Wednesday, August 26

dear oprah

To Miss Oprah,

So I heard you are coming. Miss Oprah Winfrey is coming to my hometown of Toronto. I can't help but think that I called you here- that my vibrations were that strong that the universe has now conspired to bring you here.
Because Oprah, you and me go way back. Longer than you know. You see, I used to rush home in grade six to a cramped apartment to watch you every day. The first black woman that I ever saw on t.v. I ate you up because you had a nose like me, skin like me, chubby like me, and I would like to say hair like me, but even to this day, I never ever managed to achieve the Oprah hair! It moved when you walked! Oprah's hair did for black women, what the moonwalk did for dance, took it to another level. But I digress, you see, it's been over twenty years since I first saw you with that microphone in your hand and I knew that it was possible for me to be on t.v because there you were! A black woman like me, revolutionizing t.v- and so it began. I got my first job at Olive Garden and promptly told them I couldn't work between the hours of 4pm and 5pm because I had to be home to watch Oprah. This led to my nickname, Oprah. Everyone on staff began to call me that. And I felt proud. Felt closer to you. At nights, I would practice in front of the mirror with a brush, interviewing imaginary guests. I also had my outfit picked out for when we would meet, and saw clearly in my mind, me being on stage with you. I also then started the first of many writing campaigns to you. Weekly letters to you. The good old-fashioned way by post. First, in white envelopes and then, after months of not hearing from you, I thought I would change my strategy and send them in fluorescent bright pink or green envelopes. Still no word. Then one day, you did a show about how much mail you received each day and then your "helpers" brought in huge hefty garbage bags over-pouring with mail to prove to your audience how many letters you get each day. I got discouraged, pressed my nose to the screen to see if I could somehow manage to pick out one of my pink envelopes, but no luck. Weeks, months, years went by and I kept writing. Not as often, but I kept writing. My Mom and Gran would ask me weekly, "any news from Oprah?" It was a simple fact in all our lives that one day you would be coming. When I was on the treadmill I would imagine that you would burst through the door with your camera crew and say, "trey anthony, Oprah Winfrey here!" And I would burst into tears. So even now on the treadmill I always try to not sweat too hard just in case you're coming and God knows my hair better be on point! Years ago when I heard you were casting for 'Beloved', I packed up my stuff and drove to Chicago. I headed down to your studios. I needed to be in this movie! I camped out at your studio hoping to catch a glimpse of you. I gave another pink precious fluorescent envelope to your security who passed it on to one of your producers- Brian... something or other.... who actually called me. I told him my story and he couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe that I had driven from Toronto, Canada to come and see if I could get a part in 'Beloved' and he told me to get in touch with Johnathan Demme's office, who was the director of 'Beloved'. He gave me the number and wished me best of luck and Brian was one of the
nicest people I had come across in a long time. I felt I was steps away from you. I left Chicago, feeling I had accomplished something. I wrote a letter to director Johnathan Demme, I even managed to speak to his assistant who was so amazed by my persistence that she offered me an audition- via tape! Six word line, "Child, that's your mother over there!" I practised and practised, but I didn't get the part. Got a nice response that said, "better luck next time kid!"
But I kept trying. During all of this, I wrote the hit play 'da Kink In My Hair, which received international critical acclaim. Won awards, including four NAACP awards, sold out houses, broke box office records! Critics called me, "The Oprah of the theatre world!" I was so proud. It was my best review and I loved it, to see my name linked to yours in print! I became the first Black Canadian woman to ever co-executive produce an all African Canadian show on a prime time Canadian network! I now have little girls rushing home to watch me on t.v and I always think to myself, "Oprah would be so proud". I only thought it was possible for a girl who looked liked me to be on t.v because I used to watch you on t.v every day. So I thank you. Sincerely thank you. Because you inspired me from a distance. Changed my life. Made impossible dreams possible. I am crying as I write this because it's so true. In my darkest moments when I wanted to give up, I would think if Oprah made it, I can too.
Miss Winfrey, I talk to you constantly. I've had conversations with you in my mind. Anytime I had an important decision to make, I would say, "What would Oprah do?" Over the years, I kept writing to you. Every interview I have done on t.v, radio or print, I have mentioned you. And I kept writing, by email now, no more pink fluorescent envelopes. And now I get standard emails back from you saying, "Oprah thanks you for writing" and Mom and Gran continue to ask, "Any news from Oprah?" Because we all know you will come one day.

So I started a campaign on Facebook, the Women of 'da Kink Should Meet Oprah. Your affiliated network Oxygen even sponsored 'da Kink when it went to San Diego, this production was nominated for five NAACP theatre awards and we won four! At the award ceremony in Los Angeles people again said to me, Oprah would love this play and again I felt six degrees of separation. I knew I was close, but I felt I needed to be more proactive. So four months ago, I went to Chicago. This time I could afford to fly. If the mountain won't go to Mohammed, Mohammed would go to the mountain. My sole intentions: to bring 'da Kink theatrical play to Chicago. My belief, that it is time that I bring the play to you. I met with theatre folks including the Goodman Theatre and the "talks" have now begun. 'da Kink may be in Chicago very soon and I feel once again one step away from meeting you.

People everywhere keep saying, "Girl, I see you on Oprah. Oprah would love 'da Kink". Now you're coming! Coming to my city. I can't breathe... I can't sleep. I believe I called you here. I truly believe that what you focus on will manifest itself in your life. I have focused on you for too many years for this to be a coincidence. God is working with me. I sense you. I see it. I believe it. This is the closest I have ever been, the closest to a dream come true. And I'm saying to you Miss Oprah Winfrey, boldly saying, I want to meet you- I think it's about time.


Ian Andre Espinet said...


So years and years back, when I was coming up, I used to get these emails from this girl. She did comedy shows and I would read her emails each and every time they'd come to my inbox, and track her progress.

Oh... writing for Kenny Robinson. Oh... Womyn's Comedy Festival. It was the first time I had ever seen it spelt like that and so I googled (or whatever the equivalent was back then) to find out the meaning. OH. How brave in these times. Good for you...

A play? In a festival... DOOOOPE. I sent an email to her, my kin - who Dwayne Morgan told me was the same age as us, to provide any assistance possible through my now growing entertainment email list. She replied and I gave away tickets...

And oh the little black girl grows... Years would pass and the emails would stop coming... first slowly, then completely, but the newspapers and buzz wouldn't. The Kink in My Hair... The Kink in My Hair. First in ummm... the something or other "People's Theatre" or something... I went. Then I heard word (if revisionist history doesn't bite me) that Ed Mirvish's son had been... I would soon hear that my friend Jully Black, my kin was cast. And I put it all in my email. Proud.

And I went... that Thursday with the reduced pricing. And Jem would talk about it... And Jem would talk about Rachel talking about it. My kin. And the little black girl grows... "She's moving to LA"... and Jem and Rachel are going to be in a play... and I put it in my email. And went to the Harbourfront Centre. Both nights. Proud of them.

The kink is going to Global. In every email and facebook blast p.s. to my faithful listeners who follow my passionate lead...

I speak of my kin... finally the firsts of our group - the Russell Peters, the Jully Blacks, the Jems, the Dwayne Morgans... The Dr. Jays, the Luther Browns, the Kardinals...
And like a picture, I superimpose myself at the bottom of the group - the Ian Andre Espinets...

So somehow today, I wandered on to your note to Oprah. I think I should start a group. I think, I too should meet YOU. I too am bold - Canada's leader in nightlife entertainment - a legend in my own light... responsible in whole or in part for every major event in Toronto nightclub entertainment in the last 10 years... The party turned album on Universal music that is the movement called Amnesia that celebrates 10 years over 2 days this September and has hosted legends of music from our own Michee's, Maestro's and Dream Warriors to MC Lyte, Naughty by Nature and Lisa Lisa... the official wrap party for Kink at Soul Kitchen, which has too seen it's share of Soul Singers, from Glenn Lewis to Dwele to Jon B, Tevin Campbell and Case. Yes. Google me.

I think it's time that I meet you too... not for any reason - not for business, or to pitch anything... not because I think you can do anything for me or because I've heard the rumour that you're rich... but simply to be inspired by one who is spoken so highly of by my close friend Jem... and by so many others... To be - as I am - excellent, in the presence of excellence and inspired - even moreso than I've been by someone I've tracked but never met properly.

I think it's time. No?

Ian Andre Espinet

p.s. I wasn't joking about googling me. lol.

truthaccordingtotrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal 'Clear' Coburn said...

You deserve this Trey. You truly do. And I hope and wish that this piece of the puzzle does find its way into your life. It is about time.

Ian Andre Espinet said...

Got it... Plaitform Entertainment. It was going to bother me all night.


Raffaella said...

Hey trey,
Truly inspirational, It gave me goose bumps reading this. You brought me back 20 years and gave me that feeling in the pit of my stomach from the excitement you expressed. Loved it! I believe it will happen. I wonder if back then Oprah had any Idea that what she was doing would make a child realize nothing is impossible.

jemeni said...

Dear Trey,
Black Girls,

Whoever is reading this, being touched by this, supporting this thinking this to fruition, Im adding my positive thought, energy light and belief. ;0)
I share the love of Oprah and like Ian mentioned talk about her often (like EVERY black girl does lol) she's like my best friend/Momma in a conversation where if someone says one wrong thing the earrings come off. Tre you should meet Oprah. Why not! Youve done the work, called her here, told Olive Garden what was up.
its going to happen.