Oprah Winfrey Talks About Backlash Over “Leaving Neverland” And Leaving Acting
The Queen of Media Oprah Winfrey is the subject of an in-depth interview for the cover of The Hollywood Reporter’s first-ever Empowerment in Entertainment issue. Winfrey will receive the first-ever Empowerment Award at the accompanying Empowerment in Entertainment gala Tuesday (4/30) afternoon in Los Angeles. We absolutely LOVED this one — especially some gems she dropped about hateration, quitting acting AND “60 Minutes” and the current political climate.
Check out some key excerpts via THR below:
On advice she gave Gayle King on renewing her CBS News contract:
I said, “Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now’s the time. And if you don’t get what you want, then make the next right move.” Even without me, she was going to do that. But that was my advice, and I actually called up her lawyer, Allen Grubman, and I said, “Allen, she should get what she wants.” And Allen goes, “What the F do you think I’m doing here? I said the same thing to her!” The negotiation was already happening before her R. Kelly interview.
On her reaction to the R. Kelly interview:
I sent her a text saying, “Jesus looooves you.” But [the R. Kelly interview] could not have been better if I had done that myself. I think every interviewer thinks, “What would you have done in that moment?” And what she did was absolute perfection.
On why she recently left 60 Minutes:
I’ve removed myself from that. It was not the best format for me … How should I say this? Never a good thing when I have to practice saying my name and have to be told that I have too much emotion in my name…. I think I did seven takes on just my name because it was ‘too emotional.’ I go, ‘Is the too much emotion in the Oprah part or the Winfrey part?’ I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality — which, for me, is actually not such a good thing.
We love it. You’ve got to do what feels good and right for you and Oprah sends such a strong message by speaking openly about her decision to leave “60 Minutes” — of course she will have a great platform in the work she’s doing with Apple — so we’ll still get plenty of her journalistic side.
Hit the flip for more great quotes.
On who she will support in the 2020 election:
Right now, I’d probably want to sit down and talk to Butta [Pete Buttigieg] … “Mayor Pete” feels easier. I like saying “Butta.” (Laughs.) So I’m reading about him. I have Kamala’s book. I just got the Vanity Fair piece on Beto [O’Rourke]. I’d done some research background stuff on him before. I already know Cory [Booker]. So I’m quietly figuring out where I’m going to use my voice in support.
On the Beto O’Rourke Vanity Fair piece that claimed she “begged” him to run:
Oh, I do not think I practically begged him. When I read that, I thought, “That’s not accurate.” What I was practically begging for is, “Will you tell me if you’re going to [run] in this moment right now?” Even backstage, I was say – ing, “Well, when you are going to do it, will you let me know you’re going to do it?” Which he did not. So I’m sitting back, waiting to see. It’ll be very clear who I’m supporting.
The advice she gave Barack and Michelle Obama on beginning their own production company:
When they were starting, he called me for names to run [their company], and I offered him some. They ultimately were not the people he chose, but that’s fine. There’s nobody like them. Nobody. Their desire to want to use this medium to tell stories, to show us our history, to bring an informational, inspirational approach to content — I’m looking forward to seeing whatever that’s going to be.
Aren’t we all? We definitely love any and everything Obama related. What do you look forward to next from our forever first family?
On whether she regrets getting involved with Leaving Neverland:
I don’t regret it … I saw it, and I was shaken by it. I wasn’t even shaken by the fact that it was Michael Jackson, I was shaken by the fact that [filmmaker] Dan Reed had done a really good job of showing the pattern, and for years, I had been trying to show people the pattern. I’d been trying to say it’s not about the moment, it’s about the seduction. The first thing I said to Gayle when we watched it was, “Gayle, you’ve got to get those guys [on CBS This Morning].” She Instagrammed about it, and I go, “No, you shouldn’t Instagram, you should just get those guys.”
On the blowback:
Oh, the hateration? Honeeeeey, I haven’t had that much hateration since “The Puppy Episode” with Ellen [Winfrey guested as the therapist on the 1997 Ellen sitcom episode in which Ellen DeGeneres’ character comes out], and it made me think, “Thank goodness Ellen’s coming out was before social media because can you imagine?” During “The Puppy Episode,” I had to take the people who were on my switchboard at Harpo off the switchboard because of the vitriol. They were scared..
What were people saying about that episode?
The N-word, “Go back to Africa,” slut, hoes. … It became racist and homophobic and vile and “String ya up,” “It’s against the Lord.” I mean, you name it. Similar to the Michael Jackson thing. I happened to be on Twitter for something, and somebody had said, “Oprah Winfrey is a disgrace to the race” or something. Yeah, the whole race. I decided, you know what? This isn’t going to be healthy for me, so I just didn’t engage with it.
Did y’all even realize Oprah was hit so hard from that “Ellen” episode? We definitely recall them talking about it, but damn it’s such a shame how ugly opinionated Americans can act at times…
On whether she wants to return to acting:
No, it doesn’t feed me anymore … I think to be really, really good at it, you’ve got to do it a lot. You’ve got to work at it. And it’s got to be something that you have true passion about. I don’t think it’s something you can dabble in. It was fun to be Mrs. Which, and I did that because I wanted to go to New Zealand and wear the costumes. But no, it doesn’t feed my soul anymore.
Are you sad to hear Oprah is bidding farewell to film? We doubt that she’s completely done. Do you?
There’s more great gems to this interview, including how she feels she would have known better about the last presidential election outcome had she still been doing her daytime show, as well as her decision to purchase a private plane. You can read it HERE.