There's a select club of experts who have been blessed by Oprah Winfrey's stamp of approval over the years, and Nate Berkus is one of them. The 41-year-old interior designer was already a successful businessman in Chicago when he got a fateful call to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2002. In a recent one-on-one interview about his appearance on OWN's "Super Soul Sunday," Berkus talked about how his connection with Winfrey changed his life.
Being on 'Oprah' changed Berkus' lifeBerkus conceded that being on that debut episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" didn't make him an overnight sensation. "The first experience didn't change my life at all," Berkus recounted, "But what did change my life significantly was working with a group of people who I still feel were the most talented, most resourceful group of people in television and watching them navigate under the work ethic that nothing was impossible -- that we could figure out a way to get anything and everything done. And I applied that to my own life."
When "The Oprah Winfrey Show" went off the air, Berkus had the opportunity to launch his own syndicated talk show. After years of watching the queen of daytime at work, he tried to apply the one big lesson he'd learned from her to his own series.
Oprah taught Berkus to be authentic"When the cameras are on, it should feel the same way as when the cameras are off," Berkus explained, "and authenticity is something that the audience really responds to and responds to positively. And they respond very negatively when it's not there. So the largest lesson that I brought with me from Oprah that I applied to the show was just to remain authentic."
Now Berkus is sitting down with Winfrey for a two-part interview on "Super Soul Sunday." While some might be intimated by the concept, Berkus acknowledged, "Oprah and I have become very good friends and see each other fairly often. And when we do, we talk exactly like we talked when we filmed the special. For me, I was totally comfortable."
Berkus discusses 'Things That Matter'That's good, because Berkus already touched on some sensitive subjects in part one of the interview, and there's more to come this Sunday. "The Nate Berkus Show" was canceled after two seasons. And, even more importantly, the designer was involved in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, losing his partner Fernando Bengoechea in the tragedy.
But Berkus's life has also had many ups. The most recent is a new book titled "The Things That Matter." The tome explores the stories behind the design in 14 individuals' homes. As for the three things that matter the most to him, Berkus simply stated, "People, pets, and relationships."
And, of course, a well-thought-out interior. As Berkus conceded, "We're taught that things shouldn't matter, that to care about things or to care about being surrounded by beautiful things means that we're materialistic or shallow. But I've never believed that."
Years ago, Berkus interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou, who validated this concept. As he recalled, "She had said to me, 'Well, of course, I love surrounding myself with beautiful things that delight my eye.' And I started thinking about the idea that who we are, and where we've been, and the histories of our families, and who we've loved, and who we've lost, and how we live, and what we choose to fill our homes with really does or should tell that story of who we are."
Check out Nate Berkus's new book "The Things That Matter" and visit his official website.
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