Oprah Comes Calling
Ceci Aikens was working at William W. Hall Elementary School in Capitol Heights on Wednesday when the phone rang. Stuck in a classroom full of students, she couldn’t answer.
But she could get to a computer – and so she went to the internet to check the unfamiliar number. “I thought, ‘Who’s calling me from a 312 area code?’” she said. Once Aikens, 23, of Upper Marlboro, realized that the call was coming from Chicago, she checked her messages straight away.
It was the call she hoped for: She’d been offered two tickets to the Jan. 19 taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the Kennedy Center’s Opera House.
“I really wanted to get tickets,” said Aikens, “not really for myself, but for my mom.”
“Well, for myself too,” she added.
Earlier this week, we noted that the show’s production company got 5,000 ticket requests online in under two hours. Now, it seems, the lucky ones -- the Opera House seats 2,300 -- are getting ticket offers via telephone.
(Some more details about the taping are emerging, too: Aikens said she was told to expect to be there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and to avoid wearing white, beige or black.)
Aikens, who is studying to be a teacher at the College of Notre Dame, says she visited Oprah’s web site around 12:15 p.m. -- just 30 minutes before the submission form was taken down. She filled out her information, including a personal statement.
“I wrote that I’m a 23-year-old African-American studying not to be the leader of the nation, but the leader of a classroom,” she said. Aikens says she represents the fourth generation of teachers in her family -- which until this summer included her great-grandmother, who died in June at 101.
“She didn’t live to see the election of Obama,” Aikens said. “It would be an honor if I could be there. I wasn’t able to experience Dr. Martin Luther King for myself.”
Aikens has an amusing relationship with Oprah: She says she watched the show with her mother “basically since birth,” but stopped when, at 12, a letter to the celebrity asking for a computer for her school went unanswered. That vow didn’t keep, and she now watches occasionally.
On Jan. 19, Aikens plans to watch again -- with her mother -- in person.
Washington Post Editors
December 10, 2008; 7:39 PM ET
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