I thought, "why don't we be innovative and create something nobody had ever done before?" It was a huge hit and we immediately did a sequel with Chris Rock, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner and Maya Angelou.
I love "Phenomenal Woman." The experiences she had of being African American in the U.S. - that itself is a task. I appreciate the hardships Maya Angelou went through for our generation. I'm super influenced by the black people that paved the way for us.
Of course, there are those critics - New York critics as a rule - who say, 'Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it's good but then she's a natural writer.' Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
I've learned to rely on the strength I inherited from all those who came before me-the grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and brothers who were tested with unimaginable hardships and still survived. 'I go forth alone, and stand as ten thousand,' Maya Angelou proclaimed in her poem 'Our Grandmothers.' When I move through the world, I bring all my history with me-all the people who paved the way for me are part of who I am.
When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.
You did the best you could, the best you knew how at the time." It was something like that. From Oprah on an Oprah show. Then I believe my quote above was from Maya Angelou on the Oprah show, not Oprah herself. I had heard it before but it was on Oprah's show again 1-7-09 and she said Maya had said it.