Why Oprah Decided to Start Her OWN Network
OW: It feels like the most creative I've ever been. It feels like the most open I've ever been. The network truly feels like a paint box—like a great big palette. When I was a kid, my favorite gift was the 64 box of Crayola crayons. Even now I get excited by things like that. I was in the Lanvin store in London recently and they had a palette of like 120 different colors of pencils. And I looked at it and thought, Okay, I'm gonna get home and there's gonna be all these pencils. What am I gonna do with them? Now, I don't know how to sketch anything, but I was excited by the idea of having all of these different colors; you could just pick up any pencil at any time and sketch. That's what this network now feels like. It feels like you can do anything you can imagine—you can create. Anything you can imagine, you can create. You can give a show to anybody, to any idea, to any concept.
SC: That's what the magazine feels like. When you imagine the network in its full manifestation, how does it feel to you?
OW: [Pauses] Rich and full and nuanced. When I was growing up, Seventeen magazine was like my bible. It was 50 cents a copy. I was at the drugstore every month—I knew the date that they were dropped because I never had enough money for a subscription, but I saved my 50 cents and I was there. Whatever Seventeen magazine said, I did. So I want this channel to sort of be what Seventeen magazine was for me: a space where I could be comforted, a space where I could get some guidance, a space where I could be entertained, a space that was fun for me, where I was allowed to feel most like myself. To me, it's a channel where people will see themselves, and their ideals and their values and their hopes, see their struggles, see who they are through the lives of others—in a real way, that enriches them.
SC: It's incredibly exciting—and yet I wonder if on some level you're going to miss The Oprah Winfrey Show.
OW: I have no regrets about giving it up. I think this is the perfect time. A few years ago, I was interviewing Jerry Seinfeld for the magazine and I was feeling so tired—beyond exhausted—you know, where you're just weary. I was interviewing him during my summer vacation and saying I had to go back to Chicago in a few days. And he said, "I hate it when people whine about their vacations, because your time is yours to design." I never forgot that. It's yours to design. So now I get the paint box. I can do five shows a week, I can do ten shows a week; I could take six weeks off and then tape for six weeks, you know? I get to design how I really want to live my life. Up until now, the work has been my life and has defined everything I've done. Can't do that, because you got the show. Can't do this, because you got the show. You gotta get back, you got the show. But now the show no longer comes first. Yes! I'm putting myself first. Isn't that big?
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