The O Interview: Gayle and Oprah, Uncensored
Gayle: I don't want to offend her, but I'm never afraid to be truthful with her.
Lisa: So I'm hearing about differences. What are the similarities?
Gayle: We became friends that first night because for the first time, I met somebody who I felt was like me. I'd never met anybody like that. Certainly not another black girl. I grew up in an all-white community. I remember getting embarrassed in fourth grade when a boy in my class named Wayne said, "If it weren't for Abraham Lincoln, you'd be my slave." I can remember that very clearly. Oprah and I had the same sensibilities. We liked the same kind of music. We thought smart—
Oprah: Smart and articulate—
Gayle: Was not a bad thing.
Oprah: We were the only black girls in our schools, and I was the only black girl in my class who loved Neil Diamond. So when you're around black folks, and they say, "Who's your favorite singer—"
Gayle: I liked Barry Manilow.
Lisa: Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow? You guys were made for each other.
Oprah: [Laughter] It's that whole being-the-odd-girl-out thing—we didn't fit in to everybody else's perception of what it's like to be a black girl.
Gayle: But we still had a very strong sense of being black and were very proud of being black. So to meet another black girl like that was, wow! And we were the same age, we were both single, and we just immediately bonded.
Oprah: But she was clearly upper middle class, and I was clearly from a very poor background. Gayle had a pool growing up!
Gayle: I had a swimming pool, a maid. We grew up very, very well.
Oprah: She had a maid. My mother was a maid. You know what I'm saying? I'd never met a black person with a maid. It was like, "Lord, really? At your house?"
Gayle: So that's how we became friends that first night, and we've been friends ever since.
Oprah: See, we were always together in the newsroom. I remember when they decided to fire me—
Gayle: Not fire, demote.
Oprah: They wanted to fire me, but they couldn't because of the contract. My $22,000 contract. [Laughter]
Gayle: They had run a big campaign: "What is an Oprah?"
Oprah: I'd been on the air, starting in September. By April they decided it wasn't working, because the anchorman—
Gayle: Didn't like you.
Oprah: But I didn't know it. I was so naive. The day they decided that they were going to take me off the 6 o'clock news, I said to Gayle—
Gayle: I'm just typing away at my desk. She goes, "Get in the bathroom now!"