The following interview, a Gabbler early release, is the first of its kind. Oprah Winfrey, fed up following a series of interviews that she claimed were done by “unprofessional journalist frauds,” has decided to interview herself. “I was the only one capable of really getting to the core of the greatness that is Oprah Winfrey,” she explains at one point. The following interview delves deeply into her past, exploring the young girl who eventually would become the first African-American billionaire. Then, Winfrey begins an in-depth discussion of her years as the host of the groundbreaking Oprah Winfrey Show before discussing her high hopes for her latest adventure: OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
OPRAH 1: The daughter of a teen mom, she rose from the depths of the poor, racist South to become the single most influential woman in American pop culture. She has revolutionized the American talk show, which in turn made society a more welcoming place for the disenfranchised, including homosexuals. She single-handedly got President Obama elected. She has saved South Africa from the brink of ruin by empowering young women there. And she just began her newest cultural conquest: her own network (no pun intended). I’m here today to interview the woman, the legend, the pure force of nature herself: Oprah Winfrey. It’s great to have you here today, Oprah.
OPRAH 2: Thanks, Oprah. It’s great to be here, being interviewed by someone whom I admire so much. But your introduction – wow. It’s hard to take credit for all of those things, you know, it was just the universe using me as a vessel, just some spiritual energy pushing me to do what I love — just talk to people, you know, just hear their stories, to break them down emotionally and then to push them in the right direction.
OPRAH 1: Well I think I can safely say that the universe chose the most incredible, intelligent, beautiful, real, spiritual woman to give your gift to. It really did. But now let’s start at the beginning – your beginning. Tell me about your childhood.
OPRAH 2: My childhood was, well, not the most pleasant. I was born in poor, rural Mississippi, the daughter of a teenager, the product of just one sweaty, awkward sexual encounter. From there, the universe sent me through trial after trial, through the bowels of inner city Milwaukee, through the joys of early teenage promiscuity, the terror of a pregnancy at just 14 years of age, all the way through to a job in radio while still in high school. The rest, as they say, is history.
OPRAH 1: It sounds like you are an incredible woman who pulled yourself from the brink of ruin to the summit of almost complete world domination—
OPRAH 2: I didn’t pull myself anywhere. The Universe bestowed me with a remarkable gift and then guided me through. But, you know, this gift, what I call THE GIFT, the ability to inspire and motivate and influence to the point of total submission, the Gift just wouldn’t have been possible without the hardship I lived through.
OPRAH 1: But tell me more about what it was like after you pulled through. After your rough early teenage years broke through to near perfect grades, a college scholarship, and then a gig that changed the face of local news in Chicago.
OPRAH 2: Well, like you said, Oprah, I pulled through. There were a lot of barriers, though, as a black woman, but the Universe guided my spirit and my Gift through the arena of local news in Nashville and Baltimore before I moved up to Chicago.
OPRAH 1: Where you managed to singlehandedly save AM Chicago, transforming it from a show watched by tens of people into the top rated morning show in Chicago.
OPRAH 2: And then it became The Oprah Winfrey Show, where it lasted for 25 seasons, until I decided to move on and start OWN.
OPRAH 1: That’s right. You can’t push Oprah out. She’ll leave in her own good time (seriously, no pun intended). But tell me more about the experience of The Oprah Winfrey Show. What was it like revolutionizing the tabloid talk show format started by Phil Donahue and then turning it into a positive force for personal, social, cultural, economic, linguistic, and governmental change?
OPRAH 2: It was wonderful. So organic, so easy. The Gift really just flowed through me, teaching me how to really just sit and talk with these people, these hurt, aching open wounds that were so distraught that their only recourse was to appear on a TV show—
OPRAH 1: And that, of course, was in the beginning of your show, in the ’80s, when the show was, for lack of a better word, a so-called “tabloid talk show.”
OPRAH 2: Right, when we invited people on to talk about their extraordinary pain, the type of pain that is just outrageous enough, but still relatable. The kind of pain that we in the biz like to call Industry Gold. And by channeling the Gift given to me by the Universe, and by spending the network’s money to give guests the professional help they need, I was able to help them work through their pain.
OPRAH 1: But then, in the mid-’90s the show changed. Tell me about that change. What inspired you to make that change from a more straightforward tabloid talk show format to a show focusing on the broader issues affecting men and women in today’s world?
OPRAH 2: Well, eventually, after years of helping individuals in pain, and we’re talking deep, deep pain that can only be solved through the help of television and more specifically, my Gift, well, after years of helping countless individuals, I realized I could do more. That I could be more to more people, you know? So I decided to give my gift to the masses through more generalized shows, focusing on all people rather than just the extraordinary cases that make for great TV.
OPRAH 1: Excellent. But there’s been some controversy around The Oprah Winfrey Show. Tell me about the rimming incident.
OPRAH 2: I had a show informing parents of the sexually deviant behavior that their children may be engaging in, and several people seemed enraged that I allowed the episode to air during the day time when children may have been watching. But I stand by my decision to air that episode. Parents need to know if their teenaged children are participating in rimming. And if they don’t know that rimming exists, then how will they know to have an open honest conversation about the sanitary implications of such a practice?
OPRAH 1: I completely agree. And frankly, I’m surprised that you even allowed anyone to question any of your decisions. But let’s move on to a more fun topic: the giveaways. You have lavished gifts on your studio audience for years, including cars and even a trip to Australia with John Travolta.
OPRAH 2: Oh, I love giving things away. You know, as a major celebrity, the best interviewer in the business and the first black female billionaire I can basically meet whoever I want to, whenever I want to, and I can buy whatever I want, whenever I want to. There is literally not a thing conceivable by the human mind that I cannot pay someone to make a reality for me. So it’s nice to spread a little bit of that around every once and awhile, so that the little people can experience the totally luxury of being a billionaire.
OPRAH 1: And you do spread the wealth, giving away hundreds of millions of dollars, creating a school for girls in South Africa. What does philanthropy mean to you?
OPRAH 2: Philanthropy means being able to spread around the Bounty of the Gift given to me by the Universe. It also means ensuring that the next generation of South African women are strong and powerful and educated enough to fall in line with the Oprah Way of Life.
OPRAH 1: We’re running out of time, but real quick, Oprah, tell me about OWN. Is it a success or a failure?
OPRAH 2: It’s an unfinished journey. But I don’t think the Universe would have pushed me to start a network if it hadn’t been the right decision, if it wasn’t the right choice to further extend my empire.
OPRAH 1: An empire that surely doesn’t have much more room to extend, as it seems to have taken the whole world by storm. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you; I feel like I was the only one capable of really getting to the core of the greatness that is Oprah Winfrey. And I feel like I did that. With that, I wish you best of luck, not that you need it. Goodnight to the woman, the legend, the most influential woman in the history of mankind, who decides which presidents rise and which ones fall, which storm clouds rain and which ones pass over, which books middle-aged women read and which ones they leave to a dusty fate in the Barnes and Noble clearance aisle. It’s been a real pleasure.