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Oprah Wants You To Know That Success Is A Process

Inspiration

Two weeks ago, billionaire and black girl magic extraordinaire, Oprah Winfrey, sat down with British Vogue editor-and-chief, Edward Enninful for her July cover feature to discuss a range of topics, from advice to her younger self to her hopes for the future. Amongst all the gems of knowledge, one tidbit stood out: she reminds young people that success does not happen overnight.

In response to Enninful's question, "What's the biggest frustration for you with young women in the world today?" Oprah explains:

"My biggest frustration is not just with young women, but young men, young people who think that success is supposed to happen *snaps* like that. They think there is not a process to it [and that] they're supposed to come out of college and have their brand. I recognize now that I have a brand, but I was resistant to be called a brand for many years… How I got to be a brand was every day making choices that felt like the right move, now that's the right move, and that's the right move… They don't understand that it is a process."

Yes, yes, and yes. We need to slow it down and reflect on our process. Society puts so much pressure on young people to figure everything out: "What do you do? What's your five-year plan? When will you have XYZ?" We're expected to have all the answers and take advantage of all possible opportunities, but it doesn't always work that way. Failure and uncertainty are important parts of the journey to success and the narratives we are constantly absorbing don't always paint the full story.

Later in the interview, both Oprah and Edward comment on how much pressure young people put themselves under, comparing themselves to the lives and stories of success we are constantly seeing on social media.

"You don't get to be the editor of Vogue magazine, by not working and working and working and working to get here. I love the theory of that there is 10,000 hours behind anyone who ever gets to be successful."
Behind every picture, every accolade, every #goals is a hustle, and likely a struggle, that will not make it to the headlines.

While it is so uplifting to see our peers and icons, both young and old, accomplishing amazing things, the majority of us are still figuring things out… and that's okay. This generation allows for unprecedented opportunities to succeed, but sometimes we just need to celebrate where we are right now and understand that there is no substitute for hard work.

Don't beat yourself up because you're not a self-made billionaire at 24 years old. Even Oprah had to serve her time and put in tremendous effort to succeed.

Take a deep breath, dust yourself off, speak your dreams into reality, and keep pushing forward. Success is a marathon not a sprint.

Edward Enninful Meets Oprah Winfrey | British Voguewww.youtube.com

Featured image via British Vogue/Still

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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