Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential and successful media personalities in the world. She has inspired millions of people with her talk show, her network, her magazine, her book club, and her philanthropy. But who inspired Oprah? One of the most important figures in Oprah’s life was Maya Angelou, the legendary poet, author, and civil rights activist. Many people have wondered if Maya Angelou was related to Oprah Winfrey, as they seemed to share a deep and lasting connection. The answer is no, they were not biologically related, but they were more than friends. They were mentor and mentee, mother and daughter, sister and sister.
How Oprah Met Maya
Oprah Winfrey’s friendship with Maya Angelou began in her 20s, when Oprah was a reporter at the beginning of her career and had the opportunity to interview the poet. At this time, Oprah had already felt the life-affirming power of reading Angelou’s poetry. She had been moved by Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which chronicled her childhood of trauma and resilience. Oprah felt a kinship with Angelou, as they both had endured abuse, poverty, and racism in their lives.
The interview was a turning point for Oprah, as she realized that Angelou was not only a brilliant writer, but also a wise and compassionate teacher. Angelou gave Oprah advice on how to live authentically, how to love herself, and how to deal with criticism. She also encouraged Oprah to pursue her dreams and to use her platform for good. Oprah was so impressed by Angelou that she invited her to be a guest on her talk show many times over the years. She also visited Angelou at her home in North Carolina, where they would have long conversations over meals and drinks.
What Maya Taught Oprah
Oprah Winfrey has often described Maya Angelou as her mentor, mother-sister, and friend. She has credited Angelou for teaching her many valuable lessons that shaped her personal and professional growth. Some of these lessons include:
- When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. This is one of Oprah’s favorite quotes from Angelou, which helped her avoid toxic relationships and trust her intuition.
- You are enough. Angelou taught Oprah that she did not need anyone or anything to make her whole, as she was already complete and worthy of love.
- Be grateful for every moment. Angelou showed Oprah how to appreciate the beauty and joy of life, even in the midst of challenges and pain.
- Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Angelou inspired Oprah to use her influence and resources to help others in need, especially women and children.
- Courage is the most important virtue. Angelou demonstrated to Oprah how to face fear and adversity with courage and dignity.
How Oprah Honored Maya
Maya Angelou passed away in 2014 at the age of 86. Oprah Winfrey was devastated by the loss of her beloved friend, but she also celebrated her legacy and impact on the world. She organized a star-studded memorial service for Angelou at Wake Forest University, where Angelou had taught for many years. She also dedicated several episodes of her network shows to honor Angelou’s life and work. She also unveiled a portrait of Angelou at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., where she shared some of her fondest memories of their friendship.
Oprah Winfrey continues to pay tribute to Maya Angelou by living according to her teachings and by sharing them with others. She has named one of the schools she founded in South Africa after Angelou, as well as one of the buildings at her network headquarters. She has also donated millions of dollars to various causes that Angelou supported, such as literacy, education, arts, and human rights. She has also published several books that feature Angelou’s poems and quotes.
Is Maya Angelou related to Oprah Winfrey? No, but they were more than family. They were soulmates who enriched each other’s lives with love, wisdom, and grace. They were two phenomenal women who changed the world with their words and deeds.