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Old 03-04-2003, 12:56 AM   #1
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Experience: My Adventure with Oprah and Bono

by Ann Storey

I have been a U2 fan for about 10 years. I remember seeing the video for “Even Better Than the Real Thing” and falling in love. Their music has been always been an inspiration to me. There is a feeling I get from U2 and their music that I don’t get listening to anything else, I connect to their music in ways that I can’t with other artists. I’ve always been not just impressed, but deeply moved by their humanitarian work and especially the recent work that Bono has done with Drop the Debt and DATA. Because of U2, I started educating myself about the world around me and doing what I can to make it a better place. After seeing the Elevation Tour in Denver, I felt such gratitude towards the band for all they had done to impact my life - I wanted to find a way to thank them personally.

I have watched Oprah for years and I know that she values making each day count and also what it is to be a true admirer of someone. I decided to write her and ask for the opportunity to meet the band and thank them for the impact they’ve had on my life. I spent about a month revising and re-writing the letter so it would be perfect. I finally sent it off and basically forgot about it. I guess I never really planned to hear back. After all, Oprah gets thousands of letters every day.

On September 11, 2002, Oprah’s producers called to tell me they had received my letter, and that Bono was going to be on the show that next week and they were interested in talking to me.

This is when the craziest week of my life began.

I was playing phone tag with Oprah’s producers; answering all kinds of questions about all kinds of things. I was emailing photos and sending videotapes overnight. About three days into all this, I finally got the call I was praying for - it was the producer telling me that they were going to fly my mom and I out to Chicago to be on the show.

On September 16, we flew to Chicago from our small Wyoming town. We arrived and were met with a limo, and taken to the studio where I got to record parts of my letter that were to be used on the show. We were then taken to the Omni Hotel where we checked into our room. We spent the rest of the day on Michigan Avenue shopping for the perfect outfits to wear to the show!

The next day, we were picked up at about 11am to head off to the studio. I was a guest on the show as well as the two college students who went with Bono and Chris Tucker to Africa. It was so great to talk to them and hear first-hand about their amazing experience. Once we arrived at the studio, our limo was attacked by fans waiting outside, they thought we were Bono, how great is that?! We were put in a conference room where we had our hair and make-up done. At about 12:45pm, they put our microphones on and took us to the studio. It’s much smaller than I had imagined, and my seat was right in front! Looking at Oprah’s and Bono’s chairs, all I could think of was how close he was going to be, and I just couldn’t get over it.

The show starts. Bono comes out and I’m in total shock. I made a point not to act like a crazed fan, after all - I was on TV in front of 10 million people, I had to stay composed. The show went on, and during the second commercial break, Bono went over to talk to the college students who went to Africa with him. I looked over and they were pointing him in my direction! The big moment had finally arrived! I was going to meet Bono!! He came over, shook my hand, gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. He then told me to sit and he squatted down and we chatted. I thanked him for his music and for all of his work in Africa. I thanked him for being an inspiration to me. I was totally surprised at how calm I was. Here I am talking to my hero, and I wasn’t nervous at all. I guess it was just one more thing that made me love Bono and U2. They’re real people! I didn’t feel like I was talking to the world’s biggest rock star, I felt like I was talking to a friend.

The commercial break ended, and Bono went on with the show. It was getting towards the end and I had a feeling that there wasn’t going to be time for my letter. Though I was prepared for it, and I really think it’s better that way. People need to hear about what’s happening in Africa, they don’t need to hear about how much I love U2.

The show ended and my letter didn’t make it. They changed the set around a bit then we taped “Oprah After the Show” for the Oxygen Network. This program offers a chance for the audience to ask questions of the guest and/or Oprah. I tried to think of a really good one, but my mind was totally blank. I couldn’t think of a single thing. I began to panic as I realized that they were almost done.

When Bono handed over his shades to Oprah, I saw my chance. I was only a couple of feet from Oprah and I caught her eye and asked if I could wear the shades. It took some convincing to get them from her and let her know that she’d get them back but I eventually won out. Oprah handed me the Bono’s shades. That sentence always makes me laugh. There I was with two of the most famous people in the world, wearing the most famous sunglasses in the world and what was I thinking? “These are kind of dirty, and the curve of the lenses makes things a bit distorted.” Just as I was thinking that, Bono asked, “The world starts looking a bit different through those doesn’t it?” It was the greatest moment ever! I also took the chance to ask for a photo. Bono and I put our arms around each other’s shoulders, and posed for what has become one of my most treasured possessions. We chatted for about a minute or two and then he kissed my hand. I was moved by his humility. Even as well as I thought I “knew” him, I never would have guessed that he was so incredibly humble. He looked me in the eye and really listened to what I had to say. I will never forget that.

Thank you Bono.
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