NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2015, 11:09 PM
Oprah Winfrey said she didn’t recognize Calvin Mitchell when he surprised her outside the Ed Sullivan Theater on Oct. 15. She said she stopped talking to him in the 1990s when he refused her help.
Oprah Winfrey has shed some light on her relationship with the so-called “secret son,” who awkwardly ambushed her this month at a Midtown TV taping.
Winfrey said the man who surprised her Oct. 15 outside the Ed Sullivan Theater was Calvin Mitchell, whom she took under her wing more than 20 years ago when she met him on the set of a movie she was filming.
She said she has no long-lost child.
“We were shooting in the projects in Chicago and I was sitting on set during a break, and this cute little sparkly-eyed boy came underneath the yellow tape to hand me a soda,” Winfrey told “Entertainment Tonight.”
“I was so charmed by him that I started talking to him about his family, his school life, and found out that he was in a situation where his mother didn’t have a job and they were stuck in the projects.”
Winfrey said she helped Calvin’s mother get a job and move out of the projects, but despite her best efforts Calvin was unable to make it work at two private schools she paid for.
“I said, ‘Calvin, this is the moment,” she recalled. “This is a seminal moment for you. I know you are 16 and can’t see the road ahead, but if you leave this school and refuse to get an education — I have tried to offer you an education twice — there isn’t another school I can put you in. If you leave this school, I am done. There is nothing else I can do.’ … And that was my last conversation with Calvin in the early ’90s.”
Winfrey said she didn’t immediately recognize Calvin when he approached her after a taping of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” earlier this month.
She said she was “disappointed” that he colluded with “The National Enquirer” to “set up” the awkward reunion. She instructed a staffer to get Calvin’s phone number.
Winfrey said that it was her experience with Calvin that inspired her to open her Leadership Academy for Girls in 2007.
“I learned from that experience,” Winfrey said. “If you really want to change somebody’s life, you’ve got to be able to spend enough time with them to change the way they think about what their life can be. It isn’t enough to give a person a new life or money or a new car, you have to teach them how to fish themselves.”