Winfrey, 61, is now speaking out about the incident and the man that she had once tried to help in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
In the sit down chat, the former talk show host details how she met Calvin Mitchell in the early 90’s while she was filming the TV movie There Are No Children Here. She describes herself as being taken by the boy and wanting to help when she found out he and his family were stuck in the projects
Winfrey took it upon herself to try to help them out by enrolling Mitchell in a local private school and moving the family to a better home. But hope turned to disappointment when the school principal informed her that the boy had been missing classes.
The family’s excuse was that they couldn’t get up on time to get the boy to school.
“We realized they don’t have any clocks in the house,” Winfrey says. “We went out, Stedman and I, went to K-Mart that moment, got a bag full of clocks, came back to the house, taught them how to set the alarm and all that.”
But those efforts didn’t prevent Mitchell from getting expelled from the school.
“I had a long conversation with him about how disappointed I was but I was going to give him another chance,” Winfrey explains to Nancy O’Dell. “I found a school in Mississippi that was a private boarding school because I thought if I could remove him from the environment that he’d been accustomed to growing up in, that maybe that would be helpful to him.”
However, Mitchell voiced discontent with the school and Winfrey had her last conversation with him in the early nineties.
That was until Winfrey got wind that the young man had sold his story to a tabloid.
“As I left, and he was looking so forlorn, he was like, ‘Can I speak to you?’ So I said to somebody on my team, ‘Will somebody get Calvin’s number so I can contact him later,” Winfrey says. “I didn’t realize the whole thing was a setup.
“When I realized the whole thing was a setup, I was no longer interested in speaking to him.”
Although Winfrey says she wasn’t hurt by the experience, she did admit she was left disappointed by the boy again, but counts it as a learning experience.
“I learned from that experience, if you really want to change somebody’s life, you gotta be able to spend enough time with them to change the way they think about what their life can be,” she says. “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.”