Oprah Winfrey has spoken out about how she met a 35-year-old man who has claimed he was so close to the media mogul as a child that she said she wanted to adopt him. She was photographed a few weeks ago with Calvin Mitchell who arrived at the taping of the Late Show, wanting to heal their 20-year estrangement.
The unlikely meeting between the little boy from a tough neighbourhood and the media mogul came when Calvin was cast as an extra on one of Oprah's TV projects.
Oprah Winfrey said she met Calvin Mitchell in the Nineties and tried to mentor him
On an interview with Entertainment, she said: "I met Calvin around the early '90s, I think it was 1992. I was doing a film for television called There Are No Children Here.
"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.
"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."
She and her partner Stedman Graham decided to pay for Calvin to attend a private school and help his mother get a job.
However, he ended up not cutting classes and was eventually expelled. "I had a long conversation with him about how disappointed I was but I was going to give him another chance."
Oprah enrolled her protégé in a Christian boarding school in Mississippi called The Piney Woods School, hoping that taking him out of his chaotic environment might provide the key to change.
Unfortunately he dropped out aged 17. "I said, 'Calvin, this is the moment. 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."
Oprah spoke to Calvin, now a truck driver, briefly and asked one of her staff members to get his phone number so she could contact him afterwards. He had made comments in the media, claiming that she had "abandoned" him after asking his mother if she could adopt him and that sent him into a deep depression.
When the TV personality realised that the meeting had been organised by a tabloid she became "hurt" and once again cut off contact.
The 61-year-old said she learned from her experience with Calvin's family, later starting a leadership programme for disadvantaged girls.
"(I realised) 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,’ she said.
"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."