oprah's shoes at an auction. Joni explained that when she felt depressed and couldn't stand on her own...she would stand in Oprah's shoes. An emotional Oprah finished Joni's thought those many years ago, "To make herself feel better, she would stand in my she says she doesn't have to stand in the shoes as much because she's standing on her own."

"It just kills me because I said that's what I'd do," Sandra says. "Whenever I needed courage that I couldn't muster on my own, I would always find my 'inner Oprah.' Strong, confident, courageous, successful."

Channeling her "inner Oprah" has certainly paid off for Sandra. She's been starring as Christine in Phantom of the Opera for the past 10 years. "I remember Oprah saying, 'God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can for yourself'," she says. "I'm still pinching myself every day."


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