Oprah Winfrey: A personal development legend


In our personal development pages we sat down with a genuine icon and one of the most inspiring women on the planet: Oprah Winfrey.

It’s a surreal experience sitting in front of the legend. Surreal in that it quickly becomes far from surreal. Something about this woman has the overpowering, unique gift of putting those around her completely at ease, which is exactly why she conquered US day-time television, reigning supreme for over 30 years.

Today, she’s glamorously regal in a gold duffel mac style gown, with her hair slicked back in a high pony and her two-tone specs slightly obscuring her features. Despite a lengthy tour promoting Disney spectacular, A Wrinkle in time, Oprah at 64 is energetic and enthusiastic. She wildly gesticulates, hops off her chair, grimaces and grins. She’s fun and friendly while discussing her role as Mrs Which, one of the three Mrs’ [Mrs Who played by Mindy Kalling and Mrs What’sit played by Reese Witherspoon], celestial beings from another dimension who guide young heroine, Meg [Storm Reid] on her quest to rescue her father [Chris Pine].

Full of eye-popping effects and startling CGI, the soul of the action lies in the lessons taught by the trio of goddesses, of self-worth, inner security and self-belief. It’s also representative of the shift in Hollywood towards female dominated blockbusters told from a female perspective, a shift mirrored in the transformation happening in society.

And Winfrey seems so pleased to be at the forefront. Arrestingly charming and wise, she chats about her involvement in the film, why it’s the Wizard of Oz for a new generation and why her talk-show history will soon be forgotten. She also talks fame, being star struck, struggling with despair as a teen and her accidental mentor.

She has been in a relationship with Steadman Graham since 1986.

Together: So how did you get cast as Mrs Which?
Oprah: I wasn’t even supposed to be in this movie.

And yet, here you are!
Here I am [laughs]. So, I’m friends with Ava since I worked on Selma with her, she’s a wonderful close friend of mine. I was planning on tagging along with her while she shot in New Zealand which is the most gorgeous country. I visited last year for a talk I was doing and the energy is incredible – if you don’t feel it when you’re there you’re not alive.

And we were talking and she told me she was planning on shooting this movie there and I said, ‘I’d love to come there with you to watch.’ And she says ‘if you’re going to do that, would you like to read this part and see what you think.’

And it all happened from there, I got a job, and a free vacation [laughs]. And the chance to touch hearts and be part of a story, a visual story which casts a light on the world, that was the greatest gift to me. To help paint that power in the light. Because light is truly more powerful than darkness and always will be. And just a small amount of light can overcome any darkness. So there was that [laughs]. And the free trip to New Zealand [laughs].