Oprah Winfrey has set the record straight about being “ambushed” by her “secret son,” as a tabloid so claims. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Winfrey explains that her so-called son, Calvin Mitchell, is a boy she met in the early ’90s while filming in the Chicago projects for There Are No Children Here.
Winfrey became so taken with Mitchell that she decided to help him and his family by enrolling Mitchell in a private school and helping his mother find a job.
But after the school principal called Winfrey to say that Mitchell hadn’t been attending class, the family explained that they couldn’t wake up on time to get him to school.
“We realised they don’t have any clocks in the house,” she said. “We went out, Stedman and I, went to K-Mart that moment, got a bag full of clocks, came back to the house, taught them how to set the alarm and all that.”
Despite Winfrey’s best efforts, Mitchell was eventually expelled from school and then refused to attend a Mississippi boarding school Winfrey found for him.
“I said, ‘Calvin, this is the moment. This is a seminal moment for you. I know you are 16 and can’t see the road ahead, but if you leave this school and refuse to get an education — I have tried to offer you an education twice — there isn’t another school I can put you in. If you leave this school, I am done. There is nothing else I can do.’ … And that was my last conversation with Calvin in the early ’90s,” explained Winfrey.
When Mitchell recently approached Winfrey after she taped The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the TV mogul initially wanted to set up a time to speak with him privately. Though that changed once she found out he had spoken to a tabloid.
“When I realised the whole thing was a setup, I was no longer interested in speaking to him,” she said. “I learned from that experience, if you really want to change somebody’s life, you gotta be able to spend enough time with them to change the way they think about what their life can be,” said Winfrey.
“It isn’t enough to give a person a new life or money or a new car, you have to teach them how to fish themselves.”