Oprah shocks Atlantans at "Belief" party

Winfrey's new 7-part series debuted Sunday night


Nothing is predictable about throwing a watch party. Is the house clean enough? Do you have enough food? Will Oprah show up?

Sunday night Oprah Winfrey stunned more than 50 people in Southeast Atlanta when she popped up at the home of Imara Canady, who was hosting a showing of Winfrey's new OWN Network series, “Belief.”

“It was pretty crazy,” Canady said, adding that his party has been heavily trending on social media. “It is pretty crazy seeing my living room all over the Internet.”

So how does one of the biggest stars in the world end up at the home of community activist and all-around Atlanta go-to guy Imara Canady anyway?  Canady said it started innocently enough about three months ago when he got a call from Joshua DuBois, the former head of President Barack Obama’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He was now working on a project with Winfrey.

“Belief” is a seven-part series created by Winfrey that explores faith from several perspectives. DuBois wanted to put Canady – who is active in the Baha’i Faith – on a conference call with the president of OWN to discuss the project. A week later, Canady was part of a larger conference call that included Winfrey talking about the project.

As they looked at ways to extend the discussions about faith and beliefs into communities, Canady said he was struck with the idea of hosting “dinners of dialogue, where we invite people into our homes to begin to break down these barriers.”

Winfrey loved it and invited Canady and others to her home in Montecito, Calif., for dinner and a private screening.

“So my spirit was really moved. I was moved by the series, and I know the power of bringing people together,” Canady said. “I extended an invitation to people to come and break bread with me. And for them to feel free to invite other people.”

Early Sunday, he got another call from DuBois, telling him some OWN executives were in town and might want to come by and watch the show at his house.

“No problem,” Canady said.

Then he got a call that there might be a couple of special guests.

“No problem,” Canady repeated, as he prepared his home for about 60 people.

An hour before the show started, Canady got another call. Oprah might come by. Oprah was in town on another project, “Greenleaf,” a new OWN/Lionsgate project that is set in Tennessee but films here in Atlanta.

“We kept it a surprise to all the guests,” Canady said. “Then during a commercial break she knocked on the door and I introduced her to the room. They went nuts!”

Dressed in a simple black T-shirt over a white long-sleeved shirt, Winfrey just walked in, plopped down in front of the television and watched – just like everyone else.

“It never was like it was anybody else but a wonderful person who decided to come share the evening with us,” Canady said. “I never felt like my house wasn't good enough or clean enough. She came just like everybody came.”

But she was also funny, took selfies, tweeted and carried on meaningful discussions about the show.

“Oprah's 'Belief' was a cinematic masterpiece about faith and how spirituality is viewed around the world,” said celebrity blogger Ray Cornelius. “It was also an opportunity for us to see that we are more alike than we are different. Last night's viewing was special and Oprah's appearance made it magical."

Canady said Winfrey stuck around until about 10:30 p.m.

He didn’t say whether or not the mogul helped him clean up.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Chamblee’s assistant police chief appointed interim police chief
Chamblee’s assistant police chief appointed interim police chief

The city of Chamblee has appointed Assistant Chief Mike Beller to Interim Police Chief effective July 2, according to a press release. Beller has been with the Chamblee Police Department since 1997 and is a veteran of the US Army, where he was an Airborne Ranger Infantry Team Leader and a graduate of the US Army Sniper School. The city has engaged...
UPDATE: Deadly motorcycle crash shuts down Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta 
UPDATE: Deadly motorcycle crash shuts down Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta 

A deadly motorcycle crash investigation has shut down most lanes of Moreland Avenue south of I-20, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. Only one southbound lane is open between I-20 and Glenwood Avenue while emergency crews are on scene, the Traffic Center reported.  Atlanta police said a motorcyclist was killed in a collision with...
JUST IN: Woman shoots ex-boyfriend after he kicks in front door, South Fulton police say
JUST IN: Woman shoots ex-boyfriend after he kicks in front door, South Fulton police say

A woman shot her ex-boyfriend after he kicked in the front door of her South Fulton home, police said. “Once he entered the residence, the victim warned him several times that she was armed and she would shoot him,” South Fulton police spokeswoman Ashley Minter-Osanyinbi said Thursday in a statement. “He continued into the house...
‘You could hear the screams’: Mother, adult son killed in house fire
‘You could hear the screams’: Mother, adult son killed in house fire

A mother and her adult son were killed in an early morning house fire in southwest Atlanta, neighbors told Channel 2 Action News. Witness Lynn Blake said she could hear the man and woman screaming for help from inside the two story house in the 10 block of Pope Street. “Traumatizing,” she told the news station. “You could hear the...
UPDATE: Man found dead in Gwinnett County neighborhood lake, police say
UPDATE: Man found dead in Gwinnett County neighborhood lake, police say

Police said they found a body floating in a lake in a Gwinnett County neighborhood Wednesday night, Channel 2 Action News reported. The body was recovered from Lake Carlton near Loganville after neighbors spotted it about 9 p.m., Gwinnett police Maj. J.T. McDowell told the news station. “We have a male, appears to be in the water for at least...
More Stories