Oprah: When I met you, I remember feeling, "I want some of that." Not so much to look like you, but to have that energy that spoke to me of your womanness. Are you aware of your womanness?

Camille: I am more aware of it now. I became keenly aware of myself in my mid-thirties. I went through a transition. I decided to go back to school, because I had dropped out of college to marry Bill when I was 19. I had five children, and I decided to go back.

Oprah: Because?

Camille: Because I didn't feel fulfilled educationally. I dropped out of school at the end of my sophomore year. So I went back, and when I did, my self-esteem grew. I got my master's, then decided to get my doctoral degree. Education helped me to come out of myself, to come out of the home, because I had been raising my children. Not that that is a bad thing; it is the most difficult job I have ever had. But that was just one part of my womanness. I had to fulfill myself in other ways, to pursue my interests, to know that I could do many things.

Oprah: What was it about you that didn't allow you to settle for being Mrs. Bill Cosby? Because there are lots of women who would have been happy with what that brings.

Camille: I don't know exactly what it was, except that for me, integrity is important. For me friendships are important, family is important, and it is a blessing if we can have monetary benefits. That's wonderful, and I love it. But I have to have the security of people who really care about me, and me about them. I want to be surrounded by people who have integrity. And, of course, my name is Camille, not Bill.

Oprah: Was the education to make yourself smarter? Did you feel that you had been "faking it"?

Camille: Looking back on those years, I don't think that I thought I was smart. I knew I was a good mother, but I didn't think that I was smart in terms of having something to say if Bill and I were seated with a group of people who were busy doing their different things. I always said, "My husband is the public person. He is the one who has something to say." I never felt I had anything to contribute, something that people would want to hear.

Oprah: Did you ever feel you were living in Bill's shadow?

Camille: I never felt overshadowed, but I looked up to Bill. He is seven years older than I, and he has always had a maturity, even when he was 26, when we married. So I respected his wisdom and his knowledge....

My life changed drastically when I married Bill; life changed for him too. Shortly after we married, his career was catapulted by [the sixties hit TV show] I Spy. So all of a sudden, we were out there, and I had so much to address, as Bill did. It was quite a beginning for two married people. As I look back, some of it is rather surreal. I think I was overwhelmed by all of it.


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