Why Oprah threatened to quit for the women who worked on her show

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Amy Swales
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The Oprah Winfrey Show was one of the most successful programmes in TV history, running for 25 years and consistently pulling in ratings and acclaim – including so many Emmys that its host, Oprah Winfrey, chose to stop submitting herself for consideration.

And Winfrey, meanwhile, earned hundreds of millions of dollars every year it aired.

However, in a new video interview for Time magazine, she reveals that as her show began having early success, with its team of “young women in our 30s, trying to figure it out”, she became concerned that her female staff weren’t getting a cut of the profits – and threatened to walk away from the programme that made her world-famous.

“I was making a lot of money, and my producers were still getting the same salary. I went to my boss at the time and I said, ‘Everybody needs a raise.’ And he said, ‘Why?’”

Worryingly, she then reports that her boss was openly sexist: “He actually said to me, ‘They’re only girls. They’re a bunch of girls. What do they need more money for?’

“I go, ‘Well, either they’re gonna get raises, or I’m gonna sit down. I will not work unless they get paid.’ And so they did.”

Winfrey made the comments in an interview as part of Time Firsts, a multimedia project featuring groundbreaking women.

In the clip, she also discusses how difficult it was as a black woman not having representation in the media, saying “there were no black people on a billboard, on television or in the media. You’re looking to find yourself.”

She has since become one of the world’s most influential women, estimated to have delivered an extra million votes to Barack Obama by endorsing his presidential campaign.

Image: Rex Features


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.