Oprah: Let's start by admitting how weird it is to do an interview when we've known each other for 30 years.
Maria: I'm very proud of having such a long-term friendship. You were the first friend I made outside of my family. I was raised in this clan mentality; the only people who could understand what I was experiencing were my siblings and cousins. I went to an all-girls school, and I hung out with classmates there, but before I met you, I had never gone out and made a friend who wasn't steeped in my family's history. You weren't an Irish Catholic from Washington. You were a friend I made on my own, at a job I got on my own, in a city I'd never lived in before.
Oprah: At the time, I didn't know any of that. I was a little afraid of you when you first came to WJZ-TV.
Maria: Why afraid?
Oprah: You were such the talk! I don't know what gave me the courage to engage with a Kennedy, but you turned out to be so friendly.
Maria: Well, I was always conscious that people would think I got the job because I was a Kennedy and that I wouldn't be one of the team. I had to prove myself at every juncture. I worked hard.
Oprah: Do you think you overdid it?
Maria: Looking back, yes. I was so into my work for 25 years. I put on blinders to everything else; if I hadn't, there would always have been something more exciting happening in my family that could pull me away. So once I decided to go into journalism, I just worked all the time. I thought I had to show people that I would get in early, stay late or even all night, work on holidays. I didn't want to be the rich kid who was along for a free ride. And I thought you were such a big deal because you had an apartment.
Oprah: You had an apartment, too....
Maria: But mine was on the bottom floor of the little complex we both lived in, and it had no furniture!
Oprah: Oh, that's right. The bottom-floor apartment rented for less. As a single woman, I was always very cautious about the first floor; no matter what it cost, I'd get an apartment on the third floor or above.
Maria: You had a nice apartment and furniture, and you spoke in churches all the time. You'd say, "I'm going to preach on Sunday," and I was like, "What's up with that?" I didn't know anybody my age who preached, or even had something to say.
Oprah: Oh, gosh, I was like a preacher woman. I would be invited to speak at churches all around.
Maria: I know! I'm Catholic—I was used to priests doing the talking. I thought, "Who does she think she is that she can just get up and preach?" I mean, you lived upstairs and you ate with me in a supermarket....
Oprah: The supermarket in Cross Keys. They had a little dining section.
Maria: It was pathetic. And you would say, "I don't know what I'm going to do," and I'd think, "But you're already on TV doing the news and the weather, and you're preaching on Sunday!" To me, all that was big, but you didn't see yourself that way.
We Hear You!