SUNRISE, Fla. - It was hard to reconcile, all this sunshine Oprah Winfrey cast upon the masses at the BB&T Center on Saturday morning.
Outside, the air was thick with machismo, vengeance and the prospect of war, still simmering after a speech delivered in a Miami megachurch 24 hours earlier by President Trump. But in another corner of South Florida, Oprah kicked off her nationwide wellness tour with a different message: All humans are instinctively happy and collaborative, trusting and respectful.
"Our desires are the same," she told a sold-out audience of more than 15,000. "We want health. We want abundance. We want to be prosperous for ourselves and our families. We want to be connected ... and we want to be uplifted in our lives."
A daylong event with elements of a health seminar, celebrity fan fest, political campaign and church revival, Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus began a nine-city run at the BB&T Center, highlighted by a remarkably candid Q&A with singer-actor Lady Gaga and a rousing appearance by dancer-actor Julianne Hough.
The audience was probably 90% female, in a rainbow of colors and ages, and the energy in the packed arena was palpable.
"Oprah has been my main drive. She's inspirational, and I listen to her podcast every day," said Brie Mazin, a Boynton Beach yoga instructor and mother of three young children, who attended with friend Rachel Shapiro. "Everything is so positive, and she has changed our world. There is no better way to start the new year than with her and her vision."
Oprah's 2020 Vision tour, sponsored by WW (formerly Weight Watchers), continues Jan. 11 in St. Paul, Minn., with A-lister Tina Fey in the Q&A seat. Other stops include Charlotte on Jan. 18 (Amy Schumer), Atlanta on Jan. 25 (Dwayne Johnson), Brooklyn on Feb. 8 (Michelle Obama), Dallas on Feb. 15 (Tracee Ellis Ross), San Francisco on Feb. 22 (Kate Hudson), Los Angeles on Feb. 29 (Jennifer Lopez) and Denver on March 7 (with her best friend Gayle King).
Here are some of the things that made Saturday at the BB&T Center with Oprah Winfrey unique:
Lady Gaga opens up
Arriving onstage in all black, except for long, flamingo-hued hair, pop star and actor Lady Gaga was a warm, sassy and riveting presence in a vividly honest behind-the-music Q&A. Seated beside Winfrey in chairs placed a few feet from each other on a massive stage, Gaga spoke about being raped repeatedly at age 19 (by a man she declines to name), and the resulting mental turmoil that manifested in excruciating and near constant pain from fibromyalgia.