Oprah has revealed her most memorable moments...now it's the viewers' turn!
Oprah and Tracey first met almost 20 years ago when Tracey was a teen star of the hit sitcom Growing Pains. At that time, no one knew Tracey was hiding a life-threatening illness—she was anorexic. In 1994, Tracey returned to the show to discuss her eating disorder and to help others suffering from this disease. Then, in 2002, Oprah invited Tracey back to talk about child safety, after Tracey's own son nearly drowned in a backyard swimming pool.
Tracey says her most difficult Oprah Show interview was in May 2005—just a few months after being arrested for drunk driving. The arrest came after a highly publicized car crash that left her husband and two young sons injured.
When Tracey came to this realization on The Oprah Show, she says she had a life-changing "Aha!" moment. "I look at it like nobody can ever make me do something I don't want to do anymore, because ultimately, I pay the price," she says. "I'm responsible for all my decisions."
Tracey's story proved to Yvonne that accidents do happen...even if you've only had a drink or two. After watching the show, Yvonne says she made a promise to her daughter never to drink and drive again.
Yvonne wants to thank Tracey for sharing her "Aha!" moment with millions of viewers. "It was so brave," Yvonne tells Tracey. "It made it possible for me to recognize my weaknesses and what I need to change."
Last Christmas, Steve says his wife Kelly put Oprah's DVD on her wish list, and although he was embarrassed to be seen buying it, he got her the six-disc collection. "She was excited to have it, and then the words came...the ones I didn't want to hear," Steve remembers. "'Hey honey, you want to watch Oprah with me?' I thought, 'Oh crud. No, I don't.'"
Kelly put in the first disc, and before long, Steve was hooked. "There are so many things on it that were so touching—that were beneficial to me," he says. "I thought, 'Wow, that's good stuff!'"
Even when Kelly left to run errands, Steve continued to watch. When she came home from the grocery store, she caught him on the couch—with a beer—watching Oprah!
One Oprah moment really caught Steve's attention. In the clip, author Toni Morrison asks parents an important question: "When a kid walks in the room—your child, or anybody else's child—does your face light up?"
Now, when Steve picks his children up at school, "I try to light up and consciously think, 'What does your face look like when you go into that classroom?'" he says. "I want them to see how proud [I am] that they're there—how much [I] love them.""
What else did Steve learn from watching Oprah? Kelly says Steve now uses "Oprahisms"—like "Aha! moment"—around the house!
In the clip, Oprah surprises Nancy, one of Tom Cruise's biggest fans, with news that she'll be meeting Tom at an upcoming Oprah Show. Nancy's stunned reaction brings Erika to tears...of joy!
"Every time I watch it, I find something new to laugh about," Erika says.
After the tragedy, Leilani says her grief was so intense, she considered taking her own life. "There was a pain," she remembers. "[It was] like a dark hole surrounded me...no one could get to me, and I could get to no one."
The one person who made Leilani feel less alone was Kathy Bray, a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1989. Since that show, Leilani has never forgotten Kathy's story...and neither has Oprah.
Leilani was amazed that Kathy could speak about such a painful topic when her emotions were still so raw. For the first time, Leilani says she felt like someone understood her pain. "If she can do it, I can do it," Leilani remembers thinking. "She was able to say something to the world, and I'm sure she helped a lot of people—she helped me. ... It helped me to go on with my life and to stop worrying about trying to stop the pain by trying to kill myself."
"Her story hit me right where it hurts," Leilani says. "I immediately felt everything that she could possibly feel. ... The show reminded me that there is life after the death of a child. There's a lot of pain, but you can live."
Leilani isn't the only person who has remembered Kathy all these years. Oprah says she always knew Kathy's raw emotion and strength would be inspirational for grieving mothers.
"I could feel that your message was so pure, so strong, so real that it was going to reach other people," Oprah says to Kathy. "I didn't know your name, Leilani, but [I knew] that somebody would be watching who would find strength from your strength."
During one scene, Oprah is cooking breakfast over an open fire, and Gayle asks Oprah to make her bacon "extra crispy." Oprah shoots Gayle a look and replies, "This is not a restaurant!"
"That look you gave her was classic!" Steven tells Oprah.
Sandra says that though she loved singing and acting, she was timid and shy as a child. "I think for so many of us as young girls," she says, "if you have a dream, there's still that little voice inside that says, 'Who do you think you are? What makes you think you're so special that you could do something that big?'"
Sandra says she always turned to The Oprah Winfrey Show for inspiration when she felt that her dream was unreachable. Oprah, Sandra says, "knows who she is and she's not afraid to stand in her power. And that was such an inspiration to me that I actually dared to believe that I could do great things."
"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."
Joni says people still recognize her as the "shoe girl." Once, she was driving and got pulled over by a police officer when she realized that she'd left her license at work. "When I pulled over it was a lady police officer," Joni says. "She looked over and said, 'Shoe girl!'"
Monica says she was always overweight growing up and went on her first diet when she was just 10 years old. "It was very hard growing up as a fat child, as a fat teenager," she says. "I was depressed. Anytime anybody calls you a name, it just eats away at you. You get to a point where you just think, 'This is who I am. This is how I'm meant to be.'
Monica says that she related to all of the issues Stacey highlighted. "I was just amazed that someone would actually be that brutally honest about weight issues," Monica says. "I would internalize all of that."
Years later Monica had reached 360 pounds, was always tired, suffered from diabetes and was considering gastric bypass surgery. Around this time, Stacey returned to The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss her own experience with gastric bypass.
Stacey provided a lightbulb moment for both Oprah and Monica about gastric bypass. The surgery, she explained, is not the end; it's the beginning. "You still have to continue to eat healthfully and exercise," Monica explains. After seeing Stacey's life after gastric bypass, Monica finally decided to undergo the surgery herself.
On her postsurgery show, Stacey also mentioned that she loved theater, but her weight had prevented her from attending any shows. Monica's sister Sandra invited her to a performance of Phantom of the Opera at the same time Monica was in town. The two met just three weeks before Monica's surgery.
"She was fantastic," Monica says. "She was so encouraging and sweet and really just gave me the courage to face what I had to face."
A year after her surgery, Monica has lost 125 pounds.
"When I met you a year ago, I looked into your eyes and I saw so much of myself. I saw the pain. And I saw the willingness to do whatever it was going to take to make it. I'm here to give you a message today that I am so passionate about. I know you might think that the hard work is over, but the truth is the hard work is just beginning. I'm here to tell you three and a half years down the road, it is so worth it, Monica. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm so proud of you and I will be waiting for you at the finish line, girl. You look gorgeous."
Doctors told her the only chance for her survival was invasive surgery that would most likely disfigure her face. "I guess I kind of figured I was going to come out looking like my old self," Elizabeth says. "I was kind of shocked I didn't."
"I'd go out with my friends all the time and I'd come home crying because I wasn't as pretty as they were," Elizabeth says. "But my story had nothing on Jacqui's. She lived through so much more and she seemed to have such a positive outlook... A lot more positive than I was at the time."
Oprah says Jacqui also profoundly moved her. "I write a lot about beauty, inner beauty and so forth," she says. "It's really easy to talk about inner beauty when you're not disfigured. But Jacqui was the first person I'd ever met who looked like that who really had it. Her view of herself was as strong as anybody I've ever seen on a runway."
Mattie, who started writing poetry at age 3, was one of Oprah's dearest friends. He taught her to always "play after every storm" and touched millions of lives with his courage and wisdom. He expressed his message of peace and understanding in a collection of poems called Heartsongs.
A "heartsong," he explained, "was the song in my heart. It was the message in my heart. A heartsong doesn't have to be a song in your heart even talking about love and peace. It can just be your message. It can be your feelings."
In March 2004, Mattie's condition again worsened, and he never recovered. Mattie lost his battle with muscular dystrophy at just 13 years old but his positive message lives on and continues to inspire millions.
While Utpal was watching Oprah's 20th Anniversary DVD collection, he saw Mattie for the first time. "He just blew my mind," Utpal says. "If I just had read his words, it was like some wise old man. He was a 13-year-old boy in this frail little body, but his spirit and his mind were so strong."
Utpal says that Mattie's thoughtful words have inspired him in trying times. "This boy who knew his destiny, who knew what was going to happen to him, kept going on," Utpal says. "He tried to make the world a better place for everybody else regardless of his problems."
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