When I first met Oprah Winfrey, I was an extra on the set of a movie she was producing, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I was telling jokes and making the other extras laugh when Oprah walked by and said, “You’re really funny. What’s your name?” She told me to keep her updated on my career. So I wrote her all these letters, and she never wrote me back.
Then she surprised me on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February. When she walked onstage, my soul was overjoyed. That was everything. It made me feel like I’m on the right track, and it inspired me to push even harder.
I’ve been watching Oprah since I was 7. In my eyes, she’s my auntie. I call her Auntie O. I remember coming home from school, putting on The Oprah Winfrey Show and feeling like I could achieve anything I put my mind to. Oprah had the roughest childhood and has gone through all these difficulties. But no matter what, she stays focused on her goals and achieves them. She made her dreams come true. And because I watched her, I did too.
Haddish is an actor, comedian and best-selling author