Oprah on wanting spiritual programming on OWN: ‘I was delusional’

69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards

I wish I could properly describe how much I enjoyed Oprah’s cover interview with The Hollywood Reporter. It’s not that Oprah says brilliant quote after brilliant quote, it’s just HER MIND. The way she processes things, the casual way she flexes her power mid-interview and then in the next breath, she is humble enough to admit only recently learning some business lesson. She talks about politics, Michael Jackson and Me Too and her huge new deal with Apple TV and why she bought a private plane. She basically says everyone at CBS is an a–hole except for Gayle King. She decimates Beto O’Rourke in a few sentences and jokes about Pete Buttigieg’s name. She’s epic and this is an epic read. I would honestly suggest that you get a cup of coffee and just spend the 30 minutes really absorbing Oprah’s awesomeness. Some highlights:

What she knows about politics in Trump’s America: “I know that there is an underlying level of discontent and dissatisfaction that was stronger than anything I could’ve imagined. Had I been doing the Oprah show at the time of the 2016 election, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised by the outcome because every day that audience was my focus group on the world — every day they came from red states and blue states with every kind of belief system, gathered together in this communal moment of the Oprah show. And the best time for me was not the show but after the show, talking to all those people. So I would’ve known and felt and heard it in a different way and I would not have been surprised on election night….It’s all backseat driving now, but I would’ve applied what I was hearing to the kinds of shows that we were doing. I would’ve brought whatever that was into the forefront in a way that the polls couldn’t do or weekly newsmagazine shows can’t do. I wouldn’t have been like, “Whoa, I didn’t know everyone was that mad.”

On Pete Buttigieg: “Right now, I’m studying the field. I’m reading Shortest Way Home by [Pete Buttigieg], I call him Buttabeep, Buttaboop. (Laughs.) The name’s either going to really hurt or [really help] — I think it’s going to help, actually. Just the other day, I was at Apple with Spielberg and we were in the hallway talking about, (employing a dramatic voice) “What are we going to do?” And I said, “Have you heard of this Butta guy?” He goes, “No, Butta-who?” I go, “Buttabeep, Buttaboop. Look him up.”

Whether she begged Beto O’Rourke 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 saying, “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.

Her dream of spiritual programming on OWN: “Oh yes, I was delusional. Somebody please take me out of my delusional spiritual closet… This is what I learned from that experience. And, oh boy, was that a hard lesson. You have to meet the people where they are, not where [you are]. Not everybody wants to sit up and talk Eckhart Tolle all day. I do. I can have him to dinner every night, but not everybody else wants to do that. So, I got that.

What she’ll do with Apple: “Apple exposes you to a whole lot more people. The thing that I’m really, really excited about — as I said that day — is creating the world’s largest book club. And if I want to do a film or a doc series … The best place for [my docuseries on mental health] is not on OWN. Because you don’t have the bandwidth and you have to create a completely different audience and then you have to have marketing.

Why she left CBS/60 Minutes: “It was an interesting experience for me. I enjoyed working with the teams, and I’m probably going to work with some of the freelance people on my Apple stuff, but 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?”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

Oprah also tells THR that she’s totally over acting at this point and that she’s probably not going to do any more acting work. Obviously, I think she’ll still produce TV shows and films, and I think she might even try her hand at directing. She tells a lengthy story about the last time she flew commercial (it was the early ‘90s) and why she bought her first private plane. She spends a lot of time talking about Leaving Neverland and how the subject of sexual abuse is so much bigger than Michael Jackson. The most interesting tea – I thought – was the part about 60 Minutes and saying her name with less “emotion.” I hope the 60 Minutes producer who asked her to do that understands that they are a sexist piece of sh-t. CBS is a cesspool, my God.

Photos courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

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59 Responses to “Oprah on wanting spiritual programming on OWN: ‘I was delusional’”

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  1. Snowslow says:

    What I learned from the small excerpts is that even Oprah is having trouble navigating this whole new streaming versus broadcasting thing. Success is never guaranteed.

  2. Snowslow says:

    Also I find it super annoying when people mock family names (poor Mahershala Ali and David Oyelowo…) but this Guardian article linking Goop & Buttigieg is full of shade… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/30/gwyneth-paltrow-pete-buttigieg-match-made-in-intellectual-hell

    • Millennial says:

      I’m sure being a Oprah, she has a lot of experience with people making fun of given names, so it’s likely not a big deal in her mind. Context and intention are important.

      Plus I still don’t know how to say the guys last name. I’m living in a hole with a newborn, though, so I’m still catching up as to why he’s a thing.

      • Snowslow says:

        I always find that people mocking names comes with some condescendence at some level and I like to spot why. What I felt was that he’s an intellectual – or branded as such – and being an intellectual myself (to make it short) I think I know that that’s where it’s coming from (and I know that she is also telling someone else to read his book, that’s the very definition of being condescending).
        I agree with some posters here that her brand is to be accessible and easy-to-consume spiritualism so it felt close to home. Anti-intellectualism, anti-intelligence and anti-specialised knowledge is rampant nowadays so it bugs.

    • Oh-Dear says:

      Taking the time to learn how to pronounce a person’s name is one of the most significant ways of acknowledging a person’s personhood. It demonstrates what we norm and we maintain as different, and the desire to only speak names we can pronounce is ridiculous.
      Parsing out his politics vs who he is, including his name is a way of not seeing and acknowledging the person for who they are instead of who you want them to be. As a teacher, the importance of correctly saying a name has come up again and again.

  3. mycomment says:

    ugh… Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes. it was an archaic and outdated election system that denied her ascendance to the white house. I am so sick of this constant lie that she lost; esp by people who should know better.

    • sara6 says:

      Thousands of people in Michigan left the president portion of the ballot empty but voted down ballot. Oprah is right, people were angry. And if America elects another moderate who won’t push bold ideas to reduce poverty, America will again elect another despot. But next time America will probably elect a competent one who will do more damage cause he will be smarter than Trump.

      • Lala11_7 says:

        @Sara6…Thousands of people in MICHIGAN didn’t vote because they were angry?!?!

        You can just go to your GOOGLE MACHINE and read about ALL OF THE ELECTION FRAUD that happened in Michigan/Pennsylvania/Wisconsin…ALL Republican led states where MAJOR shennigans were going on regarding voting machines and votes…

        Trump stole Michigan by 10,704…your narrative dismisses context and is based on a LIE!!!!

        People are RACIST and SEXIST AF…that’s what people are…and until folks like Oprah et al start being REAL ABOUT THAT…I have no time for her and folks like her

      • Ader says:

        Thank you, Lala!

        “and until folks like Oprah et al start being REAL ABOUT THAT…I have no time for her and folks like her”

        This x100.

    • Pineapple says:

      Oh mycomment, that is so, so, so well put! THIS!!!!!! Election systems favour the minority. This has allowed Republicans in the White House many times, when they didn’t actually win.

    • Ashipper says:

      I know! Between the 3,000,000 votes and Russia’s interference, you can’t say Trump “won” the election. It was handed to him. Gah!

  4. Becks1 says:

    I love Oprah. I love that she is just so unapologetically Oprah. She is this perfect mix of being real and down to earth, while also being a billionaire who does not apologize for being a billionaire.

    I read this interview with her years ago, where she was flying back from South Africa on her private plane, and someone asked her if she felt guilty for her wealth, while those girls had so little (I think this was around the time she established her school there?) and she was like, “nope. I wish they had more, and I’m going to do what I can to help them, but I’m going to go home and sleep on my million thread count sheets and sleep well, because I’m doing what I can, and that doesn’t mean I cant enjoy my success.” (I’m obviously paraphrasing, lol, but that was the gist.) and it stuck in my head because often really rich people try to hide it. Maybe “hide it” isn’t the right way to put it, but when they are doing charity work they really downplay their wealth. I get why that is, but it was also just so refreshing to hear her say “I have nice sheets and my private plane and I’m not apologizing for it.”

  5. Ader says:

    The older I got, the less enamored I became with Oprah. She speaks in empty, self-help-bromide platitudes. Commendable courage and leadership, in my opinion, is about speaking truth to power and actually voicing difficult things that people may not want to hear. She always plays it safe and props up the status quo, which isn’t something that I, personally, admire about people. From where I’m sitting, Oprah reads as fairly cynical.

    She just isn’t inspiring to me.

    • perplexed says:

      I was actually surprised by her brutal honesty here. I think I chuckled a bit when she said “I was delusional.” She was acknowledging that people aren’t interested in the same things as she is. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s older but I can’t imagine another celebrity saying that. Usually other celebrities (generally men, to be honest) come up with some excuse as to why something didn’t work. She did seem to admit she is now removed from the status quo when she isn’t talking to regular people.

      • Ader says:

        Meh. To me it came off as a calculated quip that she now, after multiple focus groups, feels “safe” saying. And I disagree that this was “brutal honesty” — to me, it read as, what I call, “deeply shallow” talk, which sells VERY well these days.

      • Carol says:

        It read a little more to me like condescension: “You have to meet people where they are and not where you are” because she is so much more enlightened than the rest of us. The only time I’ve heard that phrase in the context she was using it, the speaker was paraphrasing Jesus.

        I like Oprah, but I can remember too many times on her show the guest expert having to stroke her ego that she already knew all these pearls of wisdom the guest was now sharing with the audience. I remember in particular one guest discussing the hierarchy of needs (as in, basic survival is the first level and if you are having to fight for the things needed for that you cannot move to the upper levels of community and spiritual mindedness). She kept repeating over and over, in an increasingly agitated voice, how she had reached the higher levels by 4th grade until he finally reassured her that of course she had because she was Oprah. It was an odd exchange that has always made me look at her with a more critical eye.

        Another episode of her show that tempered my enthusiasm for all things Oprah was when she was hosting a party and filmed the preparation so that we could all learn how to plan an event. She had chefs in the kitchen, staff decorating the table, the cake flown in from New York, and was disappointed that her hairdresser and make up artist arrived early because she didn’t have time for a nap, since she was so tired. She tossed out a line that those of us who couldn’t afford to hire help could ask friends, because I guess nothing says friendship like “Come clean my house and plan my party so I can take a nap. Wake me up in an hour and you can wash my hair.”

    • Mee says:

      Whaat she’s literally spent 30 years ‘speaking truth to power’. I learned so much from her show and the soul series she does. Self defense episode- never be taken to a second location, sex abuse – pedophiles groom their victims. Dr. Oz and Phil started out with the best intentions but I’m sure she just collects the money to find her school. And most importantly, over three hundred of South African girls who wouldn’t have a decent shot in life are now in Universities all over the country. And that’s just the first class, hundreds more in the school in SA. Not to mention the hundreds she educated at Morehouse and Spelman here in the States. You don’t have to like her, but you can’t say she didn’t do much.

      • Ader says:

        I didn’t say she “didn’t do much.”

        I just think that the things that she does aren’t…inspiring. The school, in my opinion, was more problematic than good. Your mileage may vary. And I think it’s great that she gave scholarships to students at Spellman and Morehouse. That’s super…and a great tax right off. (Which, believe me, I am not begrudging…but come on, let’s not pretend it was 100% altruistic or courageous….)

        And, in my opinion, she could be more honest about racism, but doesn’t because she doesn’t want to upset her white base. She’s the kind of Black person that many White people are comfortable with because she doesn’t say challenging things about difficult topics. She caters to a certain set (example: what Middle Class woman isn’t against sexual predators? Important, yes! But not challenging.), and consistently chooses the easy PR path, which I don’t find inspiring.

        Again, I never said she “didn’t do much.”

    • SpilldatT says:

      I admire that she worked hard to get where she is, especially given that she is a black woman. She really does inspire a lot of people in that way.

      But other than that, I hate how she unleashed idiots like Dr. Oz & Dr. Phil and all those buffoons on everyone, giving the spotlight to Jenny McCarthy. She isn’t solely to blame for all the nut jobs out there, but she certainly helped a lot with spreading misinformation to the masses. I dislike how all her followers would jump on every single thing as the Gospel truth and would blindly jump off the bridge if she said so.

      Like most people, she’s a complex character with a lot of grey areas, and if she wanted to speak the truth, she should also admit her hand in those things.

      • Ader says:

        “Like most people, she’s a complex character with a lot of grey areas, and if she wanted to speak the truth, she should also admit her hand in those things.”

        I completely agree with you on this point.

        And, I’d add, that she needs to be more honest / open, in this political climate, about racism. I’m of the opinion that unless we tackle “racism” — in all its forms: explicit and implicit — we will end up with more Trumps in our future and a messed up Republican party. Trump is president, and the Republicans still hold the Senate, because of a combination of racism, gerrymandering, and “stolen” votes….we need to attack all three prongs….and it’s my opinion that she could be a strong voice in the first issue, yet she demurs.

        Now, not everyone has to address racism. But, those with clout and public recognition, who opt not to….? Well, I’m just not impressed. The time is now to address these issues.

  6. Clare says:

    I have a huge amount of respect for Oprah, but I hate that she is playing into the name mocking joke. It’s not cool. It’s not that hard to take 30 seconds to figure out how to pronounce someone’s name correctly.

    A lot of people take their cues front Oprah, and I’m disappointed that she has jumped on the ‘lets giggle about his name’ bandwagon.

  7. Jay says:

    Oprah, honey, Mayor Pete ain’t it.

    • sara6 says:

      Yes! I like Bernie but his fans are almost as insufferable as Pete’s fans who get mad people make fun of his name. As someone with a difficult first name, i’d like his fans to get a sense of humor. even Pete doesn’t pronounce his last name in the proper Maltese way. He doesn’t care so why should they? They should worry why the guy they stand for supports Israel, doesn’t support full enfranchisement, fired the first black police commissioner instead of the racist cops and has no policies while other candidates do! I like Elizabeth Warren and finally polls are noticing her too, cause her numbers are finally up.

      • Ader says:

        All day this. Yes, Pete is book smart, but the cop situation is an awful look that won’t go over well with many Democrats; plus we barely know anything about his policy positions. He’s all sizzle and no steak at this point, in my opinion.

      • Megan says:

        Pete’s supporters are overwhelmingly independents. If Pete cannot appeal to Democratic primary voters he isn’t going anywhere. I also find his shtick about how he needs to make his values known first, then he will produce policy positions condescending AF. Dude, this country is in trouble and we need to know how you are going to fix it.

    • Ann says:

      I am totally here for Buttigieg and I hope he gets picked as VP. He’s a happily married proud Christian (something that doesn’t matter to me but will with a lot of other people), a Vet, a Harvard Graduate, a Rhodes scholar… I could keep going. I’d take Mayor Pete over Biden, over Booker, over Beto. He’s a winner in my book and I can’t wait to see how his political career goes.

  8. Jane Does says:

    Let’s be honest about the emotion comment, it’s not just about sexism it’s racism too-misogynoir to be precise. She spoke her name with self-love and confidence, and they didn’t like that. The world has it in for self-possessed Black women.

  9. Tris says:

    Bet O’Rourke is regretting not making that one easy phone call. Ouch!

  10. C-Shell says:

    Buttigieg = BOOT – Edge – Edge

    • Millenial says:

      Ooh, that’s helpful. I just watched two Youtube videos and walked away with

      BOOT – Uh – JUDGE

      But I think your way is more accurate.

      • Patty says:

        I’ve found the best way to pronounce Mayor Pete’s name is to say it like boot-a-jedge. Say it fast and it sounds just he says it himself. LOL.

      • C-Shell says:

        Eh, I just saw that’s what his campaign HQ has written in HUGE letters on the wall, like a mural. It helped me immensely.

    • Sarah says:

      I can’t be the only person that reads it as Buttplug….

  11. Rhys says:

    I still don’t how to pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor…

  12. KarenG says:

    Like some other commenters, I’m ambivalent about Oprah but I did enjoy her “spiritual” interviews. I admit though that I watched many on YouTube and not her network. The Pema Chodron interview is my favorite.

    • StartupSpouse says:

      I know someone who was on her Super Soul Sunday or whatever and, in my opinion, that person is a fraud. Someone who always wanted to be famous and now masquerades as a self-help guru.

      Didn’t Oprah foist Dr Phil and other hacks on us?

      • KarenG says:

        Good points. I should say I haven’t watched all of her Super Soul Sunday interviews. I only watched the ones of people I knew and already liked, so I was self-selecting based on my bias. And there is no excuse for Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.

  13. Erica says:

    I have always loved Oprah. I wasn’t one of the latch key kids she talked about a week or so ago, but I watched it in the afternoons with my mom. Then, when I had grown up, she really took a turn into the woo. She gave Jenny McCarthy her first major platform to talk about vaccines and autism. She gave rise to Dr. Oz (and Dr. Phil, which is another issue entirely). It’s created such an internal struggle in me to marry these two Oprahs in my head: the strong, fearless, intelligent woman I admire and the supporter of woo who has never corrected the record.

    • Tracy says:

      I totally agree with this! It’s hard for me to separate out her interviewing people and endorsing them since when it came to the gurus and spirituality toward the end, her show was kind of both.

      On one hand, I think “well, she’s not responsible for what other people are doing” and on the other it seems like she unleashed some real messy messes on the world that are still problematic.

  14. Cantgoogleme says:

    She says she spent 25 million (90s currency) on a private jet.

    Yet she thinks she helps people /will change the world with an apple special.
    I mean, there’s a place for that but why not feed Africans with that money instead.

    Would do a world of good.

    Just reminds me how blindly greedily celebrities are. Yet Oprah thinks she’s the massiah.

    *edit : I know she does her various charity efforts.

    • Carol says:

      After reading the story about a stranger coming up and demanding a hug because she hugs people on television . . . I don’t begrudge her that plane.

      • Tracy says:

        Totally agree, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to experience that kind of visibility on a daily basis.

    • MsIam says:

      “edit : I know she does her various charity efforts.” But it is never enough for people like you, is it?

      • cantgoogleme says:

        Hi MsIam

        Nope. If I had 40 mill. I probs would not stop at a network of schools and pat myself on the back. And buy a private jet instead, because I’m ”worth it”- her words.

        She says she is the missing piece, that she was needed to ‘thread what’s happening’ on child abuse, as a seduction process. Projecting her own interpretation of events onto the MJ events, rather than letting the victims tell their story and express their agency- without her framing it “for them.” Your clout and platform are fantastic and so helpful to the cause- say that Oprah- but do not say HBO and these victims needed her to tell us their story right. Her ego is astounding.

  15. Patty says:

    Were there more to her Beto comments? I don’t see what she says as a decimation, more like she wanted to be the first to know if he was running. I could totally see her supporting Booker or Warren or even Biden. Hmm.

    Also, why would she feed African’s specifically? There’s so much wrong with that statement. Also Africa is a huge continent with 54 countries.

    • Ader says:

      “Also, why would she feed African’s specifically? There’s so much wrong with that statement. Also Africa is a huge continent with 54 countries. ” LOL, right!?

      And I would bet money that, if ever confronted about their words or actions having a negative racist impact, the person would turn red in the face and insist: “I was taught to treat everyone the same! I don’t have a racist bone in my body! I was just referencing [insert plausible deniability]! You’re just being too sensitive! Everyone has their problems, to waste time talking about something so small is stupid!” — and on and on implicit bias goes…..

      • GreenTurtle says:

        “But I love the country of Africa! I just donated $5 to my mega church specifically to help send some of our fine youngsters on a mission trip to help those people out down there!”

        she said sarcastically.

      • Ader says:

        LOL @ GreenTurtle! Exactly!

      • cantgoogleme says:

        Hi Ader

        Not red in the face here :)
        I am sorry that I did not address the individual causes, specifying the countries individually, that I think all celebrities should be investing in- if that hurt you personally, or circulated hurtful ideas.
        No opinion is ever worth that.

      • Ader says:

        @cantgoogleme — Thanks for not freaking out! So many people do.

        As such, I wanted to take a friendly minute to explain why your statement was so side-eye-worthy. It comes across like you’re saying that a famous black American celebrity had some sort of obligation to feed the poor masses of an entire continent. That sentiment is riddled with implicit bias: essentialism (black people are a monolith, not individuals) and the idea that Africa is a wasteland of uneducated, starving poor people. Yes, many African countries have poverty and food-shortage problems (caused in large part by the effects of colonialism) — but so does the United States. There was also an underlying connotation that a black woman shouldn’t have luxury things (i.e., “she shouldn’t have a jet; she should feed poor black people instead!”) Anyway, you get the idea….

        But I’m with ya in that I am not a huge Oprah fan. :-) And after looking through some of the linked Instagram accounts on the Sussexes’ “Mental Health promotion month,” I’m really worried about this documentary they’re working on with her. Seems like it’s going to be one of those “If you’re positive and banish all people from your life who, ya know, may have ACTUAL mental health differences, then all will be awesome!” It’s “The Secret” self-help kinda claptrap that egoists find especially appealing. So yeah, I’m with you on that…

    • cantgoogleme says:

      Hi Patty,

      I apologise for my careless expression. And any hurt caused.

      • Ader says:

        Also, (again, a friendly intervention), it’s not really about “hurt feelings” or “feeling offended.” It’s about starting to recognize how bias is woven into the fabric of our society and socialization, and undoing the negative unconscious prejudices we carry around, which unfairly affect individuals and communities.