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Gloria Reuben went from ‘ER’ star to Tina Turner backup singer: ‘She changed my life’

In an emotional interview, Reuben recalled the lessons Turner taught her on resilience and confidence.

Gloria Reuben, who spent a full year touring with Tina Turner in 2000, still lives by the lessons the late singer taught her.

The "ER" actor recalled her relationship with the rock 'n' roll legend during a visit to TODAY May 25, the day after Turner's death was announced. The rock star died at age 83 in her Switzerland home, her publicist announced May 24.

“She literally changed my life in every possible way,” the 58-year-old actor said with clear emotion.

“I didn’t realize the possibilities if one just challenges themselves and one just has someone that says, ‘You know what? You can do this,’” she said. Turner, Reuben said, was that voice of encouragement for her.

Reuben first met Turner backstage after one of the singer’s concerts. At the time, she was looking to leave “ER” but didn’t know what was next for her.

“('ER') was very emotionally exhausting, and so I knew I needed something different,” she remembered. “I didn’t know what was going to be next. I just knew that I needed more music in my life. Music was always my first love," she said.

And then, Reuben said, she met Turner, and her next step became clear.

"We just kind of hit it off out the gate, as she does with everybody, because she was such (a) bright light. She was plugged into a whole ‘nother different energy source. She was the most generous person of spirit, and of talent and of intelligence and of support,” she continued.

TODAY’s Hoda Kotb said when Turner and Reuben met backstage, the “Simply the Best” singer told the actor, “I think you’re pretty. Do you want to come sing?”

Reuben ended up auditioning months later and joined Turner's "24/7" tour as a backup singer. From their first interaction on, Reuben was struck by Turner's confidence.

“One of the things that she taught me is this: You can reach for anything, you can do anything, you can overcome, you can walk through and sometimes you got to fight your way through trauma and grief and the past and you know what? It makes you who you are today,” Reuben said.

Turner overcame a physically, emotionally and financially abusive relationship with her first husband, Ike Turner. In 1990, Ike Turner confirmed he was abusive in an interview with People. She went on to revive her music career in her 40s and find lasting love with Erwin Bach, the man she called her "soul mate."

Reuben said her time with Turner is also helping her navigate her current phase in life. When leaving "ER," she had been clear in her intention to bring music into her life, then she met Turner. What could happen if she's equally specific in her intentions now?

"Lots of things are changing in my life right now," she said. "I've really been specific about (asking), 'What are my intentions? What are my intentions creatively, personally, spiritually, psychologically, for everything, every area of my life?'

“I may not know what the outcome will be,” she continued. “I may not know how those intentions will come to fruition. All I need to do is just be clear and specific. And let the divine handle the rest because that’s what happened with Tina.”

Reuben sees an enduring lesson there, one she passed on to the TODAY audience. “How I experienced Tina is a reminder that we can all overcome,” she said. Just be clear about what you want (and) keep your heart open.”