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Is Sarah the White Oprah?

Sarah describes how much she and the legendary talk-show host have in common.

By Sarah Austin

Who said it!? Me? If Oprah was in technology and she was white, then she'd probably be me. If Oprah were to choose to be reincarnated as a white, privileged, half-Jewish girl from Marin country, California, then she'd probably say that I'm her first-pick candidate. We have sooo much in common. As a child, I always knew I had a little Oprah inside me. She was the only talk show host I was allowed to watch. My parents never gave me the opportunity to watch TV, but I could watch musicals, Disney, and Oprah. I grew up very sheltered from traditional media, to the point that I didn't know if Madonna was a band or a person. My parents would go out of their way to make sure that I didn't get to watch TV or have any exposure to the media – even magazines. Perhaps this is what sparked my fascination with storytelling and media.

1. We both got our start in radio as teenagers. Oprah got her start in radio when a local black radio station, WVOL, hired her to do the news part-time. Becoming the first black news anchor at the station, she worked her senior year of high school and again her first two years of college.

2. We have both interviewed the same people, such as Richard Branson, Ashton Kutcher, and Lady Gaga.

3. We were raised in the inner city. While I didn't live in the "Golden Ghetto" – aka my neighbor, Marin City – I was right next door in the rich white-Jewish town, Tiburon. However, I spent most of my time documenting the hardship and growing up with a community, Marin City, which was named the "Golden Ghetto," as Tupac Shakur grew up there. I was close to the community and had many friends who lived in the projects. It was so cool to be growing up spending most of my time close friends with the family and community who raised Tupac, but also the music, arts, and culture inspired me to make documentary films. I was a voice of how the diverse African-American communities were being pushed out by the real estate developers trying to tear down the projects and build McMansions. My films won several awards and Stanford University offered me a scholarship to move into the dorms and study new media in the Humanities department.4. We were both named after biblical characters. She's named after the Book of Ruth, and I am named after the wife of Abraham.

5. We both grew up on stage. As a child, Oprah played games, interviewing her dolls and loved public speaking any chance she could get. Her grandmother said that ever since she could talk she'd perform. I also loved performing in school musicals, dance shows, talent shows, singing on stage at the county fair, performing in a family band. I started performing and acting at the age of 6.

6. We both made a Forbes List. While Oprah ranks at the top of the highest-paid celebrities, I made Forbes’ “30 under 30” list this year.

7. We both love our dog. She said that when she went to her dad's house growing up, her dad wouldn't let her dog hang out and sit on the furniture. But now that she's rich and has what she wants, she spoils her dog and her dog can sit anywhere in the house.

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