How Interviewing Oprah Made Me Feel Like a Fraud (or How Everything That Glitters on Social Media is Not Gold)

Britni Danielle and Oprah

Uh, yeah, that totally happened.

There is a thin like between tooting your own horn and being the Kanye West of bragging so hard people want to punch you in the face.

In my “real” life (i.e. not here on the interwebs), I stay on the humble side of the line, regularly forgetting (or refusing?) to share my accomplishments with those around me because, for whatever reason, I get a tad bit embarrassed when people make a big deal out of things (even when they’re actually a big deal). But being a good citizen of the web—and someone who has built her career online—means sharing  some of the awesome things that have happen in my life….and this sometimes leaves me feeling like a big ol’ fraud.

Let me explain.

If you’re following me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram then you already know that I met and interviewed the reigning Queen Mother of All Media—Oprah.

Back in December 2013, I got a call from my (dope!) editor at Essence asking if I was interested and able to interview Oprah, Forest Whitiker, Michael B. Jordan, and Chiwetel Ejiofor for the mag’s digital property.

In my mind I was like, Would I be INTERESTED?! Seriously? I’d do it for free! But I played it cool and said yes (and sent the invoice later—I ain’t no fool!).

On December 11, 2013 I had five glorious minutes with Oprah, asking exactly two (pre-approved) questions about her role in The Butler. Then I sat in the room and listened while Essence EIC Vanessa Bush chatted with Ms. Winfrey for the magazine, luxuriating in the fact that I was just a few feet away from a living legend. And a billionaire! I was hoping that some of Oprah’s massive wealth would get transferred to me by osmosis, but alas, it did not.

After meeting Ms. Winfrey I floated on cloud 9, but I couldn’t tell anyone about it….until now.

Yesterday I shared the picture of me and OPRRRRAAAAAAAH and the kudos came in unstoppable waves. People liked, commented, and even shared my picture, saying they knew someone who knew Oprah.

And I get it. I mean, it’s Oprah. Meeting someone who is not only a self-made billionaire, but a  trailblazer in media, and who LIVED on our TV screens for over 25 years is a big damn deal.

But is it life-changing?

I suppose it can be. I suppose someone may see my photo and hire me as a writer (uh, seriously – email me) because I’ve interviewed Oprah.

But right now, at this moment, it’s a cool experience—and I will cherish it always—but that’s pretty much it.

Other than having the memory of my five-minute convo with Auntie O, and a freelance check for my work, I’ve got nothing else to show for it. Zilch.

And this is the part where I start feeling like a bit of a fraud.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the comments and likes, but seeing people’s reaction to my photo with Oprah makes me feel like they’re expecting me to be constantly doing  something fabulous, like getting President Obama on the phone or counting my millions, because I have finally “arrived.” When in truth my life is pretty much the same as it was pre-Oprah.

I still juggle multiple freelance gigs to pay the bills; I’m still working on my next novel and get frustrated when the others aren’t flying off the shelves (seriously, buy one); I’m still arguing with Le Kid about whatever it is 8-year-olds aren’t supposed to do, but he’s obsessed with doing; I still write nights, weekends, and whenever I can; and my bank account is still waiting for its very own bailout.

See, “success” is a tricky thing, and people define it in various ways.

While many look at my bylines and 5-minute-chat with Oprah as “success,” I don’t.

Although each of these things have been wonderful, if I can’t pay my student loan bills at the end of the month or take a trip whenever I want am I really successful?

At times, social media makes me feel like a fraud. It probably makes us all feel like frauds.

I mean, it’s easy to share our vacation photos, promotions, and new shoes, but how many of us tell our “followers” we can’t pay the bills, hate our jobs, or have credit scores so low Suze Orman couldn’t even help us bounce back?

Most of us don’t share the ugly parts. Hell, most of us don’t even want to be reminded of them ourselves.

But if I can impart one thing to you while I’m on this crazy, frightening, amazing journey of living life on my own terms is this:

Don’t measure yourself by the standards or expectations of others, and don’t ever, ever get caught up in the hype. Ever.

Does your social media presence ever make you feel like a fraud? Leave a comment below sharing your experience. Don’t be scared. I love hearing from you!

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  • vabeard

    One day, I hope to have a life as glamorous and fabulous as what my timeline looks like. Lol!

    Great article, Brit! And I totally agree with you. It’s so hard for most of us to draw that line and be able to infer what our REAL successes are. Does taking a picture with someone famous mean that I was “partying” with them, or that I was randomly out, saw them, squealed, called out their name, then rushed over like a bobby-soxer to take a picture? You just never know. Social media is a funny thing sometimes.

  • KaShawn Archer

    I loved this! I totally get where you’re coming from b/c most of the “bigger” interviews I’ve done where before I even became a paid writer, and people would go “Omg you interviewed so-n-so!” and I would think, I literally just emailed their publicist and did this for free nothing major. Afterward I would feel pressure to keep trying to land big interviews until I realized I had to just reach out to people I was inspired by whether they were considered big to other people or not. The last interview I did was with an average person with an amazing story and I will be getting paid. The feeling that gives me is far more rewarding that social media recognition. Never the less congrats on the milestone I mean it’s still OPRAH!! :-)

  • QuarterLifeMama

    Wow that’s deep, Britni. I never thought about it like that nor have I thought that you interviewing Oprah was the end all be all. My view of you says ‘successful writer’ but as someone who used to write, I know what that entails and that writers, like many other professions, don’t get the ‘glitz and glam’ pay that people think they do (depending on who you are *thinking about Terry McMillan’s first check as a published author*). I digress, but you’re not a fraud by any means. You don’t boast or brag…hell YOU SHOULD GIRL. You’re doing the damn thing! Everyone’s view of success is different. For you, you may not have reached that point. But only you can determine that. I say keep doing what you’re doing but you definitely let us know the not so glamorous side that people think you are/live. Thanks for being transparent. :-)

  • antisparkle09

    I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about defining success on your own terms. It’s that whole perception vs. reality thing. Sometimes I think we need to offer a better peek behind the current to our followers because it humanizes us. Plus it reminds them that we don’t have all this stuff figured out either and that we require their support because we haven’t fully “arrived”. I’m still very excited for you! I love when good thing happen to us regular people.

    • BritniDanielle

      Totally agree. And thank you!

    • http://www.amway.com/patrickwatts Patrick

      My words exactly Monique!

  • Amber

    I hear you. I recently won an award at the college where I teach and it was amazing.
    Like, the president of the school knows my name. That’s a pretty big
    deal! But I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. Not to diminish my
    accomplishment, but to stay humble and keep grinding.

    I saw your picture and beamed with pride because I mean…it’s a photo with Oprah! That’s a big deal. It was a special moment that few will get to have. And, your career is soaring because you are great at what you do. That’s what I took from it and that’s what made me so happy for you.

    But, live does go on. It’s like the reality tv syndrome. People get on these shows, become famous for five minutes and then go back home to their regular lives. It’s important to stay humble out of the hype. I try to present my full, authentic self on SM. I have good days and I have other days where I simply need a hug, so I say that, too.

    Keep up the great work, sis!

  • ~CDA

    Celebrating milestones, accomplishments, experiences in life that bring us joy shows gratitude for those opportunities that come our way, and doing so attracts more to ourselves. So, as much as we hesitate to speak openly of our accomplishments (which most AAs suffer from), we are blocking the blessing we can be to others as encouragement for them to also reach for their dreams, or lesson to teach them to speak well of themselves and their accomplishments as well. God created us to excel, and when we can give Him praise for what we accomplish with His help, such testimonies always work wonders. So keep living out loud, share share share, whether bills are due or not. You are one of the rare few to have interviewed Oprah, and it warrants celebrating. There is no fraud in that! I’m very proud of you for being courageous enough to go after your dream. And it is in doing what you love that fulfillment, compensation, and your own measure of success will show up. The first question I ask my clients is ‘what does success for yourself look like?’ if you remember our previous conversation.

  • Amber Dorsey

    I kind of love this. We all have levels of feeling like “we made it” in some way (mine was the first time I saw my name on a legit site on the internet) but that still doesn’t take away from our personal struggles. I think it’s very important to be transparent because while folks are attracted to what’s shiny and new and tend to follow the ones with all the new hotness, most of the rest of the world are drawn to those who tell it like it is and share the highs and the lows. I know that’s what makes me interested in certain blogs/ IG/ FB accounts. I want to know/ see the nitty gritty and feel like you struggle like I do so that when you do hit it big (in whatever way that might be for you) I feel that joy right along with you because I remember when….(you didn’t have a job, were looking for a home, struggling with something etc.) and that is more profound than five minutes of internet fame.
    But oh my word you have actual proof of meeting Miss O!! THAT is epic.

  • cherring09

    Awesome post. I’m in the midst of doing some really cool things myself through social media but the social media glitz is better than the payoff in material terms. So glad you wrote this, because I’m starting to feel all this… On a smaller scale… Because… You still got to interview Oprah. Hahaha. I just work for someone who worked for her. Lol. At any rate… Congrats! And thanks for helping fellow writers stay grounded.

  • Alja

    love

  • Sofia

    Powerful Britni. You make some very good points. First things first – you are enough/valuable/worthy just as you are. It’s so awesome that you got to interview Oprah and the rest of the awesome folks listed above; however just know that your friends and people truly proud of you love you and think you are awesome simply because YOU ARE YOU. :) No other reason. And you made a great point about us not sharing the ugly parts…and this one had me hollaring – have credit scores so law Suze Orman couldn’t even help us bounce back….cuz well, I can so relate! hahahaha! I’m guilty of that…I share only the “good/positive” stuff. And that does make me feel like a fraud..I do struggle w/portraying that I have it all together; but my internal fear is that people will discover that I don’t…and that makes me feel like a fraud…I’m working on feeling more comfortable in my own skin and being confident in my humaness….again, thank you for sharing!

  • Starkey

    I loved this Britni! I try to be as semi-transparent on social media because I want to let people in my world without it seeming all peaches and cream. Langston Hughes said it best ” Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” why not share the bad just as much as the great moments.
    Regardless of how you feel after sharing your interview, the opportunity to speak with such a phenomenal woman like Oprah is incredible. You still did that!

  • fauxvillain

    I loved your post and it made me think about lots of things i’ve been pondering on through the last 5 years, which has been my career on the internet. I came to the conclusion, like you, that yes, Social media makes you feel like a fraud. But it is not it’s fault, I mean… Nobody wants to share the worst moments of their life online, nobody wants to fill their networks with things like “got fired today” or “I missed the chance”. Some of us do, though, but my point is… The use of social media to show the highlights of our life with others is helpful, if not, inspiring.
    You for example, inspired me to keep on writing, I’ve been a fan of your work for over 6 months already and I got to your site by a time when I was thinking about quitting. I haven’t and I’m here. I’m still working on crappy stuff but i’m writing. i think that seeing the success of others, makes us better, and it might not seem like a big deal for some that you met Oprah, for example, but you’re showing other people who have the same wish, to keep on trying. You may still be struggling with your book and have problems and all, but that’s the point of this, it shows you that in the middle of difficulty you still can get amazing things. It’s just one blessing out of many.
    It’s not being a fraud, it’s being inspiring.

    • BritniDanielle

      Hey Fauxvillain,

      Totally agree. Watching others can certainly be inspiring; it’s certainly helped me. And I’m glad you’ve gotten something positive from me. That makes me feel awesome :)

  • sarahleetravels

    Thanks for this great post. It really brings balance in a world where the cult of celebrity reigns and social media is like real life on speed. All too often social media is where you’re ‘seen’ to be doing well when the reality is far from the truth. I’ve seen so much of this and it’s such a load of BS, but the kind of thing that can cause sensible, (truly) successful people to fear they’re underachieving. Kudos to you for not falling into the hype trap!

  • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

    I am a fraud. And until I read this I had no idea (thanks). But I feel like this much change. Yes, it’s time for me to start posting pictures of overdue bills and empty Viagra pill bottles that I can’t afford to fill.

    Keep up the grind…

    You’re an inspiration .

  • Mrs. Cooper

    You are dope! That is all.

  • Rosalind Watkins

    This is interesting. I share the good, bad and ugly of my life.. The joys and the sorrows… when I feel in control and (like now) when I feel I’m a failure. I don’t put much stock in photos. They are nothing more than photo ops. That “representative” people put forth. Oprah may be a perfectly lovely woman… she may be a horrid shrew. Not knowing her I cannot say. Nor can I make an assumption either way based on a photo of her. In terms of career opportunities, it is a coo as a journalist to interview Oprah… and that’s it. Doesn’t mean much beyond that. I’m sorry. Given the state of what’s going on in the “real world” this is irrelevant. People are homeless, jobless, hungry, defeated, deflated, agitated, angry, afraid, and devoid of all hope. Who cares about Oprah…. #truthandreality

  • Lila Brown

    I wish I could talk to you in person because this is something I struggled with early on in my career. This is something I feel like women in business do quite often. We are made to feel like we can’t take pride in our work without feeling like a fraud. Your handwork-not luck- got you in a position to interview Oprah. Your editor called YOU! All the stuff that goes on behind the scenes-struggling as a freelancer, that is what makes your story so remarkable and beautiful. Despite all the odds, you have prevailed because you kept your eyes and focus on the bigger picture. We all have bills, challenges and things that won’t go right in our lives, but its how we are able to rise above that…that is what gives us balance and I’m sure its what keeps you grounded. But you have every right to be proud of your accomplishments. You just have to give yourself permission to be happy. Leverage all your amazing opportunities. Don’t tuck them away because you may feel like a fraud. Use that to open more doors…fake your pride for now, but GOD has blessed you and your blessings can inspire others.

  • Joi-Marie

    I
    absolutely love this Britni because it is “the rub” — as they say–
    for entertainment writers/producers/reporters that just because we work
    WITH celebrities that all of a sudden we ARE celebrities (Clarification:
    We’re not, and to do our job well we have to be on the opposite side of
    celebrity and fame, deep down on our insides.) If I tell you how many
    people have asked me to hook they up with said celebrity, or tell said
    celebrity something (as if we’re cool), I’d be a billionaire like Oprah.
    Still, Britni you should absolutely be proud of being able to interview
    Momma O even if it was two questions for five minutes, because there
    are millions who want to do that very thing, or even one question for
    three minutes, and will NEVER have the chance. Cherise every moment,
    even the seemingly little ones.

  • Jade

    I LOVE THIS!!!!!

  • Raemelle Childs

    So love this conversation piece, very interesting. I’m enjoying reading the coments here. I loved your blog, etc.
    I call myself a writer, blogger, poet, etc, but haven’t yet been able to express my work because I’m dyslexic. Please don’t try an run and think that it’s contangous, because it’s not. I have a lot going for myself, and hopefully one day I can at least get to the point where you guys are. You’re a smart young lady Britni, and so are a lot of you here who have made comits.
    I’m forever trying to figure out any and whatever way I can come up with to make it work for myself and for others as well.
    If we can help and assist each other with what we know and make it to work for us our own selves. You guys are writters, and very good ones at that. Being book smart, intelligent, writers, etc; what else can you ask for?

    I’m an entrepreneur, a business woman, and my mind is forever thinking of a better way to make it for my family, myself and for others too as well.
    I’ve been trying to get noticed for a little over a year now, trying to bring it to the attention to the world, and at the same time trying to get the funds to help adults with learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc. It’s been somewhat difficult, but it’s coming along so so too.
    I have a time trying to express myself, while writing and talking at times, which makes it hard for people to understand what I’m trying to say. I have a lot of good ideas, and would love it Britni, if you can do a story on me and what I’m trying to do. I can explain it more in detail, but it would really make my day. Pleas esay yes, and I hope to hear back from you soon. I can be in touch on on of my fb groups, it’s called “Young Adults & Adults with Learning Disabilities (Dyslexia), my email raemelle_c@yahoo.com, and I’m also on the regular facebook. Thanks for reading………:-).

  • Dvinebeauti

    At my age, I measure success different than in my 20s or 30s. It’s about being happy even if my happiness doesn’t looks like yours. Most of us use social media to give hope and encouragement to each other. I am very transparent and share my ups and downs of my life. But I am always careful because on the internet nothing dies. I need to responsible to my kids and any other generations of my family to not be so caught up in sharing that I hurt them. We are all successful but it is society’s expectation of success we battle with. Doing what you love is success even when you credit is jacked up, your money is fun and your job is the pits. If you have one thing that keeps you going and makes you smile and you’re above ground its a good day!

    • BritniDanielle

      I totally feel you…and agree! We certainly have to define success on our own terms & I’m trying…scratch that…I am. It’s still hard tho.

      • Dvinebeauti

        I do understand. Years again I was published in the first issue of O Magazine. My dream and passion was to write. It was simple a reader’s letter but to my friends and family they had just thought I became Toni Morrison. Like you, I felt some kind of way. But a good friend told me “never allow others to define you or your successes”. I have held on to that. You are doing it! And it is not hard because every personal satisfaction and joy in our lives is success. I wish you continued successes. Many of us dream but very few of us turn those dreams into visions; those visions into plans and those plans intp achievements. You have! That is truly successful!

  • http://www.allthingsbeautifulblog.com/ Alyssa Bacon-Liu

    There is so much truth in here! It is SOOO easy to act like we have it all together on social media but few people know the daily grind of our lives! Things we do on social media may seem like our “big break” but sometimes they are just a cool experience and nothing more. Great post, I totally relate. (even though it is pretty awesome you met oprah!)

  • http://www.amway.com/patrickwatts Patrick

    thank-you sooooo much for this synopsis and dissertation, this sheds so much enlightment on people and society in general! Nothing is ever what it seems! Everyone is going through something no one will ever know, and I mean EVERYONE! The only thing that can really save any of us is a higher universal power or God himself, keep doing your thing, you are definitely no fool, everything will work out for your benefit and best interest as much as possible, At the end of the day no matter what scale of success you are on, human beings are still imperfect, and it will be that way until the end of time, God bless! thanks again for this!

  • ATONYA.

    I just stumbled across this on ” the ‘nets” by accident (i suppose) and i really appreciate the honesty and transparency, its one to chew on & i hear u, thx.