I spend so much of my life saying “Even Sallie Krawcheck!” or “Even Amy Errett!” or “Even Jenn Hyman!” to exhort to the world and myself that founders who are way more successful than me also deal with the same BS—the mansplaining, the tax on raising capital while female, the questions over whether “women” are a big market.
It makes me angry but also soothes me to know it is not just me.
Well, here’s the ultimate version of that. In a wide raging and rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah—OPRAH!—discussed among other things how she recently left 60 Minutes because she couldn’t quite deal with having to say her name over and over again because she “sounded too emotional.”
From the piece: “How should I say this? Never a good thing when I have to practice saying my name and have to be told that I have too much emotion in my name.
…it’s not that it didn’t sit very well. I did it. I think I did seven takes on just my name because it was ‘too emotional.’ I go, ‘Is the too much emotion in the ‘Oprah’ part or the ‘Winfrey’ part?’ I had a deja vu moment because I’ve actually lived through this once before when I covered a story as a young reporter [where] the family had lost their home and my boss told me that I reported it with too much emotion. I had too much emotion in the story. I thought, ‘OK, so you’re not supposed to be involved in the story, I get that. You’re a journalist.’ But the same thing is true even with a read [at 60 Minutes]. They would say, ‘All right, you need to flatten out your voice, there’s too much emotion in your voice.’ So I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality—which, for me, is actually not such a good thing.”
Yeah, I’d say “personality” is an asset for Oprah. Yunno, a woman who has become a self-made billionaire, adored the world over by leveraging her voice and her personality.
I tell young women this all the time: You are always gonna be too much of something for somebody. Accept it, because if you try to whittle yourself down to please everybody you are gonna wind up with nothing.
But, still…EVEN OPRAH. I’d respect the patriarchy more if it at least came up with original adjectives to try to pin women into a box.
You should go read the whole thing, because it’s amazing and very honest. Not just honest in the BS she deals with, but in how confident she is in resisting it. Oprah knows her worth and her value which is a beautiful thing to see in a world that tells women to pretend they don’t (You’ll see Oprah also gets internet hate…and feels guilt about things…and was terrified they were gonna cut her iconic Golden Globes speech because they’d told her in rehearsal it was too long…)
One of my other favorite lines was what she texted her BFF Gayle King after that famous R. Kelly interview, which came amid a high-profile salary negotiation with CBS: “Jesus loooooves you.”
Says Oprah: “One of my girls who is studying to be a journalist sent me a text saying, ‘Oh, Auntie Gayle, broadcasting goals.’ And I said, ‘Not broadcasting goals, life goals. Your life goal [should be] to be able to be centered in the middle of whatever storm is showing up in your life.’”
Amen to that.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom: