At this point, it’s fair to say Oprah Winfrey has enjoyed a long and very successful career. These days, she enjoys spending time with her partner Stedman Graham in their Montecito mansion.
At the same time as Oprah’s enjoyed plenty of success, she’s had her fair share of hardship over the years. In fact, the legendary television host revealed recently that she doesn’t actually have that many friends at all.
So why is that? According to Oprah, there’s a simple explanation.
Oprah Winfrey looks to finally be slowing down after a long, busy, and very successful career. She started off by working as a television journalist, co-anchoring the six o’clock headlines on WJZ-TV. However, she was dropped from the gig and moved on to work at the news desk, where she was yelled at every night by an editor.
She says that helped her further down the line.
“I wasn’t a great writer, I wasn’t fast enough,” Oprah explained.
“In the end, I didn’t get fired, but I did get demoted to the talk show … which was seen as a big demotion in those days. And that’s where it all began. So, I thank him. He was inadvertently a guiding light.”
Oprah got the job hosting the television show People Are Talking, which became a big hit. After eight years, she went on to do a talk show in Chicago called AM Chicago, which in 1986 was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Oprah came into the television industry that was flooded by white males. As a young black woman, she was a pioneer in the field, and her presence soon became what can be referred to as a revolution.
The Oprah Winfrey show became a stalwart of TV, attracting millions of viewers. Oprah interviewed more than 37,000 people on her talk show during the 25 years it aired, from average Joe with everyday problems to Michael Jackson and President Obama.
There was quite literally someone from every walk of life on the show at one point or another.
The Michael Jackson interview actually became one of the most-watched interviews in TV history, with more than 90 million people tuning in.
“It was the most exciting interview I had ever done,” Oprah said. “We are coming in the gates of Neverland, and it’s like a moment in The Wizard of Oz.
“It was literally like going to see the wizard. We couldn’t believe it. I felt like a kid.”
Oprah signed a new contract to continue The Oprah Winfrey Show through the 2010-2011 season. At the time, the show could be seen on more than 200 US stations and in more than 100 countries worldwide.
In 2011, when her contract expired, Oprah decided to end her show after 25 successful years.
“I love this show, this show has been my life, and I love it enough to know when it’s time to say goodbye,” she said. “Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit. It’s the perfect number. It’s the exact right time.”
The show won a total of eight Daytime Emmy Awards. In addition, Oprah won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. Oprah also won the People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Talkshow Host” four times.
Then, in 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Oprah has met thousands of people in her life, both on stage and in her private life. However, she isn’t quite the friendship magnet you might think she’d be.
Speaking on the podcast Making Space, Oprah explained that she doesn’t have that many friends. Instead, she focuses on a small circle of people, and for a good reason.
“So, I don’t have a lot of friends. Everybody knows Gayle [King]. There’s Gayle, there’s Maria, there’s Bob [Greene]. And that’s, that’s about it, you know? Gayle and Maria I met around the same time and I never really expanded that circle. Until recently, I’ve become friends with a couple of people in my later adult life, in the past five years,” she explained.
Now, having many friends isn’t that important, but having friends around you that really care is. When Oprah’s friend Gayle King divorced her husband in the 1990s, she went on to become what they describe as “the third wheel” to Stedman and Oprah.
“I’m a proud third-wheeler,” Gayle said. “I make no apologies for that. I got divorced back in 1994 and I’ve been their third wheel ever since. The good news is that Stedman is always very welcoming, so it never occurs to me when she says, ‘We’re going to so and so,’ I’m like, ‘When?’
It doesn’t occur to me that I’m not invited,” she added. “But throughout the years, we’ve gone on some great trips together. And that’s not gonna change.”
Oprah has been together with her partner Stedman Graham for more than 30 years. She met the business executive and author at a charity function in 1986, and the pair went public with their relationship shortly after.
He even called into The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1987 to surprise her, asking his girlfriend: “I don’t know if you recognize my voice or not?”