Skip to main content

tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  March 4, 2017 9:00am-9:31am EST

9:00 am
david: the live audience does not intimidate you, right? oprah: not a bit. [laughter] david: no? ok. you came from very modest circumstances. oprah: modest is not the word. david: very few people in the world are known by one name. oprah: they started me a campaign called "what is an oprah?" david: you are a big shareholder in weight watchers. oprah: that is a sign, when weight watchers says, let us help you. david: have you ever thought you could actually run for president? oprah: i thought, oh, gee, i don't have the experience. i don't know enough. i don't know and now i am thinking, oh? [laughter] >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way.
9:01 am
all right. ♪ david: i don't consider myself a journalist. nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? >> hello. >> the live audience does not intimidate you, right? >> i feel right at home actually. it is the one thing i miss from the daily show. every now and then someone will say, do you miss the show? no, i don't miss the show. i miss the people, the camaraderie, because what i did every day is have my own after-show with the audience. i would talk with the audience after every show starting 10 years in.
9:02 am
at first, i did autographs every day and never look up. then, one day i decided i don't want to do that anymore, but what do i really want to do? i want to talk to this audience and find out where they are from. that became my favorite part of the day. it was my own personal focus group. it is the reason we were number , because i used the information i gathered every day from people who were the greatest resource. they were viewers who had taken the time to come with their family members. a few husbands who were like, "well, i came to oprah." [laughter] david: that show was on for 25
9:03 am
years in chicago. you won almost 50 emmy awards. you ended it to do other things, and we will talk about that, but no regrets about ending that show? oprah: no, no regrets whatsoever. i did not want to be punch-drunk in the ring is still trying to come up with what is the next thing, because over the years, we became our own greatest competition. i went national in 1986. every time there was another talk show, then i realized that you run your own race. if you take the time to see what everyone else is doing, you lose your ground, and i could be a better me than anybody else. once i got that, we hit our own rhythm, and once i discovered it was not just a show, but a platform in which to speak to the world, and then, that was
9:04 am
about 1989, when i thought, what do you want to say to the world? how do you want to be used and not have the tv use you? david: what drives you to keep working so hard? you and i are in the 60's category, and you have lived more than you will live. you can say, why not relax a little bit, ease up? why have you decided to work harder than ever before? oprah: the thing that works for me all these years, whether the magazine, which i still have, or whether it was the show, i understood that there is a common denominator in human experience, and i want the same thing you want, which is the same thing you want and you want. what we all want is to be able to live out the truest, highest expression of ourselves as a human being.
9:05 am
that does not end until you take your last breath. what is the truest, highest, vision you hold for yourself? no matter where you are, there is always the next level to the last breath, so i feel i always knew i would be done with the show when i felt i said as much as i could say here on this platform, and then how will i be used? if there were a theme song to my life, "amazing grace" would be one, and keep on using me until you use me up would be another one. [laughter] oprah: you know, that bill withers song? so i feel that until you have used your value as a human being, you are not done. david: today, if you look back on what you have achieved already and suppose you have a long way to go before you are finished, what are the greatest pleasures you have received or what are you most proud of? oprah: this is good.
9:06 am
thank you. this is good. [laughter] david: i watch your interview shows. i know how to do some. [laughter] oprah: i think the thing i am most proud of, it reminds me of when i had done my school in south africa. i have a school in south africa for girls. [applause] david: it just celebrated its 10th anniversary? oprah: it just celebrated its 10th anniversary. i have girls from brown to stanford, all over the united states, going to school. i have 10 graduations to attend in 2017. i remember when i started the school and said to my beloved friend maya angelou, i am so proud. this will be my greatest legacy. she said, you have no idea. [laughter] "you have no idea what your legacy will be because your
9:07 am
legacy is every life you have touched." that shifted the way i saw legacy. she was explaining that everyone who decided they would go back to school, lose weight, no longer hit their children, get out of a bad marriage, all of those people who have seen and experienced your voice, and the same with everybody here, you have no idea what your legacy will be. your legacy is every life you have touched. i know you have done amazing things with your philanthropy. we like to think that these great philanthropic moments are the ones that leave the impact or make the huge difference in the world, but it is really what you do every day, how you use your life to be a light to someone else. it is how you use your work as an expression of your own art, whatever that is. i would say the girls as i get
9:08 am
to watch them now graduate from college and move into their lives, but really there is a moment that happened to me just about a year after i went national. there was a woman in ann arbor, michigan, who wrote me a letter that will go on -- i would not have a tombstone, but if i would have a tombstone, it would go there. she said, oprah, watching you be yourself every day makes me want to be more of myself, and i don't know of anything better than that, so i am most proud of -- just yesterday, i went to see -- and in a bathroom, a woman says, you know, i have watched you all these years, and you did so much for me. i used to hear people say i love you and watch your show, and about 10 years in, i would stop people and say, so tell me what
9:09 am
is it that moved you? why do you love the show? this woman said to me just yesterday, you helped me to be more of myself. david: being oprah, is it hard to go to the bathroom in these public places? [laughter] is in that kind of challenging at times? oprah: as a matter of fact, it was, because there was another lady talking to me because she thought i did not do enough for mrs. clinton. she came out of the stall, a woman said leave oprah alone. she is just trying to pee! [laughter] [applause] oprah: and she followed me out. david: very few people are known by one name, oprah, elvis, jesus, great people. [laughter] oprah: it is only when i was challenged with the idea of changing it that i thought no, i will keep my name. ♪
9:10 am
9:11 am
9:12 am
david: do you think about what you accomplished? you came from modest circumstances. oprah: modest is not the word. [laughter] oprah: i was actually poor. a lot of the girls at my school, actually all the girls from my school are poor, and i was just in south africa for a graduation, i was saying you all come from the same circumstances. one girl raised her hand and said i don't like using that word. i said if you are not poor, you should excuse yourself. that is why i am paying for you. [laughter] so i don't have a problem with the word. i don't have any shame about it. i think probably earlier in my life or career that the word would have bothered me, but i was poor. no running water, david, or electricity, living with an outhouse, ok? that is poor. david: you were shuttled between
9:13 am
your mother, grandmother, grandfather, so at what point did you realize you had skills? oprah: i think in kindergarten, i kind of felt it. [laughter] david: do other people agree that you are going to be special? oprah: this is my kindergarten raised- my grandmother me on this acre, i used to think it was a farm, but it wasn't. it was an acre. i remember my grandmother taught me how to read. i grew up learning to read. i read bible verses. by the time i was six and got shuttled to milwaukee, the grace for me is that i didn't spend a day in a segregated school, so i did not have one moment of ever being conditioned to believe that i was less than anybody, so when i walked into my first
9:14 am
kindergarten class, the first time i had ever seen little white children that my grandmother did not work for, and everybody was doing their abcs, and i was like why are the children doing abcs? i wrote my kindergarten teacher a letter and said, i do not belong here. [laughter] oprah: because i know a lot of big words, and then i proceeded to write every big word i knew, and everybody who reads the bible -- shadrach, misha, nehemiah, jeremiah, then i put in elephant and hippopotamus. i saw the impression it made on her. david: speaking of big words and bible, your first name came from a biblical source, but it was
9:15 am
supposed to be orpah. how did it get to be oprah? oprah: misspelled the first day i went to school and stayed that way. david: very few people are known by one name, very few people, elvis, jesus -- [laughter] oprah: there are a few others. david: but suppose your name which was just mary or jane? oprah: it would not have worked. i remember once being in baltimore and i had a director when i first came to work in baltimore had said to me we have to do something about that name. we need to do something about that because no one will remember it or know how to pronounce it. up until that time, i wanted to have a name like everybody else, so it was only when my bosses told me i need to think about changing it and they mentioned suzy, because suzy is friendly. suzy winfrey, eyewitness news, a friendly thing, but it was only when i was challenged with the
9:16 am
idea of changing it that i thought, no, i will keep my name. when i started in baltimore, your mother can tell you, she was there, they started me with a campaign called what is oprah, trying to explain to people how to pronounce the name. david: you went to college in tennessee, then you worked in the tennessee broadcasting operation, and what you are -- and then you were recruited to go to baltimore, my hometown, and what you are referring to is that my mother would watch you and call me up and say there is a terrific person on a show here. she is going national. i'm like, people from baltimore usually don't go national. she was right. when you went to baltimore, you went to become an anchorwoman. it didn't quite work out. oprah: i was fired. [laughter] well, demoted. david: they had a contract, so they did not say goodbye. how did you work out to be on an afternoon show?
9:17 am
how did that happen? oprah: this is what i now know with age and perspective, that many times getting demoted is an opportunity for something else to show up, or getting fired. lots of people i have interviewed, there have been stories about the best thing that ever happened to you. i was not a good television reporter. i was too emotional. i would try to take blankets to the people. david: you were young, 21? oprah: i was empathetic and getting written up for getting myself involved in other people's business. i was making $22,000 a year, and my best friend, gayle, she was also working there. she said, oh, my god, imagine when you are 25, 30?
9:18 am
i would be making about $60,000 right now, $62,000. [laughter] oprah: that did not work out. once i got demoted, they did not want to pay out my contract. i was making $25,000 a year. they did not want to pay me the $25,000 and kept me on and said we will put you on this talkshow to run out the contract. david: the person who wanted to demote you, has that person risen in the broadcast world? [laughter] oprah: i think they did, moved on, worked out. david: when did you realize you have a skill as an interviewer? oprah: what gave me the power in the seat and the power with a microphone was i always saw myself as the surrogate for the audience. ♪
9:19 am
9:20 am
david: the show worked very well, and all of a sudden your contract is up for renewal and somebody comes along and says how about a show in chicago? you decided to leave, is that right? oprah: i decided to leave. my contract was not up at the time.
9:21 am
i think everybody knows i have moved my whole life on instinct. i feel now it is time to let the show go. i feel it is time to move on, because i have grown as much as i can grow. when i grow as much as i can grow in a space, that is my instinct to move. i started to feel like i needed to move someplace else. new york felt too crowded, too hard to get around, the number one market, but i had an agent at the time and said to the agent, i just want to be a substitute for joan lunden. could you just get me a job as a substitute for her when she goes on vacation and maybe she wants to take a break? and that agent said to me that will never happen because they already have one black person. i said, really? he said, yes, it is bryant gumbel.
9:22 am
i said it is the wrong station. so maybe they will take one more, but he said, no. i let that agent go. i ended up going to chicago because i was on somebody else's audition tape. she called me up and said a producer just saw you on my tape and wants to know if you would be interested in doing a job here. that is how it happened. david: you got there. it was an existing show. you took it over, and it got popular and they change the name to "the oprah winfrey show." oprah: they were calling it "the oprah show." every single other person than my friend gayle said you are going to fail in chicago because i was going up against phil donahue. david: phil who? [laughter] [applause] david: come on.
9:23 am
oprah: it didn't matter to me, because i did not think he was beatable, and i actually said it to my boss, who has gone on to do great things in television. she said, we know you can't beat him so don't worry about it. just be yourself. and that saved me. imagine little chubby me being told now you have got to go and beat phil donahue. he just said we are a local show, and so if you can get a number, we will take it. i had no pressure, no pressure, so i just went on the air and was myself. david: he ultimately left chicago and moved to new york because of the competition -- i guess, i'm not sure. oprah: well, i beat him, david, i did. [laughter] [applause] oprah: i wasn't even trying to, but it is just like --
9:24 am
david: i'm sympathetic to white men with white hair, but you did very well. [laughter] oprah: he was so gracious, and i have always said had there not been a phil donahue, there could not have been an oprah show. he paved the way for that kind of audience, smart women at home, many of them stay-at-home mothers, taking care of their kids, some of them going back into the workforce in the mid-1980's when i started who were interested in talking about purposeful things, meaningful things. he opened that door. david: when did you realize in chicago or baltimore that you had a skill as an interviewer better than anybody else, and where do you think it came from? oprah: i never thought it was better than anybody else. what i do have that is uniquely my own is my ability to connect to the audience, because my skill comes not from my interviewing ability. my skill comes from my listening ability, and my skill comes from me knowing fundamentally inside
9:25 am
myself that i am no different than the audience, so what gave me the power and the seat and the power with the microphone was that i always saw myself as the surrogate for the audience, so i would ask people questions that i would not normally ask. i would ask embarrassing questions and not because i wanted to know the answer, but because i thought the audience did, and then i thought i would not ask the next time when i get in that situation. i put myself in a bad situation -- i asked sally field when she was dating burt reynolds, i asked sally field if he slept with his toupee on. [laughter] david: what was the answer? or the question -- oprah: i would never do that today. i did it because i was getting pushed by the producers.
9:26 am
she shut down and i could see that it embarrassed her, and i never got another thing from her. i learned from that. david: while you were doing the show, you got the opportunity to be an actress in "the color purple." oprah: yes. [applause] just anell, not opportunity. i don't even have time for this story. i never wanted anything more in my life, david, and haven't wanted anything as much since as much as i wanted "the color purple." i had seen a review in "the new york times," so i started hearing there were going to do a movie. long story short, i auditioned for the movie, and only because quincy jones happened to be, quincy jones was going to
9:27 am
chicago, my little show, "am chicago," was on. they were looking for an actress to play this part. i did not know quincy jones. he is coming out of his shower after taking the redeye, there for a deposition because he is testifying on behalf of michael jackson, someone said billie jean is their lover or whatever. [laughter] oprah: so he is there in chicago, coming out of the shower, and he sees me on "a.m. chicago" and thinks, i think that girl can be in a movie, so he tells his people, who call me. i had been praying and hoping to be in this movie, "the color purple," and i get a call. one day i am just in my office and the casting agent says i'm calling about a movie we are doing. would you be interested in coming to audition? the movie is called "moon song." i said i was not praying for a movie called "moon song."
9:28 am
[laughter] oprah: he said it was called that because that is what they were calling it. stephen didn't want people to know he was doing it. i went to audition for it and i knew it was "the color purple." david: you got the part? oprah: i got the part. i love harpo. god knows i do. david: you were nominated for an academy award, should have won, but did not win. oprah: it's ok. the dress didn't fit and i would not have been able to get out of the chair anyway. [laughter] [applause] david: was that hard to give up chicago? oprah: i don't feel sad at all. i feel a great sense of pride. i think what we were able to do at that show every day. i am just proud of the work, and then i realized it was time to let that go. ♪
9:29 am
.. ..
9:30 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on