Oprah’s name may come up a few times in this interview with lifestyle expert and author Jasmine Brett Stringer.
Stringer is an original OWN Ambassador, one of those ultimate Oprah Winfrey Network viewers.
Oprah will be pleased to know that Stringer worked me. She asked me to do this interview on a night when I was supposed to watch “Greenleaf,” the newest OWN drama and Tyler Perry’s “The Have and the Have Nots” with her. It didn’t go as planned because “Greenleaf” wasn’t on that night. Unfortunately, THATHN was.
It is possible to love Oprah and view Stringer’s guidelines for this interview as a hostage situation.
I was happy not to watch “Greenleaf.” I don’t like the patriarch and am not looking for a TV show to replace CBS’ “Good Wife” in my viewing habits. And while I like Perry as a human and occasionally get a kick out of Madea, overall I am underwhelmed by his movies and this THATHN show. Stringer is hooked.
“I love ‘The Haves and Have Nots.’ I grew up with a grandmother and great-aunt who had me watching soap operas and I still DVR ‘The Young and the Restless,’ ” said Stringer. “I am not a TV critic, but I think ‘Greenleaf’ is a game changer and elevator for OWN. They have another show coming in a few months — ‘Queen Sugar,’ Ava DuVernay’s show. … But ‘Greenleaf’ is for anyone who has a connection to the church, has southern roots, has quote unquote a dysfunctional family.”
“That would be everybody,” she agreed. “If you fall in one of those three categories, that would be a program you can enjoy.”
Oprah, FYI: Jasmine NEVER stops!
A former General Mills and Kraft employee who also worked for various consumer packaged goods companies in sales and marketing positions, Stringer also did marketing for a pharmaceutical company.
She can be both all business and a joyous presence, just plain upbeat in appearances on WCCO-TV and Fox 9. She wrote “Seize Your Life: How to Carpe Diem Every Day,” a book that encourages us to be aware, take action and appreciate.
About the book, Stringer said, “I tell everyone I had a baby. I say I had it before I got married.” She is married to a farmer who likes his privacy, therefore he goes by the code name 007.
Oprah sent the newlyweds a gift.
For this Q&A, I went Martha Stewart. I prepared a refreshing crab ceviche salad made even more exhilarating with watermelon. It’s popular in the Philippines. First saw it prepared on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” by St. Louis, Mo.’ s Guerrilla Street Food Truck. Tweaks were necessary because 007 doesn’t eat crab. I could not find “palm vinegar,” not even at United Noodle, or understand what one @guerrillastreet ingredient was. I improvised.
Watch the video to see my presentation of the salad, which I’ve used to torture @guerrillastreet on Twitter.
I don’t measure; here’s what is in it:
(Get the lumped crab in the can at Costal Seafood and brace for sticker shock. Or buy wild caught cod at Costco, which I broiled a little because in a practice run it did not seem to be turning less raw.)
Garlic chives (or regular chives)
Palm vinegar (I substituted a fruit vinegar from United Noodle)
Key Lime juice to which I added my favorite blossom honey
Black sesame oil (black, not the regular stuff)
Thai chili peppers (You only need 2)
Let it marinate 1 hour (or not). Pile the fish onto chunks of watermelon pieces cubed and assembled to look like a cityscape. This is my vision for the presentation for salad. It has not really worked yet.
Top it off with Italian parsley and mint and a little more of that sesame oil.
I think I need Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s help on the presentation. That’s right. I want to do a Q&A, @SplendidTable.
Q: How do you become a lifestyle expert?
A: That is the million-dollar question. I think a lifestyle expert is a new career; a title that was bestowed upon me and I gladly took it. I talk about all things lifestyle related, from seizing your life to entertaining to travel, to fun. My fun work encompasses a lot of general lifestyle topics; therefore, I’m a lifestyle expert.
Q: How did you become an Oprah Ambassador and are you the only one in the Twin Cities?
A: I am not the only one. I believe I am the only quote unquote founding member in the Twin Cities. [She named three others]. When OWN first launched about five years ago it was really not doing well; I was a huge Oprah fan; in fact, that’s how I actually got connected with WCCO. I had a farewell-to-Oprah party and Amelia [Santaniello, anchor] came to my party. When Oprah was saying, Give me some time, the network is just in its infancy and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m there.” My friends will tell you I was die-hard [about] some of the original programming, which is how I became a founding member of the OWN Ambassadors.
Q: Do you ever run to the grocery store looking schlubby?
A: Oh, all the time. I look terrible in my real life. True story: I go to the MAC, Minneapolis Athletic Club. One day I was in the back row struggling in a spin class, talking to this lady. We found out we lived in the same building and we were going to the same party that night. I saw her at the party. I went up to her. There weren’t that many brown faces in the room and she was like, Excuse me, do I know you? I was like, “Wait a minute, it’s Jasmine. We were just on bikes together early in the morning.” People probably don’t know me because I look like ahotmess.com.
Q: You were on your phone a minute ago. I was wondering if you could call Oprah?
A: No. I was tweeting. I tweeted that I was introducing you to “The Have and the Have Nots.”
Q: “Do you have Oprah’s phone number?’ is the more direct way to ask that question?
A: No, I don’t have her phone number.
Q: How much contact do you have with her?
A: You can’t put a timeline on it.
Q: You have met her?
Q: More than once?
Q: And she sent you a wedding gift?
A: Yes. Beautiful picture frames from Tiffany [& Co], and they were engraved.
Q: What does Oprah smell like?
A: I’ve met her, but I don’t think I’ve ever smelled her. I know she does wear perfume. This is what I want: Oprah, if you are watching [reading] this, I want to come over to your house and cook a meal with you because you’ve given me some good recipes. I love your shrimp and grits recipe; I have taken that as my own. I think it’d be fun to be in the kitchen with you and have a glass of wine. I know you have your new cookbook coming out with Weight Watcher meals.
Q: Let’s pretend Oprah is in the metro for “The Jason Show,” and she tells you she wants to visit your home. What are you going to prepare?
A: Watermelon and feta salad. Nice and light and refreshing and easy.
Q: In preparation for this interview, I watched a lot of “Super Soul Sunday,” from which I came away with a few questions.
A: OK. Wow. Think deep.
Q: What is your definition of God?
A: God is omnipresent. God is love. He’s everything. There is a minister in Atlanta, my hometown, and she said, “Mother, Father, God,” giving him not specific gender. But I kind of grew up with God as a man.
Q: Do you know anything about the power of acceptance, finding the current and going with it?
A: Oh, yeah, because that is my prayer every day to be in God’s will. Everything that happens is God’s will, so I accept that, even the perceived bad things.
Q: What has Oprah taught you, for sure?
A: I have to be me.[ But] I’ve always marched to my own beat. I was in a sorority in college, American University. My line name was North Star, ’cause I was always off doing my own thing.
Q: What do you read?
A: Every time there’s a book on “Super Soul Sunday,” I love reading one of those books. I also love to read trashy fiction because I do like some kind of drama.
Q: That’s obvious. You watch “The Haves and the Have Nots.”
A: I know. But I do read a lot of self-help. Judy Blume’s adult books. I also have favorite books. “The Alchemist,” that’s my favorite book, and I read that every single year.
Q: What is your weakness as a lifestyle expert?
A: That I’m in my head a lot. I assume people know and I need to communicate.
Q: Have you ever met Oprah’s best friend Gayle King, co-anchor of “CBS This Morning”?
A: Yeah. My second encounter with Ms. Winfrey was lunch, and Gayle came to the lunch. The last year I went to the “Belief” premiere and Gayle was there. And then a conversation, you got in on it, that Ms. Winfrey and I had about Vincent, [the now sadly closed French restaurant on Nicollet Mall]; about them coming to town to get the Vincent burger. She said Gayle was so into her Weight Watchers she wouldn’t want to cheat.
Q: King adds so much to that morning show. And I like her flirting with Charlie Rose. Were he open to it, I think there could be full-on romance, there?
A: Charlie is very chivalrous. He’s a Southern guy. If I didn’t have my 007 and lived in New York, I might be like, “[Hello,] Mr. Rose.” Charlie seems to have some swagger. He might be a little player-player.
Q: What did you think of the meal? I kind of did a Martha Stewart thing. I added no salt to it.
A: Not only did you do a Martha Stewart thing, I’m eating low sodium, low fat for my new Pritikin and Weight Watcher-approved [meals]. It was very tasty, healthy, very refreshing. I think I’m going to ask you to e-mail me the recipe.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try email@example.com and to watch her check out Fox 9’s “Jason Show.”