Thanks to our partner WME, the lives of 100 New Look Atlanta youth, parents, staff and sponsors have been changed. Over the weekend, UNL got the once in a lifetime experience of seeing Oprah’s Life You Want Tour. The 2-day weekend event held at Philips Arena was the kickoff of Oprah’s 8-City motivational tour. For those who attended, the emotional depth of the experience was hard to put into words. New Look’s Digital and Social Media Associate, Jordyn Smith, said, “We laughed, we cried, we danced, we learned to meditate, and most of all, we each grew in spirit! Through the experience, I think all of us, young and old, recognized our true purpose.” 10th Grade Atlanta Academy youth, Keiondra Dupree, Tweeted, “I feel refreshed and like I know my life has value.” For each member of the New Look Family, the experience meant something different, but for all it was inspiration to take action on their dreams!
Through a visual journey on Friday evening, Oprah began by telling her audience that the purpose of the Life You Want Tour is to teach others to find their purpose in life, just how she did– Against all odds. Many were unaware that Oprah herself grew up in circumstances very relatable to those of New Look students and their families. Oprah was born to unmarried teenage parents in a small poor town in Mississippi in 1954, a time when being born black and female meant having little to no opportunities at all. She shared that she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to live with her father at a young age and fortunately, did not have to experience segregation in the south. However, she still had to overcome many obstacles, including being raped at the age of 9 and sexually molested from ages 9 to 14. At the age of 16 she became pregnant, attempted suicide on several occasions out of fear her father would find out and kill her, and ended up losing her baby. Oprah Winfrey experienced all of these things and still felt her calling was to be #BIGGERTHAN her circumstances; To use her passion for public broadcasting to become an international voice for change. What Oprah did in her own life is the core of New Look’s programs. We teach youth to identify their passions early on, and use it to find not only a career pathway, but a greater purpose in life.
Oprah told her audience,
“I want us all to fulfill our greatest potential. To find our calling and summon the courage to live it.”
On Saturday, Oprah led a day-long, interactive workshop with hand-picked “life trailblazers,” each of whom brought a “unique power to connect, dig deep and open hearts and minds”. The day began with a lesson on meditation from world renowned spiritual healer, Deepak Chopra. Then, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, shared how she took action over her own depression and found happiness by manifesting her dreams of travelling her world. Next, Rob Bell led a presentation called ‘Everything is Spiritual,’ where he shared stories from moments in his life where things seemed almost “too coincidental” to not be the work of a Higher Power. Between each speaker, Oprah led interactive workbook exercises to help each audience member set personal goals. OWN Network’s Iyanla Vanzant ended the series of speakers with her comedic segment called ‘Here’s to Life’ and Oprah closed with a beautiful speech on how ‘Create a New Vision’ for yourself and those you love.
At the end of Saturday’s show, many youth, parents, volunteers and sponsors could not hold back the tears. “It was truly a moment of overwhelming joy as we realized the endless potential each of us have to bring our dreams to life and make an impact on the world. This experience made us all recognize, more than ever, how lucky we are to be involved in the Usher’s New Look organization,” said Jordyn Smith
Check out these email messages New Look received from our attendees after the show…
“As I sit here and reflect on what we were taught I can’t help but say thank you, Usher, Usher’s New Look, Oprah, Elizabeth, Rob, Iylana. You alllll have changed my life from this day going forward. Because God aligned every one of your hearts to give us this opportunity, I grew a little closer today than yesterday to understanding my spiritual purpose. Usher’s New Look, I can’t express enough how powerful this organization is, not because of the people we meet, but because through someone else’s vision (Usher and his mom) you have now created other entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, nurses, designers, etc in the process. I guess what I’m trying to say is y’all give back hope! Hope to the community, our children, our future leaders. Every last one of the staff at New Look from Gavin and formerly Shawn (Godfather) on down has inspired somebody at some point, and because of you the generation society predicts won’t be successful will be more successful than ever. They will be the same doctors who treat you when you are older or sick, engineers who figure out how your thoughts can make lights come on without you having to move a muscle, same designers to keep you forever “swaggin” and the same ones who will remember all the lives that believed in them when others didn’t . I have never met Usher’s mom, Jonetta, but if I do I will hug her. We had a blast. Thank you guys soooo much” -Jennifer, Atlanta Academy Mother
“Hello All, just wanted to say thank you for the life changing experience of seeing Oprah! This amazing weekend would not have been possible without the generosity of The Usher’s NewLook Foundation. With that being said, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and others that you’ve provided for me. Thanks Again.” -Skye Moham, Atlanta Academy Youth
“The Oprah Experience was completely amazing! I’ve been working on myself a lot since I’ve graduated school. I’ve been meditating more, I’ve started doing yoga regularly, and I’ve been reading books to help me learn even more about personal growth. The Oprah experience was aligned with all of these topics and more! I loved being able to hear her stories about life and becoming the woman she is today! I also enjoyed the sessions with Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant, and Rob Bell!! I’ve learned so much from them! I think the most important principle I’ve learned was that I need to choose love in everything I do! Because when you put out love and other positive energy, that’s what you will receive back. I’m so glad I was able to experience this because I’ve always wanted to see her show live (and I was just saying this the other day)! But now I’ve been able to share an experience with her and that means much more! I even ran into Martin Luther King Jr. III on my way out! It was great to see him again and I loved that he was there to receive insight from Oprah too!! Thanks New Look for giving me the opportunity to attend!” -Malia Murray, New Look Atlanta Alumni
“This was an awesome event. I want to thank Usher’s New Look for giving me, my daughter (Skye) and my 79 yrs. old mother a once in a lifetime experience. Oprah touched us spiritually and mentally. Thanks again!” – Sherita, Atlanta Academy Mother
“Thank you for the tickets to the Life You Want Weekend with Oprah. It was great and my friend and I really enjoyed it . We were there early for both days and stayed to the end. Thank you so much for thinking of me. If there is ever anything that I can do for you just let me know. Many Thanks.” -Cynthia, New Look Programs Volunteer
“Prior to the conference, I felt lost trying to figure out what would my next move be. I’ve known my calling for awhile but I was afraid to go for it by stepping out on faith. I feel that God used Usher’s New Look to bless me with Oprah tickets so that it would give me the revelation I needed. Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend empowered and inspired me. I was at the edge of my seat wanting to know more and more because it was so much knowledge and wisdom in what they were all saying. It really touched home for me listening to their testimonies. I made a vow to start living the life I want by listening closely to my spirit and not my flesh. I wear my Life bracelet from the event as a reminder that a great change has occurred in me after the conference and it’s my commitment to my calling. Baby Steps, but I’m on my way. 🙂 The conference Recharged my battery. So thank you Usher’s New Look for giving me the opportunity to see Oprah which was one of my dreams. Because of it I am a changed woman and fired up to change the world. God Bless You!!” -Nickie Linton, New Look Atlanta Volunteer