Oprah opens up on how she negotiated raises, why she left '60 Minutes' | News Coverage from USA

Oprah opens up on how she negotiated raises, why she left ’60 Minutes’

LOS ANGELES – Oprah Winfrey has long encouraged fans to find purpose and value. On Tuesday, she talked about finding it herself. 

Winfrey, who received the inaugural Empowerment in Entertainment Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s luncheon in Los Angeles, spoke from the podium to a crowd of industry execs and students.

In the late ’70s and ’80s, she said, “back when I was doing the news in Baltimore, I asked to make the same (salary) as my co-anchor who was doing the same job I was doing – except he called me ‘Babe’ the whole time.”

Both her news director and news manager denied her request for a raise.

“I realized at that moment that my employers didn’t get it; didn’t understand my value,” said Winfrey.

But power dynamics shifted when years later, in 1986, Winfrey’s Chicago talk show was about to get national syndication as The Oprah Winfrey Show. Winfrey got paid more, but her all-female team of producers did not.

Why? Winfrey’s male boss was surprised she’d even ask: “They’re only girls. What do they need more money for?” she recalled him saying.

In a room filled with teenagers about to embark on entertainment industry fellowships, Winfrey said, “It takes a while to develop a voice, but once you have it you damn sure are gonna use it.”

So use it Winfrey did. 

“I took a deep breath in that moment. I said, ‘Either they’re gonna get raises, or I’m gonna sit down. I’m not gonna work if they don’t get paid more. Babe,’” she announced from the stage. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Tuesday, Winfrey talked about a more recent example of standing her ground, explaining why when she departed “60 Minutes.”

“It was not the best format for me,” Winfrey told the magazine, adding that she kept getting feedback that she was “too emotional” when recording her name. “I think I did seven takes on just my name because it was ‘too emotional.’ I go, ‘Is the too much emotion in the Oprah part or the Winfrey part?’ I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality — which, for me, is actually not such a good thing.”

It reminded her of a time when she was a cub reporter encouraged to tone down her persona.

“I had a deja vu moment because I’ve actually lived through this once before when I covered a story as a young reporter (where) the family had lost their home, and my boss told me that I reported it with too much emotion … So I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality — which, for me, is actually not such a good thing,” Winfrey told the magazine. 

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Winfrey also revealed in the interview she had given advice to Gayle King when her best friend was mid-salary negotiations with CBS News. 

“I said, ‘Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now’s the time. And if you don’t get what you want, then make the next right move.'”

Winfrey had similar go-get-em advice for gala attendees in L.A. on Tuesday: “Let’s leave here today with the collective memory of wanting to create enlightenment in the world,” she said. “Let’s offer the possibility for something better for all of us, because a new day is no longer on the horizon; a new day is now.” 






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