Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86. But throughout her lifetime, the poet touched many of this generation’s greatest influencers.
“Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock — a number of men have come here to my home in North Carolina to talk to me and ask me how I feel about this or that,” Angelou recalled in a December 2013 interview with George Stroumboulopoulos. “They’re all my children, I’ve accepted them as my children.”
One particularly memorable conversation was with Tupac Shakur while he was filming “Poetic Justice” with Janet Jackson in 1993. After Angelou heard the rapper was going through some personal problems, she pulled him aside and instructed him.
“I didn’t know who he was. He was into a big row with another young man so I said to him, ‘May I speak to you?’ and he was cursing, whoo. And I said, ‘When was the last time anyone told you how important you are?’ Did you know people stood on auction blocks and were bought and sold so that you could stay alive today?’
And finally he heard me and stopped talking and started to weep. I put my arms around him and walked him back into the arena and he quieted. I went back to my trailer and Janet Jackson came running in and said, ‘Dr. Angelou, I don’t believe you actually spoke to Tupac Shakur!’ And I said, ‘Darling, I don’t know him from 6-pack.’ I had never heard of him.”
Shakur died a few years later in 1996.
“I’m loving, but I’m tough,” Angelou says of her teaching method and how she reached younger generations. “I want young people to know you have to work very hard.”
Watch Angelou recall her emotional chat with Tupac below:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.