“You’re nothing if you’re not the truth,” Winfrey, 63, said to the crowd. “I’ve made a living, I’ve made a life – I’ve made a fortune, really – all good! – from being true to myself. If I can leave you with any message today: The biggest reward is not financial benefits, though it’s really good, you can get a lot of great shoes!”
She continued, “Those of you who have a lot of shoes know having a closet full of shoes doesn’t fill up your life. Living a life of substance can. Substance through your service.”
Winfrey had spent time in Atlanta on location for her HBO movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which she starred in and executive produced. The film adapted the New York Times best seller by Rebecca Skloot that detailed how Lacks’ cells came to be known as the HeLa line, and how its existence has impacted the family she left behind.
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And this is not her first commencement address. The former talk show host and eyewear muse attended Johnson C. Smith University’s graduation in 2016 because two students from her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa (Noluthando “Thando” Dlomo and Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva) are members of the school’s class of 2016.