- Last Updated on 12:00 AM 03/25/11
- BY Katherine Lee Francis
It is a rare chance to get tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show, but for Gayle Irving of South Boston and her daughter, Jemekka Richardson of Charlotte, N.C., that opportunity occurred last month when they were selected to attend a taping of the show.
Irving said she has been a huge fan of Oprah for many years.
One day in conversation with her daughter Irving mentioned she really wanted to see Oprah in her last season.
Richardson told her mother, “Mom you know you have to go through this process in order to get tickets and then wait for a window to open, but I am going to see if I can make it happen.”
She logged onto the Oprah website and registered to apply for tickets.
Irving said she teased her daughter everyday and asked, “Jemekka have you checked on my tickets?
“Then one day out of the blue, the window opened up, and she was able to get to apply for tickets,” added Irving.
As part of the steps in applying for tickets, they had to pick a show in which the pair would be most interested in attending, and Richardson chose the taping in which actress, singer and Weight Watcher’s spokesmodel Jennifer Hudson was expected.
Then as part of the application process, Irving said her daughter was prompted to explain how Hudson had inspired her to change her life.
Her daughter wrote that she had been trying to lose weight had some Tootsie Rolls on her desk.
“I walk by them everyday, and Jennifer gives me the motivation not to eat these Tootsie Rolls,” Richardson wrote.
A couple of days later, Richardson received an email saying she had been chosen to receive tickets.
She replied to the email, and soon she and her mother were off to Chicago to see Oprah.
Irving said her daughter told her the trip was really for her even though she had been chosen to attend The Oprah Show.
“It was a favor of God for my daughter and I to be chosen,” said Irving.
The pair flew from Charlotte to Chicago to witness the taping of The Oprah Show.
“Chicago was covered in snow when we got there, and I have never seen so much snow. They had just had a blizzard move through, but everything was still up and running,” Irving said.
While in Chicago the mother and daughter stayed at the Sax Chicago Hotel.
The taping occurred on Feb. 4, and Irving and Richardson were requested to be at Harpo Studios very early in the morning.
“You are not allowed to take anything into the studio, and security was high. They took your jacket, pocketbook, phone and camera and placed it into a secure vault,” Irving said.
The energy was high in the studio waiting for the show to begin, said Irving.
“Everyone in the studio was talking to each other and was so excited to be there.”
According to the recent Oprah show audience member, the huge studio doors opened and out stepped Oprah herself.
“We all began to scream because we couldn’t believe it was Oprah. She had on no make-up and didn’t have her hair fixed. She was so laid back and so down to Earth,” Irving said.
Oprah explained to audience members Jennifer Hudson was on her way from Dallas, Texas, and taping would be delayed, but food and entertainment would be provided for everyone.
According to Irving, healthy snacks were provided for everyone, and some members of the audience volunteered to participate in karaoke.
After a slight but fun delay, taping of the show began.
Hudson along with several members of her family were Oprah’s guest.
Hudson who is the newest spokesmodel for Weight Watchers, along with her family have lost more than 2,000 pounds, according to Irving.
Also appearing on that day’s show, which aired Feb. 10, was Project Runway host Tim Gunn.
According to Irving, Gunn showed the audience how to dress in order to make themselves feel good about their body.
As part of his appearance, everyone in the audience received a copy of his new book.
Then came the big surprise, Irving said each audience member was given a year’s worth of Weight Watchers valued at $1,500 for themselves and two others.
Irving gave hers to her godchild’s mother, Lisa Edmunds of South Boston, and her daughter’s friend, Shonda Gaddy of Charlotte, N.C.
Irving started her Weight Watchers program at the end of February and attends meetings every Thursday night at The World of Sports in South Boston.
Her goal is to lose 50 pounds and possibly more if she “gets on a roll.”
So far Irving has lost four pounds and is very proud of herself.