By Alyssa Pereira

When local hula hoop performer Revolva was contacted by Harpo’s event company to perform at Oprah’s “Live the Life You Want” event stop in San Jose earlier this winter, she was beyond thrilled.

Thrilled, that is, until Harpo conceded that they wouldn’t be compensating her for hours, effort, or travel.

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Unfortunately for Revolva (and many, many other creative workers), the Harpo organization didn’t feel that they should pay her, despite the fact that tickets cost attendees anywhere from $99-$999 just to get a foot in the door, and that the tour is headlined by one of America’s wealthiest.

(Courtesy of Revolva)

(Courtesy of Revolva)

Still, Harpo event producers didn’t “have a budget for that.” From Revolva:

I should have known that, in the phone call with your producer, there was a deep spiritual lesson in store for me. Here is our paraphrased conversation:

Producer: “Your stuff sounds great. Are you interested?”

Me: “Hell yes! Oprah! Oprah!”

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Producer: “Okay, so just to be clear, you’d be on a stage outside the event. And, you know, just to be clear, Oprah will not be on that stage. Oh, and just to be clear, this gig isn’t paid.”

Rather than accepting the gig, Revolva penned an essay about the ordeal, explaining that a line must be drawn when it comes to expecting artists to work for free:

Back to that spiritual lesson you had in store for me, Oprah. Maybe it’s because my car broke down, and I’m struggling. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and after all the requests for free or discount work, the one by a billionaire’s tour was the straw that broke my back. But I thought it through, and achieving “the life you want” is not always easy. The risks we have to take, to transform this culture into something more nurturing, involve looking at the way things are and saying, “Hey, wait. That’s not cool!”

Even if we have to say that to Oprah Winfrey.

We’ve reached out to the Harpo organization and the event producers and they have not yet responded.

And, since you won’t be able to see Revolva at the Oprah event, here’s a video of what you’re missing.

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For more information about Revolva or contact information, head to her site or read the whole blog post here.
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