Thursday, September 23, 2021
Oprah keeps it unpresidential in address to California grads
By AP News
Published May 17, 2018

Oprah Winfrey speaks to graduates at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the Shrine Auditorium on Friday, May 11, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Oprah Winfrey paused before talking politics Friday as she stood in front of a crowd of graduates at the University of Southern California.

Then she decided it was safe.

“The rumors from my last big speech have finally died down,” she said to laughter and applause.


That speech at the Golden Globe Awards in January, full of fiery rhetoric on the fight for justice and the (hash)MeToo movement, brought weeks of chatter about a presidential run for the 64-year-old media magnate and movie star that she has since dismissed.

“The misogyny needs to stop!” she shouted at one similar moment during Friday’s commencement address to graduates of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

She also mentioned electoral activism, gun control and climate change, but kept it far more casual and apolitical than at the Golden Globes, mostly sticking with more standard inspirational fare.

She emphasized the importance of public service and asked the future journalists and public communicators to be warriors for truth in a time of rampant misinformation.

“The truth exonerates, and it convicts,” she said. “It disinfects, and it galvanizes. The truth has always been and will always be our shield against corruption, our shield against greed and despair. The truth is our saving grace.”

Winfrey had an answer for those who wondered why she was speaking at this smaller, satellite commencement ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium instead of the school’s main ceremony, where stars of her caliber usually speak.


“I was going to be here anyway,” she said.

Thando Dlomo, one of Winfrey’s “daughter-girls,” whom Winfrey has mentored and sponsored since meeting her on a trip to South Africa when she the girl was in seventh grade, was in the crowd getting a master’s degree in journalism.

“I was looking for smart, bright, giving, resilient, kind, open-hearted, girls who had `it,’ that factor that means you keep going no matter what,” Winfrey said. “She came in and recited a poem about her teacher, and when she left I said `she’s got it.”’

Winfrey wound down with some ordinary life tips, including:

_ “Eat a good breakfast. It really pays off.”

_ “Put your phone down at the dinner table.”

_ “Know that what you tweet, post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow or 20 years from tomorrow.”

_ “Invest in a quality mattress.”

_ “Don’t cheap out on your shoes.”

Wearing black gown and bright red hood, Winfrey led the graduates into the auditorium along with the school’s dean, Willow Bay, as the USC marching band played its fight songs.

Those on the dais with her included Bay’s husband, Disney CEO Robert Iger, who in Winfrey’s presence had a rare moment where he wasn’t the richest person in the room.

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