Despite hosting a daytime talk show that became known for self-improvement segments and mental health advisers, Oprah Winfrey admits that she has never outsourced her own mental health care.
During an appearance on Tuesday’s The Drew Barrymore Show, the media mogul addressed why she never sought therapy after hosting her eponymous show for 25 seasons.
“I had all my therapy on the show in front of everybody. And you know, when I first started in 1986 with the national show, nobody was going to therapy. Even speaking about therapy on television was taboo, and now everybody has gone to therapy,” Winfrey, 69, told Barrymore. “So I did my therapy in front of everyone at a time when people were still adjusting their consciousness to the idea of accepting somebody else being able to counsel you about your life.”
Barrymore, 48, who began hosting her daytime talk show in 2020, shared how her perspective has drastically shifted since meeting Winfrey for the first time when she was 14 years old.
“I’m happy to tell you now that I don’t think and feel any of those things about myself. I feel like I’m learning more here not playing a character but being myself…” she told Winfrey. “And you made that OK for everyone. I think part of why self-work is a national discussion sprangboard from you.”
In an eye-opening segment in which the former daytime host plays a game of Naughty and Nice, Winfrey shared a sweet tidbit about her relationship with longtime love Stedman Graham.
When asked about the most romantic thing her partner has done for her, Winfrey revealed that Graham would involve their dogs in his annual Valentine’s Day gestures.
“When we had five dogs — now we’ve lost four of them — on every Valentine’s Day, he would sit down and write cards from each of the dogs to me, and each of the dogs would send their own bouquet,” she shared. “That’s the most romantic. After about the fifth year I was like, ‘OK, you need to move onto something else.'”
Graham will have to think of something really romantic to top that, especially since Winfrey is celebrating a milestone birthday in the new year.
Winfrey admits that she has no plans for her 70th birthday celebration, and shares that she’s actually feeling the pressure of coming up with something in time. “For my 60th birthday, I came close to having a birthday party, and then the list became — I was so anxiety-ridden with the list, so I then decided I was not going to have a party,” she recalled.
“So now I’m trying to decide, should I have just a dance party? I also like the idea of a few friends joining me in the Redwoods because I love trees, but the problem is it’s January, so it will probably be cold. And then, I also really like the idea of just being home alone in my pajamas. So I am trying to decide,” she added.
A relaxing night at home might be exactly what the star needs after she wraps up promotion for her upcoming film, The Color Purple.
The Blitz Bazawule-directed reimagining of The Color Purple features a star-studded cast, including Fantasia Barrino as Celie, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Colman Domingo as Mister, Phylicia Mpasi as Young Celie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, H.E.R. as Squeak, Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol’ Mister, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, Tamela J. Mann as First Lady, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Ciara as Adult Nettie, Deon Cole as Alfonso and Stephen Hill as Buster.
Winfrey starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. The story — made iconic in the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker — follows Celie, a young Black woman living in the South from the early to mid-1900s, who finds strength in an extraordinary sisterhood and unbreakable bond.
Spielberg and Quincy Jones served as producers of the musical film adaptation alongside Winfrey, a full-circle moment for the trio since Spielberg directed the film adaptation in which Winfrey made her film debut and Jones produced.
“When I did my first film, which was The Color Purple, 1985, I had never done a film, been in a film, knew anything about filming but wanted to be in The Color Purple more than anything in my whole life,” Winfrey told Barrymore, going on to recall her first day on the set with Spielberg. “I have to say that The Color Purple experience for me back then, to now be producer of this film with Steven Spielberg… It’s so full circle.”
Speaking with ET at the star-studded premiere of The Color Purple at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles last week, Winfrey also reflected on being part of the film’s production after making her feature debut as Sofia almost 40 years ago. Many of the cast have previously mentioned that Winfrey frequently visited the set during filming, a tidbit that Winfrey herself admits when talking to ET.
“I was there all the time, and I was watching the daily, so I actually saw Shug Avery jump up on that table 88 times, OK? So I was so worried about her. I was so worried about, [like], ‘Girl, how are your knees?'” the former daytime talk show host quipped.
Winfrey added, “I believe that there’s something really divine about The Color Purple. I believe that there’s something special that, whenever Alice Walker wrote this in 1982 when it was first released, it put something into the world that was deeply meaningful, powerful, resilient, hopeful, and I think that that message of forgiveness and joy is always needed.”
“[Sofia] had the power back in the 1920s. Not many women had that or had the agency, as we now refer to, to be able to do that for themselves, but I loved playing that character,” Winfrey said, musing on the role that earned her an Academy Award nomination. “Playing that character changed me, and one of the great joys for me was to be on set watching Danielle Brooks take it on and make it her own. So, you know, when you get to be where I am, a woman of a certain age, one of the great, deep joys of your life is the satisfaction of being able to pass it on to someone else.”
The Color Purple will hit theaters on Christmas Day.