Oprah Winfrey Interview
Based on the book, ‘THE POINT’ by Ronald G. Matthews Copyright 2012
I encourage others to take advantage of an opportunity to help or challenge someone, when they just happen to be there, and are able to. We that have a talent, cannot always monetize it. Some ideas are best left to those who have a burning to do them. I have so many ideas, I just am not able to do them all, or even most. So, I give them away, when I’m able.
This opportunity came out of the blue. There was no way I could have anticipated it. I was separated from my wife, and at a partn in Newport Beach with a woman I started dating. I had only seen a few of the people at the party at a restaurant and bar, I frequented. I was working in sales at the time. The separation with my wife had been devastating to me. We did mend the marriage, but my pain had me drinking far too much alcohol.
My friend connected to her buddies at the party, leaving me standing there all alone, looking conspicuous. When she came back, she asked me if I would be willing to interview someone. I asked who. She pointed to a pretty ordinary looking black woman, with an afro hair cut. She too was very conspicuous, as this was Republican territory, and she was the only black woman there, also standing alone.
Again, I only mention this interview to show how I was able to use an opportunity. Since I am not world famous yet, I feel a need to show I have good ideas, and good vision. I hope you’ll agree that this is one of those times.
I asked my friend what the interview was for, and why did they want me to do it? She said no one else wanted to do it, and she didn’t know the reason why. I said Okay, and asked what I should ask her. I had been drinking, but was highly lucid. To this day, I can remember every critical word of this interview. She told me to ask the three producers, so I did. They were not helpful, saying to ask anything I wanted. I asked if they wanted me to ‘rattle her’. They said sure, do that. I walked over to the woman and introduced myself, and that I was supposed to interview her.
THE INTERVIEW IN BRIEF
She said her name was Oprah. This was an unusual name and I thought my job was to rattle her, so I verbally mirrored back to her, “Okra”? She was not amused by my chide. In a very calm and controlled manner, she explained that okra is a vegetable and her name was Oprah. Then she noted I had been drinking, and was offended, and she bolted from the interview.
She decided that she didn’t want to be interviewed by me. She went over to her agent, where she seemed to be complaining, that I was drunk, and she didn’t want to be interviewed by me. I knew that I was the only one there that cared at all about interviewing her, so was unconcerned about her leaving.
I probably should have walked away right then, and that would have been the end of it, and her chances for the show she was there to interview for. But I love a good story, and drama often comes with that.
The agent walked a few feet and talked to the producers, who looked at me. Remember, I told them I intended to rattle her, and they knew that no one else wanted to interview her. I looked back at them, smiled and shrugged. The producers told the agent ‘too bad’, or something like that, and sent him back to Oprah. They told the agent, it is him or no one.
I stood to gain in no way. I was at the party to have a good time. So, I watched this whole scene going on, and I stood there waiting to see if the stage was still mine or not. Would the interview continue?
The agent told Oprah to continue the interview, and she reluctantly walked back to me and we started to talk. She asked me what I did for a living and I told her I was a sales manager. She said that could be helpful to her. I had no idea why it would be helpful, but later in our conversation, I did discover why. She needed me to sell her to the producers.
The three producers talked among themselves all the time I was talking to Oprah, with their backs to us. The entire interview, and side conversations, took about thirty minutes.
I asked Oprah what was the reason for the interview. She said she wanted to be a national talk show host. I laughed at that! Remember I thought I was supposed to rattle her. I told her, I thought that market was tightly controlled, and wondered about her wanting to do a daytime talk show. She said she would have to build an audience.
The more I talked to her, the more impressed I was, with how articulate she seemed to be. I could tell she was intelligent. She carried herself well, except of course for being rattled. I noted how determined she was to get what she wanted. I thought to myself that ‘no one can stop this woman’.I told her that it looked to me, like she was extremely determined to get the show, so how could anyone stop her.
She said that ‘there WERE people’ that could stop her. I asked who could possibly stop someone so determined and on fire. She nodded toward the three producers. She said that two of them and possibly the third could stop her. The producers hadn’t decided if the third guy was in or out of the deal, or if there was a deal. The third guy seemed to be ‘out’.
I knew then, that I could make sure she was stopped, or help her get the job. I turned around and focused intently on the producers for just a minute, sizing them up to see how difficult they might be to convince. I wanted to get a feel for how to approach them, once the interview was complete. I was already sold on Oprah’s ability, so I needed to figure out how to get her sold to the producers. I wanted to make sure I took just the right approach, to produce her show. I’m pretty sure the two producers were brothers. I never was told their names, but figured It out. It was the King Brothers. Kingworld Productions.
I was convinced that Oprah was a treasure and that she should absolutely get her show. I don’t believe I had ever met many people so determined. Her command of the language was very impressive. I complimented her on how articulate she was.
Oprah and I talked about a wide variety of subjects, all relating to her pending new life. I felt the interview was done, but she said, “What about the other thing”. I asked, “What other thing”. The gay thing. I asked, are you gay. She said “something like that”. I said, and the producers don’t want you to be openly, or publicly gay. She said “Right”. I had to convince her to keep that private. I asked her if it was more important to have her show, or be publicly gay? I reminded her that she told me these guys could stop her. She seemed okay with keeping it under wraps. Personally, I don’t care what a person does in private. Everyone needs love.
Now I realized I could sell her for sure. The objection had been addressed. She seemed to agree. So I decided to challenge her. I told her, “If you do get this show, why don’t you use your influence to do something for your people”. She asked what I meant. She mentioned Martin Luther King. I said yes, he had raised the status of black people, but it needed to go up another notch. She asked how, and we both agreed a President might well do that. We talked quite a while what this president would look like. She mentioned several black men that were well known, but I said they were not electable. She asked, then what? I said she needed to grow one. We talked about the requirements. I said light skin, articulate, Harvard law, and Christian. She said Muslim, but I said he would not be electable. When she seemed to agree, I told her I’d get her hired.
She did ask why I wanted that. I told her that I was tired of being hated by black people. She asked how a Southern Boy had been able to avoid the prejudice. I explained I grew up as an Air Force Dependent, and black people were just like anyone else, though my parents were very prejudiced. I never grew to hate gays or other color people. I was blessed in this way.
She asked me not to divulge the challenge, and that she would deny it if I did. Now that Obama is out of office, I can feel safe in saying so. She asked me what I wanted. I told her my educational company. She said to contact her when I was ready, and so I did. My house was broken into and my computer never worked again. I could tell she would not be helpful.
I won’t explain the details, but I did sell her strong, to the producers. I think she mentions that it took 18 months to get the show going, but then she did it 25 years and continues to be relevant in women issues.
Seriously, I don’t know that my idea of health care as a platform was successful, or a president to elevate the status of black people, but it a try. As well, I was not so loving back then. That came a lot later. I still hope I can build my educational corporation, based on my book THE MINDFIELD.