It’s Friday and they are live in Chicago. Thank you, says Oprah. So, like many others, she is a working mother who carpools and makes a mean chocolate chip cookie, but she lives in a palace. Take a look. Queen Rania of Jordan is one of the most intriguing and beautiful women on the planet. She has 1 1/2 million followers on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter,- she is plugged in to social media. Born in Kuwait to middle-class Palestinian parents, Rania al Yassin was busy pursuing her own career when she met Jordan’s Prince Abdullah at a dinner party. Five months later, 22-year-old Rania married the prince and started a family. In 1999, Jordan’s ailing King Hussein made a shocking announcement, and named his son, Prince Abdullah—not his own brother—as heir to the throne. At 28 years old, Rania became the world’s youngest queen.
It’s been a few years, says Oprah but we welcome her back, “Welcome back Her Majesty Queen Raina”. Oprah says that it must be great to be queen, Queen Raina says there are good days. Queen Rania says she doesn’t think of herself as royalty at heart. “Eighty percent of my life is normal like any other mother. I worry about my children, if they’re doing all right. I worry that my husband is doing well,” she says. “The 20 percent is just the queen aspect that factors in. But for me, it’s life as usual and it’s just taking care of my family.” Oprah asks if she has anything to worry about. She thinks about the 6 million people in her country and the issues that affect them. It is overwhelming sometimes. Queen Rania says her day begins like any other mom’s—getting the kids ready for school. “There’s a typical mayhem in the morning of taking care of the children, making sure they’re ready for school and they’ve had their breakfast and everything,” she says. “I have some help, but there’s some things that only a mother can do.”Once the kids are off to school, Queen Rania says she has a little time to herself. “I go into my email, check my Twitter, all that kind of thing,” she says. “If I have the energy, I’ll do a little bit of exercise.” Oprah asks what she Tweets about? Oprah says that she is too busy to use Twitter. Queen Raina finds that her online self is easier to get close to- her title keeps people at a distance. She finds that being online demystifies what she does and open a window into her life. She wants to hear how people really are, and reaching so many people changes how things work. She can reach out and use it as a good tool to educate and break down the barrier between East and West. “My virtual self can get closer to people easier than my real self,” she says. “People sometimes think of queen as a title that’s shrouded with protocol and formality, and for that reason sometimes people are not easily saying what they want to say. They’re reluctant to express their opinions, and I kind of find that frustrating because I want to know what people really, really think. “Being online “creates a space where titles mean little and people can just say what they want,” she says. “It opens a window to my life and opens a window for me into other people’s lives so I can see what people are thinking or what the sentiment out there is all about.”
Last month she hosted a fabulous event with a star studded guest list where she took Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and others to her favorite places in Jordan. She shows Oprah some photographs of the Dead Sea, the desert, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the beach. She says that there are many diverse experiences in such a small country. When people come to the Middle East, she says that people are always surprised by the warmth of the welcome they receive. In Bedouin culture, hospitality is the highest virtue. It is important for them to have happy guests, and they serve great food, so don’t go there to lose weight.
In July 2009, it was announced that Queen Rania’s oldest son, Prince Hussein, would be heir to the throne of Jordan. Queen Rania admits she had mixed feelings about the decision. “A mom part of me wants him to just have a normal life and just have the normal teenage experience and have friends and not have any pressure,” she says. “But another part of me understands that by having the title, he can learn more about the people, the problems and the protocol of our country.” Oprah asks how to raise kind, warm generous kids whe they are born with a lot? Queen Rania says she works hard to keep her children grounded. “With my son, I make sure that he understands that he, at the end of the day, needs to be a decent guy,” she says. “He needs to be compassionate and inclusive.” Queen Rania says she most hopes her son learns that it’s more important to be likable than popular. “Being popular comes when you have everything,” she says. “But to be liked, it means that you must be treating people with respect and you must be showing kindness toward them.”
Oprah asks what they do to whoop it up for the night. Queen Rania says their favorite thing to do is stay in for a movie night. “Just sitting around eating popcorn,” she says. She liked Avatar, as did Oprah. “The Hurt Locker was great. The Hurt Locker was filmed in Jordan, actually.” Oprah asks what she eats to pig out- not that she looks like she pigs out. Queen Raina says she loves chocolate and peanut butter and jelly. She has a good appetite, she is not a picky eater. To help teach tolerance, Queen Rania wrote a new children’s book, The Sandwich Swap. The story of two little girls who learn a lesson in tolerance when they swap sandwiches. The story is based on something that happened to the queen herself when she was 5 years old.
Queen Raina says that it is nearly 10 years since 9/11. It was a horrible day that “shook humanity.” “We’re still suffering from the aftershocks. There was the physical stuff that we saw—the destruction, the death,” she says. “But there was invisible stuff—the fear that entered our hearts. The mistrust that we view when we see new places or new faces. The suspicion that informs our decisions.” All of a sudden, anyone who was different became more visible. This to Queen Raina is one of the cruelest legacies of that event because it changed the world, changed what is between East and West. At the time, she was a new queen and she was feeling her way through and was suddenly bombarded with questions. It made her realize that there is such a lack of understanding between both sides. The fact that Queen Raina can transition so easily between East and West is probably because of her upbringing. “I went to an international school, and I used to go every day and at lunchtime I would proudly open my lunch box to find my hummus sandwich,” she says. Oprah asks her to explain what hummus is. Oprah likes to use it as a dip. “The girl sitting next to me, she was eating something that I thought looked horrible. It was just this gooey, pasty, brown-purpley stuff.” Queen Raina felt sorry for her, One day, the girl offered Queen Rania a bite. “I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I kind of scrunched up my face and closed my eyes and took a bite. And then I wanted to take another bite,” she says. Which is when her love affair with peanut butter and jelly started. She was 5 years old. “On a subconscious level, I think I understood that I shouldn’t fear the unknown, that I shouldn’t judge something without trying it.” From that point on she began to embrace differences. Oprah says that in the book animosity arises from the sandwich and they begin to call each other names and make judgements about other things. For Queen Raina, that is a metaphor between east and west. There is so much animosity, and the sandwiches also show what can happen with the peanut butter and hummus. It’s a simple childhood story that Queen Rania says adults in the East and West can learn from. “If we don’t look each other in the eye, if we keep our backs to each other, then we’re never going to see face to face,” she says. “I think that that’s a tragedy and we all stand to lose by that.”
Oprah says that Queen Raina seems so wise and yet she is not yet forty. Queen Rania says that she is almost 40. She says she still feels like a kid inside. Oprah says that she always will, it’s just a number. “The lines crept on my face when I wasn’t looking,” Queen Rania says. “Now when I go to department stores and the saleswoman’s like, ‘Do you want to try this anti-wrinkle cream?’: ‘Who is she talking to? She must be talking to somebody else.’” Still, Queen Rania says she’s ready to embrace aging. “We’re programmed to believe that time is the enemy, that it takes away from us or that it diminishes us,” she says. “I have found that it’s done the opposite to me. Life is in perfect balance. It’s just that our perception of it isn’t.” With time she has more confidence, she is more sure footed, she can put things in perspective and not worry about the small stuff. Oprah says that it only gets better, the confidence when you turn 40 gets bigger and you become more of yourself. Queen Raina wants to embrace it and enjoy it. Oprah says that she makes 40 look really good. Queen Raina has agreed to sign the No Phone Zone Pledge, the first queen to do so. Oprah signs the Queen’s One Goal petition for education because when you educate a girl and save her life, you educate a community. She thanks Queen Raina.
She’s a powerhouse and her new album Fearless Love hits stores this week. Grammy-winning artist Melissa Etheridge has been rocking out for more than 20 years. Come on out Melissa, says Oprah. Oprah asks how she is doing, and Melissa says that she is alright. Nine years were spent with her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels; recently, Melissa and Tammy announced they were breaking up, and Melissa says she’s ready to talk about it. In seven minutes, says Oprah. Melissa knows that you can’t distill a relationship in a few minutes. “People really want that sound bite of this happened and that happened and he said and she said and something like that, but it’s not that simple,” she says. “It’s about growth, and it’s certainly not even fair of me to stand here and tell my story when Tammy doesn’t have an opportunity.” Melissa says the breakup was mutual. “As mutual as those things can be. It’s sad, and we share two children and she will always be in my life,” she says. “She’s a wonderful woman and an incredible mother.”
Oprah asks if it is true that when women break up there is a mutual understanding about the sharing of the children and not as much fighting. Melissa says that she doesn’t know about that but she and Tammy both agree that the children come first. “We want to do all the things that are best to keep our children healthy and secure,” she says. With every life experience, like a breakup, Melissa says she learns more about personal growth. “As I’ve gone through this life, having gone through breast cancer almost six years ago now,” (the crowd applaud) “it’s about evolving,” she says. She’s 49, and says that the 40’s were an incredible learning experience. Oprah says that the 40’s are about learning who you are and the 50’s are about being everything that you have been meaning to be. Good, awesome, says Melissa. “I feel like now I’m walking my life. I’m realizing that I’m no good to anyone else unless I’m completely in love with myself and good with myself.” Yeah, says Oprah and the crowd cheer.
Melissa says that she doesn’t know why they say that there is no gay marriage when she has two ex-wives and children from both relationships. She still lives near her first wife, Julie. Oprah asks if her cancer was a wake up call to her, rather than letting it destroy her. Melissa says cancer was an eye-opener for her. “That’s what [my new] album is about. It’s about every day our choice between love and fear. And cancer was the first real huge one for me,” she says. “I can look at cancer as a disease that picks me out and ‘why me,’ or I can look at it through love and say ‘This is a wake-up call. This is my body telling me: Hey, you’re out of balance here. It’s time to get in line with yourself.’” Oprah says that she loves the new title of the album, and asks if it hard to stay in a position of fearlessness. Life really is what you make of it, Melissa says. “You have to make a choice to perceive life as: ‘Is this the most horrible thing that ever happened to me? Or is this the greatest opportunity for me?’”
Oprah says that you have to have some crying time. Melissa says that she was reading A Brief History of Everything and then the cancer came and that opened everything up and it has been an awesome path so far, especially working with Al Gore. Melissa says she’s finally realized that life is about the journey. “Especially in our sort of work where we think that there’s a ‘there.’ There’s a place that we can be the most successful or something. It doesn’t exist,” she says. Oprah shouts hello to the bucket listers in the audience. Melissa says “I don’t have a bucket list because it is my dedication to live every day of my life there. I don’t have a bucket list because I’m doing it that day. I don’t want to go to bed and say, ‘Oh, I wish I had done this.’” Oprah says that you can’t just get tickets to her show, it has to be on a bucket list. For some people it has been ten years or so.
She’s strong, she’s clear and fearless, says Oprah, give it up for Melissa Etheridge. Melissa sings her new song, Fearless Love. That is so great, so great, the hairs on Oprah’s head were rising, she says. She hugs Melissa and says again, that was so great.
Do not miss next Thursday, Oprah’s interview with Rielle Hunter. Over 85 million books sold and a smash hit at the box office, Twilight is a phenomenon. Only the Oprah show has an exclusive preview of the new movie trailer, Eclipse, but before they show it, Dakota Fanning joins Oprah by Skype from LA. Dakota is a little sick with a raspy voice. Oprah shows the little doll that Dakota gave her a few years ago when she was on for Charlotte’s Web- Dakota remembers it like it was yesterday. Dakota was honored to be in Twilight; her role, costumes and red eyes are amazing and she is so happy to be part of the phenomenon. The red eyes are hand-painted contacts that the technician puts in every morning. They take a little time to get used to “they are a little blurry and you can’t see out of your peripheral, but you look cool and that is all that matters.” Oprah asks if she was into the phenomenon before she was in the film. Yes, she has read all the books and she hasn’t met anyone who is a teenage girl and isn’t a fan. Oprah gave her girls in Africa the books and that was their, and their moms, favorite present. The crowd cheer. Oprah says that we have all watched Dakota grow up, but Oprah thinks that Dakota has done an incredible job of being so grounded and so sweet. She is a junior at high school, she thinks she’ll go to the prom. She doesn’t have a date, she may just decide to go with her friends. Oprah asks how she is an A-list movie star and yet so grounded. Dakota says that she has a normal family and going to school helps a lot, as do her supportive friends, and she has the help of others. Oprah says that she is also gracious, and asks if being in Twilight has given her extra cool points. Yes, her school is K-12, so all through the school people think that it’s cool. Little kindergarteners, says Oprah, can you imagine? Dakota laughs.
Oprah says that the moment all the Twi-hards have been waiting for is here. Dakota introduces the exclusive worldwide premiere of The Twilight Saga Eclipse. They play the trailer. The crowd scream and applaud. Tantalizing, Oprah whoops and whoahs. The movie will be in theaters on, June 30th. Oprah will have Dakota and all the other big stars in the studio for a Twilight special on Thursday May 13th. Oprah thanks Dakota and wishes her a good day at school.
Finally they have their own phone app, says Oprah. Starting today Oprah.com is mobile and downloadable on smartphones, for a small fee. Instant alerts for last minute tickets for the show will be available as well as Tweets, guest news, exclusives and more. Don’t forget next week is National No Phone Zone Day. Melissa Etheridge has agreed to sign the pledge. She agrees that she will stop texting on the freeways and says that the car should be a place for meditation. Have a great weekend everybody, says Oprah.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
Queen Raina of Jordan uses Twitter, Facebook and her blog to connect with the world and try to break down the barrier between East and West.
Oprah says that the 40’s are about learning who you are and the 50’s are about being everything that you have been meaning to be.
Melissa Etheridge says that she doesn’t know why they say that there is no gay marriage when she has two ex-wives and children from both relationships.
You have to make a choice to perceive life as: ‘Is this the most horrible thing that ever happened to me? Or is this the greatest opportunity for me?’
Red contact lenses makes things a little blurry and you lose your peripheral vision, but you look cool and that is all that matters.
A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:
Queen Raina tweets, Melissa Etheridge sings and Dakota Fanning acts to connect with their fans.