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Author Gets Lifelong Dream–Meets Oprah at Radio City But Blows It

The event was such a painful moment that for years, she wouldn’t talk about it. But in the end, even this terrible setback proved to be a tremendous learning experience.

Author Camilla Chance is someone who knows what it’s like to be the underdog and to be bullied. She was born into an upper middle class family in England, and they moved to Australia when she was 4 years old. Her father and mother were unrelenting in telling her how she must conform and be “proper.” She was not to speak unless spoken to. When she was alone, which she often was, she would write, but they always told her that it was of no use. Her father destroyed anything she wrote.

But no matter how many times Camilla was punished, beaten, and bullied, she continued to write. It was her salvation. At age 18, her manuscript was accepted by a London publishing firm. When her father found out about it, he forbade her to have it published. He destroyed the contract, and that was supposed to be the end of that. Camilla had to fight to write and fight to speak, but that’s just what she did and continued to do as an adult.

Living in Australia, Ms. Chance became very interested in the plight of the Aboriginal people, and she befriended an elder named Banjo Clarke, who was known also as Wisdom Man. Even though Camilla and Banjo came from completely different backgrounds, they both understood what it was like to be bullied and to be the underdog. They gave each other the love and acceptance they had to fight for in their lives. The two enjoyed a 25-year relationship.

Before he died, Banjo gave Camilla permission to publish WisdomMan, the book she had written with him about his life, about being Aboriginal, and about Aboriginal spiritual beliefs.

It became a bestseller!

Wisdom Man’s popularity has spread like wildfire among First Nations people in the United States and Canada. The book has inspired elders and leaders to return more to their own traditions and to teach them with renewed vigor. In the United States, revered First Nation teacher Joseph Bruchac has praised Wisdom Man. Chief Ignacio Garcia presents a copy to everyone he takes on tour in Peru, and in Canada, tour guide and traditional boat builder Joseph Martin finds that Wisdom Man has put him in touch with his own elders who have passed on.

People from many races have compared Elder Banjo Clarke to the likes of Nelson Mandela. Men and women from around the world have told Ms. Chance of how meeting Banjo’s ever-forgiving character through Wisdom Man (now in E-Book form as well) has helped them to find peace. Deepak Chopra himself has several copies. People who are increasingly disturbed by the devastation we are bringing to Mother Earth are turning to indigenous folk for guidance on how to protect and nurture her back to health. Interest generally in indigenous traditions is on the rise. Spirituality is a growing trend that is seen as necessary if humankind is to survive. Banjo was convinced that the spiritual beliefs of his ancient culture, so thoroughly expressed in Wisdom Man, could prove the saving of our world.

* * * * *

But there is more to this story. A few years ago, the famous Oprah was in New York appearing with Deepak Chopra at Radio City Music Hall. I had actually won two tickets in a lottery. I offered to take Camilla, who had hoped her dream would come true, to see Oprah. Camilla was quite a fan.

At the taping of the show, during breaks, people were yelling from throughout the theatre for Oprah to come visit them, but she wasn’t going anywhere. She stated that, “My shoes can’t take me anywhere except downstairs to see some of the people right in the front of the audience.”

I heard a soft voice next to me. It was Camilla. “I flew 26 hours to get here. You’ve got to speak to me.” Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Radio City is huge. It seats 6,000 people. So, after we had been there for quite a while, I gathered the ‘troops,’ the people sitting around us, to root for Oprah to speak with Camilla. Finally right before the show was to end, I asked the entire group to yell out, “Camilla flew 26 hours to get here; you’ve got to speak to her!” And they did it! Then, the entire theatre went silent. Oprah said, “Give the microphone to the lady who flew 26 hours to get here.”

Camilla got to her feet, microphone in hand. Oprah’s question was, “How have I helped you?” Dead silence. Nothing came out of Camilla’s mouth. Oprah began to get agitated. Camilla finally just said something meaningless, and that was the end of it. Camilla had lost her chance to speak to Oprah. After all the bullying and cruelty that she suffered, she had now come face to face with what she most dreaded and had blown it.

Sharing the moment of defeat with her, I knew that I, too, growing up had been told to keep quiet and dumb. I later had reacted by feeling that I must always tell the truth, and I believe now that one of my roles on this earth is to be an advocate for folks who cannot speak on their own.

Camilla had stared, unable to speak, into the face of her worst dragon, and it had defeated her. As always, however, fighting to speak and fighting to write, she survived. And I had an idea to help her. She walked away with me, and she would keep going.

Every week, Camilla calls me from her side of the world. I ask her various questions in our own private interviews. As she answers, I freely and honestly tell her how she’s coming across. Is she being boring? Unclear? Or inspiring? Maybe not assertive enough? Maybe exciting? Each week as she interviews with me, I tell her what works and what should be adjusted. Obviously, this needs a lot of trust on Camilla’s part, but after a lifetime of learning to be a loving person, she’s able to give it.

We committed to do this every week for six months, and we’ve completed a couple of months so far. Camilla’s able to speak and write more and more, with less and less fighting to do it. Just as she had accepted and was accepted by Banjo in his wisdom, she has come at last to accept herself, perhaps now with another friend’s help. Another opportunity to speak to Oprah may not present itself, but it’s worth noting that Camilla’s next book is about bullying. Speaking and writing. She’s ready. Look how Banjo and Oprah have touched lives!

When facing your biggest fear and failing--keep on going until you get it right!

When facing your biggest fear and failing–keep on going until you get it right!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 at 7:37 am and is filed under African American, Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Author Gets Lifelong Dream–Meets Oprah at Radio City But Blows It”

  1. Cindy Harris Says:

    Ms. Rosen:

    What a true friend you are to Camilla. Not many have a friendship such as this. I hope that Camilla really knows what a treasure trove you are.

    Cindy Harris

  2. Says:

    Now I know who the brainy one is, I’ll keep looking for your posts.

  3. http://www./ Says:

    Av innslag som trener lattermusklaturen vil jeg påstå at dette innlegget er noe av artigste jeg har lest her inne. At klokka er 0300 natt til mandag kan jo spille en hovedrolle, men dog, veldig, veldig artig!

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