Oprah Talks to Barbara Walters
Oprah: As we were walking past your wall of fame, my eyes started to water because there's such history and depth and meaning there. Do you still get impressed with yourself?
Barbara: I forget what I've done until I start working on a retrospective. Then I'm amazed. I was never supposed to be in front of the cameras. I wasn't beautiful. I didn't speak perfectly. At the time, the very few women on TV were weathergirls. Isn't it funny that we now have all these weathermen?
Barbara: I consider myself blessed. But I also know I'm normal. I don't walk around saying, "Look what I've done."
Oprah: But what do you feel when you walk down that hallway?
Barbara: I wish I'd kept a diary. In the beginning, I was so sure I was a failure that I didn't. Then I got too busy, too tired at night.
Oprah: You thought you were a failure?
Barbara: At ABC I was a failure.
Oprah: But did you still feel that way once you'd landed the Sadat and Begin interview?
Barbara: I'm still auditioning.
Oprah: But you don't have to anymore, Barbara.
Barbara: Well, up until a couple of years ago, I was auditioning.
Oprah: I understand. Up until a couple of years ago, I thought, "If I don't have this job, I don't know if I'll ever work again in TV."
Barbara: Having had a life with great economic uncertainty—my father lost everything and I had to support the family—financial security meant a great deal to me.
Oprah: Once you have that security, you can do what you do for the pure joy of the craft. You can't live from airplane to airplane if it's only about the money.
Barbara: None of us does it just for money. I used to say I would do my job for nothing, and I was afraid that ABC would say, "Okay!" Giving up 20/20 will make a financial difference.
Oprah: Aren't you set for life?
Barbara: Yes. That's why I'm able to walk away. It's actually not that I'm still auditioning. I just know people who are far more confident than I am. Maybe you have to be the way I am to have the kind of drive I've had. Make sense?
Oprah: Yes. When you interviewed Martha Stewart, she said work was her whole life. How has work fit into the scheme of things for you?
Barbara: What sustained me during bad press, or when I didn't get an interview, were my close friends. When Martha Stewart said, "My work is my life," I understood that. She also has a child she is close to. But my life is my life. Part of my life is my work. Another part is Jackie. Then there's my social life. I love to be with my friends. I find great joy in that.
Oprah: You're always out.
Barbara: Too much.
Oprah: Three nights a week?
Barbara: Yep. I've often joked that after I leave 20/20, I won't be sitting next to the prime minister. But I have to tell you, sometimes sitting next to the prime minister is extremely boring. It's more fun at the other table.