Oprah: Didn't you get excited the first time you walked onto the Oval Office set?
Geena: Definitely. I kept thinking, "This will happen to a woman one day." I hope it's soon.
Oprah: The polls say 79 percent of Americans are open to the idea of a female president. I don't think that's true—that's just what people think they should say. But I do believe your role will affect the perception of what a woman in this position could be. What do you think?
Geena: We know how powerful media images are. The show is entertainment—but seeing a woman in this role week after week makes people comfortable with the idea. That's when television is of its greatest service.
Oprah: In getting people to think differently.
Geena: This show gives us a picture of a real woman with a somewhat rounded life. Some people have asked, "Why do you have to include a family?" Well, every president during my lifetime has had children.
Oprah: And the First Lady is usually raising the family—which is what we see your character doing.
Geena: Right. It's an incredible luxury for an incredibly tiny percentage of the population to even be able to ask, "Should the woman work or stay home?" The majority of families need both incomes. So most women have to figure out how to do both: work and raise kids.
Oprah: What does it mean to you to have this hit show, having come from two [Sara and The Geena Davis Show] that failed?
Geena: The fact that they failed doesn't really register for me. I put something out there, and whatever happens, happens.
Oprah: But if you do one and it doesn't work and then you do another and it doesn't work, do you have anxiety...
Geena: I don't. I just dive in. I can't know what's going to succeed. There's no point in being cautious, because then you don't get a chance to do stuff you really want to do. I want to do parts that I feel strongly about and that I think I can do a good job with. All I can do is take responsibility for doing my best and making sensible choices. But I learned early on never to get invested in what will happen.
Oprah: Even after you won the Oscar for The Accidental Tourist?
Geena: Yes. The first time I got nominated, I won. That was the way to do it! I was like, "Wow, the Oscars are great. I love it." But I didn't feel any pressure after winning. I just thought, "Got that out of the way."
Oprah: Did you think someone else's name would be called that night?