Friday, April 12, 2024

Exclusive: Oprah Says When Her Salary Was Published “I had a lot of cousins coming out of the closet. All of them thought my name was First National Bank!”


Oprah Winfrey generated rock star excitement at a screening of “The Color Purple” the other night at the DGA Theater on 57th Street.

“This crowd is so hyped!” Oprah enthused at the post-screening Q&A. 

Oprah, who produced this new musical with Steven Spielberg, made her screen debut as Sofia in the original 1985 movie, which Spielberg directed.

She was a vision in pastel purple. “I went and bought all the purple fabric I could find,” she said when complimented on her outfit.

Oprah, who never seems to age, has never looked better. And not because of her weight loss— over the years her weight has been too much of a national obsession (she’s publicly credited her new look to meds) —but because she looked healthy, happy and relaxed

At the post-screening Q&A Oprah was joined onstage with producer Scott Sanders, director Blitz Bazawule, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey and Fantasia Barrino. Asked if there was anything that she learned from playing Sofia back in 1985 that she still carried with her, she noted that she modeled her character after women her family, including her grandmother and Aunt Ida. 

“All the strong women who I was surrounded by. And there’s a wonderful line in Maya Angelou’s poem to our grandmothers where she says,’I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.”

She added, “And so I feel that she represents the baseline level for what Black women have been for themselves to each other, to our families, our communities for generations… Because playing her [Sofia in the original film] gave me more strength in places where I felt maybe when I was doing that movie, I had just turned 31 and I was a real people pleaser and trying to figure out where I was in terms of versus what everybody thought I should be and how I should handle myself.

She half-joked: “And my salary was being published and I had a lot of cousins coming out of the closet. All of them thought my name was First National Bank. What I took was… That’s what I took.”

The Q&A took on a gospel hour tone when she was asked how she managed to hold on to her authentic self:  “Lord, you want a long interview!” She told the moderator, laughing.

“I think this is the truth for anybody who’s dealing with any kind of rising in your life. What you want to do is try to meet the rising. Your life is… God has put a dream out there for every one of us, and I think your goal is to try to meet that dream instead of define that dream for yourself. ‘Yes God, what is it you want me to do?’

“So I have always seen myself first as God’s child, since I was four years old on the Mississippi Dirt Road and all that stuff. And so I am centered in the source of all being. I come from that and I know that. So all the things that happen on the outside, not that it doesn’t bother me, doesn’t disturb me, but when it does, I go back to the center of that. And so that still small voice that led me to this place in my life is the still small voice that comforts me, that soothes me, that lifts me, that allows me to be who I am in the world.”

“Amen!” exclaimed the fabulous group of “The Color Purple” ensemble of women onstage who starred in the film.

At the end of the evening everyone gave Oprah a standing ovation.
She hung around for a while, taking selfies and chattering with adoring fans, who mobbed the front of the stage, until security gently ushered her off.

Photo for Showbiz411 courtesy of Brad Balfour c2023


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