Oprah's Approval = Priceless

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Sep. 21 2009, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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Oprah Winfrey is met with pleas for help during the Toronto International Film Festival press conference for the film Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire, which she executive produced.

Kissing Sapphire on the cheek, the talk show host, 55, sits down to field questions on a panel that also includes superstars Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Paula Patton and Sherri Shepherd.

A Ukrainian audience member pipes up asking her to save the 100,000 orphans in 200 orphanages there.

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“I would have to say that my focus is really on my school in Africa, because everyone can do something,” Oprah says. “That’s really one of the lessons of that film, also. My focus is on what I can do, and so I don’t try to take on things that I have no jurisdiction over, or can really handle.”

Another audience member asks her to be his mentor. She deflects.

It’s no secret that Oprah’s stamp of approval can make a difference. Just ask President Barack Obama, whom she campaigned to put in the highest office in the land. Plus, there’s Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray, who became famous in their own right after Oprah took them under her wing. And don’t forget her famous book club.


Hm, how about a film club now that Big O has become a filmmaker?

“Well, I would say I’m the biggest member of that film club right now. Uh, I don’t know, because a film like this has come through once at a time. I don’t think any of us have ever seen anything like this. That’s a good thought – why not?”

Inspiration at last!

After all, asking for help from Oprah got this film about the plight of an abused, obese African-American woman where it is today – at the Toronto International Film Festival with a stellar cast of all-stars.

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“The moment I saw this film, I called director Lee Daniels, and Lee happened to be onstage – yes, really – receiving an award at the Sundance Film Festival … he goes imitation ‘I’m onstage, I’m getting an award!’ And I go, ‘well, you should turn off your cellphone!’”

What impact has her show had?

“I think that my show has been able to have a great impact on opening people’s eyes to any myriad of issues, including this film,” Oprah says. “Because I feel that the Precious’s of the world, the Precious’s everywhere, deserve to be heard and deserve a voice, and to be able to use my platform – the show, the magazine, myself, radio, whatever else I do – in a way that allows other people to see it, and make it powerful to other people.”

What is the message of the film?

“Nothing is happening out of order with you – that everything comes into your life to help grow you to the next phase, and if you open yourself to the possibilities of your life, everything that you’re growing into yourself, can help lift you,” Oprah says. “Everything is a gift from the universe.”

For more coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival, pick up the OK! on newsstands now. Twilight/Wedding of the Year is the headline. And check out Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire in select theaters beginning November 6.


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