In her recent interview with WWD, Oprah Winfrey chats about how she does (or doesn’t for that matter) view her professional accomplishments; why she doesn’t miss interviewing anyone (except Bruce Jenner) and Maya Angelou shared with her about leaving a legacy.
Check out a few excerpts:
WWD: How do you see your own impact on media over the years? How do you view what you’ve accomplished?
O.W.: That is such a crazy question, Alex. Let me tell you why that’s a crazy question. It’s a crazy question because I don’t know what kind of egomaniac is sitting at home thinking about the impact they have had on the culture. It’s not something I actually think about until it comes up. I was in a conversation a couple of days ago and someone said: “You know, we were talking about the whole issue of transgender and how it has become so accepted now, and somebody said, ‘You know the Oprah show, I think has had a big impact.’” I said, I don’t think so. We did several transgender [shows], but we didn’t do as much for transgender as I did for, say, abused kids or battered women. And they said, “But no, you started the conversation. You started the conversation and the conversation has led us to here.”
So yeah, I remember when we were doing coming-out days for gay kids who couldn’t tell their families, but they could come on the Oprah show and tell me. So, the impact, to give the long answer to your question, the impact of the magazine, the impact of the show, the impact that I have had on media is what Maya Angelou says will be my legacy. I remember saying to her one day, “I think my legacy is going to be building the girl’s school in South Africa.” And she said: [imitating the booming, baritone quality of Angelou’s voice] “My dear, your legacy is every life that you’ve touched. It’s everybody who has been moved by anything that you say, anything that is written, anything that has come out of these pages. That’s the legacy.” That’s a long way around it. I don’t think about it.
WWD: Do you miss interviewing people?
[READ MORE ON THE NEXT PAGE.]
WWD: You don’t miss this?
O.W.: There’s not another darn thing I can say. I interviewed — no — had lunch with Harper Lee several years ago, trying to convince Harper Lee to do “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the book club. She wouldn’t do it. She said, “Honey, I said everything I wanted to say.”
WWD: That’s true. You have interviewed everyone.
O.W.: The problem is, and even now, because I started doing this with “Next Chapter,” there’s nobody — try to think of somebody — who would be willing to do an interview on a regular basis that you can’t go and Google and find out what has happened to them in the past week. There’s nobody.
[Sitting nearby, Gayle King adds: “Not even past week — (in the last) 10 minutes.”]
O.W.: In the last 10 minutes. By the time you get the interview on and you get anybody to sit down and do an interview, everything about it — [snaps fingers] — it’s so instant. It’s over. Except for this. [Smiles.] There are only a few [interviews]. I wanted Bruce Jenner. Diane [Sawyer] got it. That’s great but there are few. There are only a few [interviews], but you’re not going to be able to think about it.
Click here for the full interview.