The moments leading up to an interview with Oprah Winfrey are more nerve-wracking than sitting with the esteemed media mogul herself. You are reminded of how valuable her time is (she’s a five-time Forbes most powerful celebrity title-holder), told by a rep that she can’t accept gifts for safety reasons (yet her Oprah Winfrey Show giveaways of cars and trips made swag bags look like diddly squat in the early 2000s) and that she is a talker.
Sounds about right for the woman whose journalistic medals include building her OWN network despite ratings struggles and being the exclusive shoulder to lean on for a tear-smeared Rihanna post-Grammy incident and cyclist/ reformed drug addict Lance Armstrong. But when you finally ease into a seat across from Ms. Winfrey, you find that she isn’t the queen of nonsense blah blah but that her gab comes straight from that muscle in the middle of her chest.
In her latest endeavor, Oprah grabs prime real estate on the big screen alongside Forest Whitaker, Cuba Gooding Jr., and David Oyelowo for Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The film is loosely based on the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served through eight presidential administrations over the course of 30 years during the nation’s civil rights movement. The storyline’s raw portrayal of racial and familial tensions gives Oprah’s character Gloria Gaines ample room to occupy the spotlight, though O admits her itinerary while filming the project did not.
“The most challenging part about the role was that I was also trying to build a network at the same time and had to, at many times, do a scene, go shoot Rihanna, do another scene, go shoot Jason Russell, go shoot Fergie, go shoot Usher, I was working the entire time,” she tells VIBE. “I said that to (director) Lee [Daniels] this is the worst possible time. I’m trying to build a network … and he didn’t listen to me.”
Still, she couldn’t turn down the offer to star in a movie that depicts the emotional and physical evolution of American history. “I ended up saying yes because of the character and the story and to be able to tell that story of African Americans loving each other with such tenderness and care and support for one another,” she says. “My whole life is telling other people’s stories and opening up the heart space for themselves.”
Watch the full interview where she discusses her own success and the song she considers her power anthem above. Lee Daniels’ The Butler opens in theaters Aug. 16.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)
Video Edited By: Brandon Burnett