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Words of Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey, Backstage at Golden Globes

Oprah Winfrey had plenty of wisdom to dispense when she came backstage Sunday night at the Golden Globes after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award for life achievement from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Here are five things Winfrey said while reflecting on her historic recognition as the first African-American woman to be handed the DeMille kudo.

1. Oprah’s greatest lesson came from her friend and mentor Maya Angelou. “She said ‘Baby you need to know when people show you who they are that you believe them the first time.”

2. She had a tip for how to make it in showbiz, or any vocation, for that matter. “Do the work that comes straight from the soul of you,” she said. For those in the business of storytelling, that means taking on “the stories that you not just yearn to tell, but if you don’t tell them, they don’t get told.”

3. Moreover, “the key to fulfillment, success, happiness, and contentment in life is when you align your personality with what your soul actually came to do,” Winfrey said. “When you can use your personality to serve whatever that thing is, you can’t help but be successful.”

4. There is no greater gift than bearing witness to another person. “You have no idea the power of noticing another human being and what it feels like when somebody has truly been seen by you,” she said. “It’s the greatest gift you can ever give. … Recognizing that in other people has helped me to become a person of compassion, a person who can interview any person about anything.”

5. Harnessing “the reckoning” about sexual harassment during the past few months as a force for long-term change. The $15 million legal defense fund assembled by Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, and many others is a big step in the right director. “With every day’s revelation, I thought, ‘Here is an opportunity for something really powerful.’ How do we use this moment to elevate what is happening instead of continually victimizing ourselves? I think that wearing black in solidarity is one step. What Time’s Up is doing with the legal defense fund is a major step.”

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